9 Apr 2013

Australia, China agree to annual talks

8:39 am on 9 April 2013

Australia and China will hold regular high-level talks after Prime Minister Julia Gillard signs a strategic partnership deal with Premier Li Keqiang on Tuesday.

The agreement for annual summit talks will be signed in a formal ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

In Shanghai on Monday, Ms Gillard announced an agreement to allow direct trading of the Australian and Chinese currencies for the first time.

The Australian dollar will join the Japanese yen and the US dollar to become the third currency to enjoy the benefits of direct yuan trading, which should make it easier for businesses to transact with each other and offer better rates to tourists.

"This reflects the rapid growth of our bilateral trade and the value of two-way investment," Ms Gillard said.

She pointed to Australia's experience in taking difficult but necessary steps to modernise its economy by floating the Australia dollar, cutting tariffs and opening its financial sector to foreign competition.

"We are a capital-hungry economy," Ms Gillard told the China Executive Leadership Academy.

"Australia is open for investment."

AAP reports 380 investment proposals from Chinese companies have been accepted during Labor's term in office.

Ms Gillard is also expected to hold talks with business leaders and education-sector representatives in Beijing on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, ANZ and Westpac will be the first Australian banks to directly trade the currencies on the Chinese foreign exchange market after receiving licences from the People's Bank of China.