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Australia’s Abbott Seeks to Balance Japan, South Korea and China on Asian Trip

Roxane Horton Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott pulled off an impressive feat in Asia last week as he embarked on a tour of Japan, South Korea and China, forging free trade agreements and announcing closer security relations on each stop along the way.

The conservative Abbott government came to power in 2013 declaring that Australia was “open for business” and promising to fast-track stalled free trade agreements with East Asia’s three economic powerhouses. Accompanied by an unprecedented delegation of more than 600 high-level Australian businesspeople and the premiers of six Australian states as well as the chief minister of the Northern Territories, Abbott last week signed the Korean Australia Free Trade Agreement (KAFTA), announced the Japan-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement (JAEPA) and reiterated in China that he and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang were determined to sign a China-Australia Free Trade Agreement before the end of 2014.* These countries represent the major firepower of Australian trade: China is Australia’s No. 1 trading partner, Japan second and South Korea fourth. ...

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