Sydney: Australia and China sealed a landmark free trade deal today after nearly a decade of talks, unlocking what they said would be substantial new benefits for years to come.
Under the pact, 93 per cent of all Australian goods entering China will be tariff free within four years in a deal Prime Minister Tony Abbott said "will add billions to the economy, create jobs and drive higher living standards".
"Australian businesses will have unprecedented access to the world's second largest economy," he added.
"It greatly enhances our competitive position in key areas such as agriculture, resources and energy, manufacturing exports, services and investment."
The talks began in 2005 but stalled last year over agriculture and China's insistence on removing investment limits for state-owned enterprises before last-gasp negotiations ensured they were complete for Chinese President Xi Jinping's current state visit.
Significantly, tariffs will be abolished for Australia's USD 13 billion dairy industry. Beef and sheep farmers will also gain from the abolition of tariffs ranging from 12-25 per cent and all tariffs on Australian horticulture will be eliminated.
A series of levys will also be removed on a range of Australian resources and energy products in a deal that could help counter a painful downturn in the mining sector.
China is Australia's biggest trading partner, with the two-way flow exceeding USD 131 billion.