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"We wanted to change China"

Last Updated:2014-11-11

"We wanted to change China through FTA": Dr. Geoff Raby's commentary on the process of negotiation related to the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement in an interview with the Mandarin.

Geoff Raby, an economist and career diplomat, was Australia’s representative in the lucrative Middle Kingdom between 2007 and 2011. While talks with China started officially in 2005 under the Howard government, pre-negotiation negotiations began two years before that. Indeed, he told The Mandarin the whole thing was his idea.

“In fact, we really wanted to change China through the FTA negotiation by driving the process of deeper reform in order to improve our market access.”

But after realising other countries were beating out Australia and profiting handsomely, thinking within the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade began to change.

Although Raby helped get talks up and running initially, work had stalled by the time he was in charge of the Beijing embassy. “As ambassador, by the time I took up the job in 2007, the negotiations weren’t really going anywhere.” he recalled.

“Formal negotiations began in 2005, but it took us over two years of negotiating with the Chinese just so we could get to that point where we could start. There was a very difficult negotiation leading into that, particularly because China had a very strong demand that they wanted us to accord them market economy status,” Raby said.

Read the full interview in the Mandarin: