Trade analysts have welcomed China’s agreement to begin formal talks with Australia on an FTA, reportsThe Australian , and Australian businesses will find it easier to invest in China’s powerhouse economy. In The Age , Michelle Grattan says John Howard’s trip to Beijing has “achieved all Howard could have wanted.” The Fin’sColleen Ryan says the FTA with China is an economic boon in theory, but a negotiating nightmare in reality. And in The AustralianStuart Harris , professor of international relations at the Australian National University, says this is perhaps the most important visit that the Prime Minister has made to the region – but it could also be the most difficult, with the China trade deal the easy part.

Meanwhle, The Australianleads its business section with the news that Industry Funds Management launched an “unprecedented” $725 million takeover bid for renewable energy company Pacific Hydro yesterday. Oz columnist Bryan Frith says if IMF succeeds it wouldn’t necessarily be a step forward as IFM has no operational expertise or skills to Pacific Hydro, so it must be hoping the existing management will remain if it takes control.

The Agereports that Rupert Murdoch has initiated “very friendly” talks with fellow media moguls John Malone about taking back his rival’s 18 per cent voting stake in News Corporation.

The Finalso has a story on trade minister Mark Vaile playing golf with the Indonesian counterpart Mari Pangestu at one of Bali’s finest golf courses on Sunday. Vaile beat Pangestu by a wide margin, but she said she is determined to improve her game before their next encounter.

And in The Bulletin(subscription required), Jennifer Byrne lunches with the semi-retired Australian business guru Gary Pemberton, who reveals that when he was offered the CEO’s job at Brambles, he told his chairman this would be the deal: “I’ll run the company, you go to the cocktail parties. And I never did. I never went to the dinners, to cocktail parties, to lunches.”

Peter Fray

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