31/08/2015 - 12:15

CCI backs China FTA

31/08/2015 - 12:15

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The Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA says it will join the campaign to promote the proposed Chinese Free Trade Agreement, because it will provide significant benefits for locally based companies.

CCI chief executive Deidre Willmott.

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA says it will join the campaign to promote the proposed Chinese Free Trade Agreement, because it will provide significant benefits for locally based companies.

The agreement has become the target of strident union opposition on the grounds that it contains loopholes that could lead to cheaper temporary Chinese workers taking jobs from Australians.

CCIWA chief executive Deidre Willmott strongly backed the China deal at a Perth Rotary Club lunch, committing the chamber to support the national campaign defending its provisions. She also flagged initiatives at the state level.

Ms Willmott said China accounted for 51 per cent of exports from Western Australia, worth $64 billion annually. In addition to the dominant resources sector, there were growing opportunities for other WA exports. Wine sales were up and sorghum from the Ord River would be in demand, she said.

"We need to do everything we can to encourage these success stories and inspire more of them," Ms Willmott said. "Firms that do well in China have a higher tendency to stay in Australia and expand their Australian workforce. That is why the union campaign to discredit the China FTA is so damaging."

Ms Willmott challenged the union claim that the FTA deal would trade away good jobs to temporary overseas labour.

"The fact is, provisions in the China agreement about foreign workers are not new or unique but merely follow a number of other agreements," she said. "The question for the unions is: why the sudden opposition to a free trade agreement with China when there was no campaign against other FTAs?

"If the unions' scare campaign derails the China FTA it will cost jobs, not protect them.

"If the China FTA is ratified, WA businesses will be more price-competitive through tariff reductions, and that will lead to improved sales opportunities, economic growth and job creation."  

Labor Party frontbenchers have also expressed concern about some of the FTA's provisions and called for more talks. But Labor has declined to say it will reject the measures when they are presented to parliament for endorsement later this year.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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