Chinese President Xi Jinping and former Australian prime minister Tony Abbott in 2014 (Image: Rick Rycroft/AP)

Australia's trade agreement with China -- it's not a free trade agreement (FTA), despite Coalition claims to the contrary -- was borne of Tony Abbott's desperation to appear to have an economic policy.

Having been elected on the basis of all the things he'd stop -- boats, climate action, deficits -- he turned to "free trade agreements" with a number of regional countries as a facade of a positive economic policy.

Such bilateral trade agreements produce little economic benefit, as the Productivity Commission (PC) has long pointed out -- and certainly nothing like the absurd claims made for them by politicians.