APEC clicks into gear

Until now there has been more light than heat, but with the announcement of a $45 billion deal to export Western Australian natural gas to China yesterday, the APEC conference in Sydney is now starting to pick up some momentum.

The largest single resources deal in Australia’s history, the $45 billion sale will see Perth-based Woodside Petroleum deliver two to three million tonnes of LNG per year to Chinese giant PetroChina for 15 to 20 years, The Australian Financial Review reports.

In addition to the deal, Foreign Minister Alexander Downer signed a memorandum with Chinese Commerce Minister Bo Xilai for annual roundtable talks between chief executives and senior bureaucrats in the two countries.

And ties could soon become closer with another Asian giant to our north, Indonesia, with reports that negotiations towards a free trade deal could start as early as next year.

Indonesian Trade Minister Mari Pangestu reportedly said yesterday that she was optimistic about the prospects for a possible free trade agreement with Australia. She said if a scoping study currently being undertaken recommended an FTA would be beneficial, it would likely take one to two years of negotiation before an agreement could be put in place.

And the foreign ministers of the APEC nations have agreed to pursue further talks on cutting down on red-tape and regulations that hinder trade.


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