Tony Abbott’s aim to sign a free trade agreement with China by September this year hit a stumbling block yesterday, with China’s commerce ministry spokesman failing to list it as a priority for the country this year.
Shen Danyang said at a press conference in Shanghai the Chinese government was focused on signing a three-way trade agreement with Japan and South Korea, The Australian Financial Review reports.
“This year we will give priority to free-trade negotiations with neighbouring countries,” Shen said.
The failure to mention Australia contradicts comments from last November when fast negotiations with Australia were flagged. Australia’s criticism of Beijing’s creation of an air defence zone over the East China Sea has cooled relations, the AFR reports.
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Wage Price Index up, but slowly
The Australian wage price index lifted 0.7% in the three months to December in seasonally adjusted terms, and rose 2.6% over the last year, new figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show.
“The growth in wages over the last year of 2.6%, seasonally adjusted, was the smallest through-the-year rise since the series commenced in 1997,” said ABS Wage Price Index director Robin Ashburn.
In the private sector, seasonally adjusted wages growth for the quarter was 0.6% and the public sector grew 0.9%.
The information, media and telecommunications industry quarterly rise was 1.2%, the largest of all industries.
Electricity, gas, water and waste services recorded the largest year-on-year wages growth of 3.3%. Professional, scientific and technical services recorded the smallest at 1.6%. Mining wages growth slowed to 3.1% compared to 5.1% a year ago.
Shares up on open
Aussie shares have opened higher this morning, despite analysts predicting a flat start.
The S&P/ASX200 benchmark rose 18 points to 5410.8 at 12:07pm AEDT. Overnight the Dow Jones closed 23.99 points lower at 16,130.40 after a mixed day of trading.