• Premier Li Keqiang with Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull

Premier Li Keqiang with Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull (Photo : Getty Images)

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has called on China to continue with significant reforms in the economy, as he highlighted Australia's strong ties with China and the achievement of the China-Australia free trade agreement (ChAFTA).

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In an article in The Australian Financial Review, Turnbull also pointed out China's contribution to Australia's economy as its largest trading partner and major investor. He stressed China's important role on global and regional issues that also concerns Australia.

The Australia leader made the remarks to welcome Chinese Premier Li Keqiang who is scheduled to visit Australia for the annual leaders meeting this week in Sydney, the report said.

Li had first visited Australia in 1996 and then in 2009, as vice premier.

The two leaders are expected to discuss important matters on bilateral, regional and global interests and find ways to advance the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership during the meeting.

According to Turnbull, both China and Australia underwent internal reforms in the past decades, which resulted in the improvement of lives of their peoples. The Chinese economy grew steadily in the past years.

Li's visit came at a time amid calls for protectionism and global uncertainty, Turnbull said.

Expressing his commitment to trade liberalization, Turnbull said he welcomed President Xi Jinping's strong defense of open markets during the Davos meeting. He said he will discuss with Premier Li how the two countries can push trade liberalization in the Asia-Pacific region, as well as work for a possible cooperation between ASEAN and its six FTA partners in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

Li stressed in his 2017 Annual Work Report that China's economic reform process is facing risks as the IMF warned of the rising state and corporate debt.

Turnbull also cited the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA), as an example of what can be achieved with free trade.

He said that through ChAFTA, more than 96 percent of Australia's goods exports enter China duty-free. This resulted in the increase of about 38 percent in Australian wine sales to China which amount to about $470 million, 82 percent growth in cosmetic sales and the growing lobster exports.

He said that countries in the Asia-Pacific region have benefited from the international order that is based on rules, which created a stable environment that enabled China and Australia to develop their economies.

Turnbull said he is looking forward to Premier Li's visit who, like him, considers innovation as the key driver of economic growth.