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Aussies welcome China funds

AUSTRALIA welcomes Chinese investment and there is no discrimination towards any investor, even in the natural resources sector, said Australian Minister for Trade, Simon Crean, yesterday in Shanghai.

"We just need to undergo procedures to review investment, and each one should be considered case by case," said Crean, who attended a ceremony to launch an Australian energy efficiency project at a local hospital. "We welcome Chinese investment in Australia." He also said investments should flow in both directions.

The Australian government was currently considering a bid by Chinese metals group Aluminum Corp of China, also known as Chinalco, to buy 18 percent of mining firm Rio Tinto.

Some media reports in Australia said the country was concerned about investment in its natural resources sector and there existed "xenophobic actions," refering to resentment towards involvement of foreign investors.

Crean also disclosed that discussions were held last month in Beijing on a Free Trade Agreement between the two countries.

"A strong political will is needed to re-engage the process," Crean told Shanghai Daily.

An FTA, a treaty that liberalizes and facilitates trade, aims to improve a sound business environment and promote cooperation between two countries.

China and New Zealand signed an FTA in April last year after 15 rounds of negotiations over three years and it made New Zealand the first advanced economy to ink an FTA with China.

Australia and China launched bilateral FTA talks in April 2005 and last year, where Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd agreed to accelerate the talks to conclude a comprehensive, high quality and mutually beneficial agreement.

The General Administration of Customs said bilateral trade reached US$59.66 billion last year, a 36.1-percent increase from a year earlier.


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