Australia, China seek to boost economic ties

BEIJINGAustralian and Chinese officials held talks in Beijing on Saturday aimed at tightening trade and economic ties between the two countries, just as the Trump administration increases scrutiny on the trading practices of the world’s biggest exporter.

The two nations worked across “a whole range of issues, starting off first and foremost with our combined commitments to grow our economies but also resisting against protectionism,” Australian Treasurer Scott Morrison told reporters after the meeting. The officials also discussed investment, competition and income policies. China’s capital curbs are not badly affecting Chinese investment in Australia, Morrison said.

Australia is the most China-dependent economy in the developed world and two-way trade between the countries is worth more than A$155 billion (RM520.8 billion). A large chunk of that is Australian raw materials including iron ore and coal that helped build the plants at the centre of China’s industrialisation.

Yet, polls show Australians think too much Chinese property buying is allowed Down Under, where buoyant house prices have become a political issue. The government tightened scrutiny of farmland sales to Chinese buyers in 2015, with purchases of at least A$15 million needing to be screened for approval. When it comes to investment in China, Australia is behind, putting more cash into the tiny nation of Papua New Guinea than the world’s second-largest economy. — Bloomberg