Question Time: Trade

  • Transcript, E&OE

Mr GOODENOUGH (Moore) (14:39): My question is to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Will the minister update the House on how the series of recently concluded free trade agreements will boost Australia's prosperity and create jobs for Australians both now and in the future?

Ms JULIE BISHOP (Curtin–Minister for Foreign Affairs) (14:40): I thank the member for Moore for his question. As he knows, Australia is the 12th largest economy in the world and the fifth largest on a per capita basis. This is due in large part to the fact that we are an open, export-oriented market economy. Our jobs growth, our economic growth and our standard of living depend upon the capacity of our exporters, our businesses, to trade their goods and services around the world. This government is committed to securing Australian jobs and further prosperity by supporting private enterprise and innovation in finding new markets for our goods and services. A key element of that support is of course opening up new markets and enhancing existing markets, and that is why the Minister for Trade and Investment, Andrew Robb, has concluded these three free trade agreements with South Korea, Japan and China. This will give Australian businesses access to greater opportunities than ever before. Likewise, the success of the Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations will also expand business opportunities for the 12 countries of the TPP. They represent about 40 per cent of the global economy–a marketplace of around 800 million people comprising a quarter of the world's trade. The 11 other countries, apart from Australia, in the TPP already represent a third of Australia's exports, so the boost to jobs and economic growth through more open markets will be significant. We are already seeing the private sector seize on the opportunities. McWilliams Wines, which employs around 200 staff already, have said of the Japan-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement:

We have orders in hand now to take advantage of JAEPA. These orders have been generated as a direct impact of JAEPA and more are in the pipeline as new customers engage directly with McWilliams.

The director, Mark Healy, went on to say:

The JAEPA has opened up new opportunities as Australia becomes more cost competitive …

As for the China FTA, he said:

We have seen an increased level of interest in Australian wine … Many of these enquiries are from new customers looking to replace supply from countries that do not enjoy a FTA with China.

Another Australian company, Blackmores, has significantly expanded its presence, and its CEO, Christine Holgate, has said of the FTAs:

I can absolutely see the demand for our products from Chinese consumers. I can also see that there's a big differential in pricing between Australia and China …

She said that this China free trade agreement would take that away and make their products more accessible to more Chinese people. She went on to say:

The more that we grow in those markets, the more money we have to re-invest into research back here and into local jobs.

This government will pursue every opportunity available to us to conclude more free trade agreements, particularly with more countries in our region. This will create new markets for Australian businesses, particularly those that are innovative, those that are creative, because they will be competitive.

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