Question time - economic diplomacy

  • Transcript, E&OE

HUTCHINSON TO THE MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS My question is to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. How will this Government's policy of economic diplomacy boost Australia's prosperity and create jobs for this generation and those to come?

Ms JULIE BISHOP (Curtin–Minister for Foreign Affairs) (14:30): I thank the member for Lyons for his question, and I acknowledge his efforts in promoting economic activity in his home state of Tasmania. Under this government Australia is open for business. We want to see more jobs for Australians, a strong and growing economy, greater investment and more opportunities for Australia's trade and export businesses.

I have put what we call 'economic diplomacy' at the heart of Australia's engagement with the world. The goal of traditional diplomacy is peace. The goal of economic diplomacy is prosperity.

We are harnessing our diplomatic network to promote Australia as an attractive place to invest and do business. I have requested every one of our 96 heads of mission overseas to produce a business plan for our diplomatic teams to identify opportunities for the private sector to increase trade and investment between Australia and the host country. Yesterday the government published the first edition of what we call Business Envoy, a bi-monthly publication that shares market intelligence from our global diplomatic network. This is going to be a great resource, a great tool, for Australian businesses.

We have delivered on our promise to promote and conclude free trade agreements with Korea, China and Japan. Together these nations account for about 55 per cent of all of Australia's exports. These agreements mean more jobs for Australians. It is expected that the Korea free trade agreement alone will help create 1,700 jobs from increased exports in its first year of operation.

The Japanese free trade agreement is the most liberalising agreement on agriculture that Japan has ever undertaken, creating significant opportunities for Australia's dairy, beef and seafood industries, which will be important for Tasmania. The agreement also slashes tariffs on manufactured goods and guarantees access to the Japanese market for services, including from our finance, legal, education and tourism sectors.

The recently concluded China free trade agreement will produce a similar story. All free trade agreements were finalised and achieved within 16 months of taking office.

We are also investing in a generation of students through the New Colombo Plan to better understand our region and the opportunities our region offers. We want our young people to be more Asia-literate so that they can take advantage of the re-emergence of Asia as a dynamic economic region–a projected middle class, a consumer class, of over three billion people–within the next 15 years.The challenges and opportunities identified in the Intergenerational report that the Treasurer released today make it even more important that we continue to find new markets and enhance existing markets, enhance the established markets, for our goods and services. This will enhance our future prosperity. This government has shown that it has the vision and the resolve to achieve this.

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