Australia and China agree immigration reforms as part of Free Trade Agreement

Australia and China signed a free-trade agreement on 17 November 2014, which include a number of changes to immigration between the two countries.

The measures were announced as part of the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA). This will result in more Chinese nationals coming to Australia, however some people in Australia are concerned about the impact this may have on the jobs market in Australia.

Some of the changes include:

  • To allow intra-corporate transfers for Chinese nationals for up to 4 years
  • Up to 1800 visas for Chinese service suppliers to enter Australia for up to 4 years, The visas will be for Traditional Chinese medicine practitioners, Chinese chefs, and Chinese Language coaches.
  • Chinese business visitors will be able to come to Australia for 90 days, or up to 6 months if they are service sellers
  • Spouses and children of visa holders will be eligible to apply for a visa, where the visa holder has been granted a stay of more than one year.
  • The Work and Holiday Arrangement will be extended to include Chinese nationals. The program currently allows up to 5000 visas per year.

There is already criticism from trade unions in Australia who are concerned about the numbers of Chinese migrant workers coming to Australia. In addition to immigration changes they are particularly concerned about new rules regarding infrastructure projects which allow Chinese companies to bring in their own executives and workforce. Trade unions fear that this may mean that Australians will lose out in favour of Chinese workers.

However, Prime Minister Tony Abbot has reassured the public, and points out that Australians will also benefit from this arrangement. He said: 'These agreements today are not just about trade, they're also about services, and there are tremendous opportunities for Australian law firms, accounting firms, educational providers and others to make more of this great market and, likewise, there are opportunities for Chinese people in Australia.'