On 17 June 2015, in the presence of the Australian Prime Minister the Hon Tony Abbott MP, Australian Trade and Investment Minister, Mr Andrew Robb AO MP, and the Chinese Commerce Minister, Mr Gao Hucheng, signed the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA) in Canberra.
The same day, Minister Robb, tabled the Agreement, accompanied by a National Interest Analysis, in the Australian Parliament.
These events followed the announcement of the conclusion of negotiations on 17 November 2014, during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s State visit to Australia.
The next steps, in accordance with normal Australian treaty-making processes, are:
- The Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT) will conduct an inquiry into the Agreement and will report back to Parliament, usually within 20 joint sitting days.
- After the JSCOT report is tabled:
Parliament will consider amendments to relevant legislation, and;
- relevant Regulations would also be amended in due course.
- Following signature, the Chinese Government will also undertake its own domestic treaty-making processes.
When Australia and China have completed their domestic processes, both countries will exchange diplomatic notes to certify that they are ready for the Agreement to enter into force ChAFTA will enter into force 30 days after this exchange, or on a date otherwise agreed.
Separately, the Senate References Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade, has established an inquiry into ChAFTA, to report within one month of JSCOT.
The agreement consists of 17 chapters and related annexes. Got some free time? Read them here.