A Ministry of Commerce spokesman said on Tuesday that China is willing to complete negotiations with Australia on establishment of the China-Australia Free Trade Area soon. Shen Danyang made the remarks while responding to questions from journalists at the ministry's monthly press conference, and in the wake of Australia's minister for industry making positive comments on the subject earlier this month. Minister Ian Macfarlane said while visiting north China's city of Tianjin that Australia expects to sign the free trade pact with China in the first half of 2014. He expressed hope that a comprehensive deal would be on the table by the time Prime Minister Tony Abbott visits China next year. China is also keen to see the signing of the free trade agreement as soon as possible on the principles of mutual benefits and balanced interests, said Shen. Despite differences in investment, agriculture and services, both sides have been searching hard for solutions to push forward the negotiations, according to the spokesman. There have so far been 19 rounds of talks on the free trade area since they were initiated in Sydney in May 2005, with an aim to facilitate trade and investment between the two countries.