World

China and Australia sign agreement ending almost a decade of free-trade negotiations

  • Chinese President Xi Jinping, left, and Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott walk together as they leave the House of Representatives at Parliament House in Canberra, Monday, Nov. 17, 2014. President Xi, who attended the G20 leadership summit in Brisbane,  made an address to the Australian Parliament. (AP Photo/Lukas Coch, Pool)

    Chinese President Xi Jinping, left, and Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott walk together as they leave the House of Representatives at Parliament House in Canberra, Monday, Nov. 17, 2014. President Xi, who attended the G20 leadership summit in Brisbane, made an address to the Australian Parliament. (AP Photo/Lukas Coch, Pool)  (The Associated Press)

  • Chinese President Xi Jinping, left, and Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott walk together as they leave the House of Representatives at Parliament House in Canberra, Monday, Nov. 17, 2014. President Xi, who attended the G20 leadership summit in Brisbane,  made an address to the Australian Parliament. (AP Photo/Lukas Coch, Pool)

    Chinese President Xi Jinping, left, and Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott walk together as they leave the House of Representatives at Parliament House in Canberra, Monday, Nov. 17, 2014. President Xi, who attended the G20 leadership summit in Brisbane, made an address to the Australian Parliament. (AP Photo/Lukas Coch, Pool)  (The Associated Press)

  • China’s President Xi Jinping, left, and Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott speak at a press conference following the signing of several memorandums of understanding to strengthen trade in Canberra, Monday, Nov. 17, 2014. Two-way flow of goods and services between the countries was valued at more than $130 billion last year. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

    China‚Äôs President Xi Jinping, left, and Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott speak at a press conference following the signing of several memorandums of understanding to strengthen trade in Canberra, Monday, Nov. 17, 2014. Two-way flow of goods and services between the countries was valued at more than $130 billion last year. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)  (The Associated Press)

China and Australia have signed a preliminary deal after almost a decade of free-trade negotiations that will give Australia's service industry unsurpassed access to the Chinese market and Australian agriculture advantages over competitors from the United States, Canada and the European Union.

Chinese President Xi Jinping witnessed the signing Monday by Australian and Chinese trade ministers of a declaration of intent which officially concluded negotiations that began in 2005.

Xi earlier told Australia's Parliament that China was committed to peaceful development and resolution of territorial disputes.

Trade Minister Andrew Robb says the pact would be signed next year and take effect as early as March if it is endorsed by the Australian Parliament.