No Limits for Architects as China FTA Inked

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Friday, June 19th, 2015
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No limits will be applied to the volume of business opportunities which Australian firms in architecture, construction or engineering will be able to pursue in China following the signing of the signing of the trade deal between both countries.

As the signing by Trade Minister Andrew Robb and his counterpart Chinese Commerce Minister Gao Hunching took place on June 17, the release of the full text of the agreement revealed that firms operating within the built environment will have essentially unrestricted access to markets in China.

Under the provisions of the deal relating to scientific, professional and technical services – which covers services relating to the environment, construction and engineering, tourism and travel, securities and education – no form of quota, regulatory imposed monopoly or exclusive service arrangement will be imposed and firms will be free to operate in each other’s markets without any limitation on the value or quantity of services provided.

Australian firms will not need to partner with Chinese companies and there will be no limit on the amount of capital our firms can invest within China.

In a move which will provide for greater opportunity for individual Australian architects and engineers to pursue employment opportunities in China, meanwhile, both countries have also agreed to encourage relevant bodies to recognise professional qualifications granted in each territory and to explore possibilities for mutual recognition and vocational qualifications.

Whilst the involvement of Australian architecture firms in overseas markets is limited, the past ten years has seen a number of firms look for opportunities in other countries in order to expand beyond the relatively limited scope of domestic work.

Woods Bagot, for example, has opened offices in San Francisco, New York, Shanghai, Singapore and Abu Dhabi.

It is also expected that local firms will win increasing volumes of design contracts on overseas projects of Australian construction and development giants such as Leighton, Grocon, and Lend Lease.

All up, the value of China’s construction market is expected to amount to around RMB 19.456 trillion ($A$4.054 trillion) in 2015, according to Europe’s EU SME Centre.

In other sectors of the economy, the deal will remove tariffs on almost all Australian resource and energy projects, dairy products (progressively) and a range of manufactured goods.

In a joint statement, Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Trade Minister Andrew Robb said the deal followed the signing of agreements with Japan and Korea, and gave local producers better market access to the world’s second largest economy.

“Today’s signing by Minister for Trade and Investment Andrew Robb and his counterpart, Chinese Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng, is yet further proof that Australia is open for business, and is a testament to the strength of the Australia-China relationship,” the statement read.

The agreement will come into force after being ratified by both parties.

In 2013/14, total trade with China was worth almost $160 billion.

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