10 Nov 2013

Australia behind NZ in Asian free trade deals

5:37 am on 10 November 2013

Australian foreign minister Julie Bishop says New Zealand has made more progress with free trade agreements in Asia than Australia.

AAP reports she has bemoaned Australia's lack of free trade agreements with China, Japan and South Korea.

Addressing the annual conference of the West Australian Liberal branch on Saturday, Ms Bishop pointed out that New Zealand stitched up a deal with China only three years after starting the process in 2005.

The John Howard administration had begun Australia's talks with China, but an agreement was never sealed under two terms of Labor, she said.

Ms Bishop also said the federal government would pursue a free trade agreement with Japan in the next 12 months.

And such a deal had not yet been been agreed to with South Korea, which meant Australia was losing market share - particularly in agriculture - to the United States.