Australia’s relationship with China can progress to a new level if China agrees to sign a free trade agreement during the federal governmen's trade mission next week, Australian School of Buisness economist Tim Harcourt says.

“Australia’s relationship with China is not just rocks and crops. Education, professional services, architecture are all needed to fuel China’s urbanisation,” says Mr Harcourt. “The best diplomacy is economic diplomacy and signing up to a free trade agreement now will further strengthen Australia’s relationship with China.”

 Prime Minister Tony Abbott is leading a week-long trade mission including Premiers and business leaders to Japan, South Korea and China starting this weekend.

“China is warming to a free trade agreement. With Korea already on board and a deal with Japan close to being finalised, it is an opportune time for China to take action,” says Mr Harcourt, who is the J.W. Nevile Fellow in Economics. 

Also available for comment on the visit to China is Laurie Pearcey, Director of China Strategy & Development and Director of UNSW's Confucius Institute.  

Mr Harcourt and Mr Pearcey are currently in China promoting UNSW courses and programs in Nanjing, Wuxi, Shanghai and Xi-an.

Media contacts: Tim Harcourt +61 408 485 479;  Laurie Pearcey  +61 404 885 088

Janine MacDonald, ASB Public Affairs +61 478 492 110