Australian Prime Minister John Howard is brushing off criticism over a deal his government has reached with China that opens the door to a potential free trade agreement between the two nations.
Canberra granted Beijing market economy status on Monday as part of the agreement to begin free trade talks. But a spokesman for Australia's opposition Labor Party says Mr. Howard gave away Australia's strongest bargaining chip in the talks.
Mr. Howard says the Labor Party is simply complaining because it has no ideas of its own to promote.
The prime minister says a new deal will not be reached until sometime next year, adding that there was goodwill on both sides, but "not that good."
Some information for this report provided by AP.