It has been seven years since Australia and China first conducted their bilateral talks towards a possible free trade agreement (FTA). This year, Australia wants that FTA officially and formally signed.
"It's (been) too long, and both sides have recognized that," Kevin Rudd, a member of Australia's parliament, told China Daily on Thursday at the sidelines of the 2012 APEC China CEO Forum.
"(What) I would like to do is see the deal signed this year, the 40th anniversary of the China-Australia diplomatic relationship," the former Australian prime minister said. "It would be a good way to have a birthday party."
One of the factors delaying the FTA is China's misconception of Australian agriculture products flooding the market and potentially damaging China's interests.
"China thinks we are a big agriculture country and the opening of the market would harm Chinese interests, but frankly, I don't believe the argument is accurate," Mr Rudd said.
Not totally disregarding the possible outcome, the influx of Australian agriculture exports into China would nonetheless have a "very, very limited" effect since by Chinese domestic standards, "our agriculture exports are quite small."
"China is the second-largest economy in the world, and the largest in Asia. Australia is the fourth-largest in Asia. We should be able to overcome the relatively minor differences," the Chinese newspaper quoted Mr Rudd as saying.
A bilateral FTA with China according to estimates said Australia could gain additional incomes of A$146 billion ($145.5 billion) in the next twenty years.
"I believe we can take a $100-billion plus relationship and turn it into something bigger again. It's good for China, and good for us, and more jobs for either side," Mr Rudd said.
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