China, Australia Sign Landmark Free Trade Agreement
China and Australia have signed a landmark free trade agreement that follows about a decade of negotiations.
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Chinese Trade Minister Gao Hucheng attended the signing ceremony Wednesday in Canberra.
"It will change our countries for the better , it will change our region for the better, it will change our world for the better," said Mr. Abbott.
Trade Minister Gao praised the free trade deal, which was struck late last year, as "comprehensive, high-quality and balanced."
"It has the highest degree of liberalization amongst all the FTA's China has so far signed with another economy," he said.
Under the pact, tariffs eventually will be lifted on 95 percent of Australian exports, according to the official Xinhua news agency.
The wide-ranging agreement will also lower restrictions on Chinese investment in Australia and make it easier for Australian banks, insurance companies and universities to do business in China.
China is Australia's biggest trading partner. Two-way trade between the two nations amounts to over $123 billion annually.
North Korea Drought 'Worst in a Century'
North Korea is suffering through its most severe drought in a century, according to a state media outlet, worsening an already serious food shortage in the impoverished country.
"The worst drought in 100 years continues in the DPRK, causing great damage," said the Korean Central News Agency on Tuesday.
KCNA said paddies have dried up in several key rice-growing provinces, including Hwanghae and Pyongan, because of almost a total lack of rainfall.
North Korea experienced a devastating famine in the early 1990s, leaving hundreds of thousands dead.
It has since has suffered regular chronic food shortages, with the situation exacerbated by floods, droughts and mismanagement.
The United Nations says 70 percent of the population, or 18 million North Koreans, are food insecure and lack nutritional diversity. Malnutrition rates are high, with 27.9 percent of children under five suffering from chronic malnutrition.