Question time - Trade

  • Transcript, E&OE

Ms MARINO (Forrest–Chief Government Whip) (14:21): Myquestion is to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Will the minister update theHouse on how the coalition's economic diplomacy agenda is helping Australianbusinesses gain greater access to overseas markets?

Ms JULIE BISHOP (Curtin–Minister for Foreign Affairs) (14:22): I thank the member for Forrest for her question. Iacknowledge her support for the strong agricultural sector in her electorate,with its world-class beef and dairy farmers and its world-class wines andhorticulturalists.

One of the government's signature foreign policyinitiatives–economic diplomacy–will ensure that our innovative andworld-leading agriculturalists, and our small-business operators and producers,are successful in export markets, either by finding new markets or by enhancingexisting markets for our exporters. Economic diplomacy is about promotingprosperity, and a key element of the policy is of course trade. We have signedthree free-trade deals with our North Asian neighbours. Today, of course, weare so pleased to have the support of the opposition for the China free-tradeagreement. This will make a significant difference to our exporters,particularly in the agriculture sector. I want to pay tribute to ourindefatigable trade and investment minister for his work on these threefree-trade agreements.

However, our economic diplomacy initiative is also aboutharnessing every aspect of our diplomatic network to support the efforts ofAustralian businesses overseas. Indeed, our heads of mission are specificallytasked with increasing economic ties between Australia and the host country. Ihave made supporting our businesses who are seeking to operate overseas, or whoare working overseas, a core duty of our ambassadors and our highcommissioners–part of their everyday work. And this is yielding results.

For example, in Sri Lanka our officials have helped WesternAustralian based company, Wellard Rural Exports, to finalise a five-year cattlesupply contract. Last year our diplomats in Hong Kong successfully negotiatedthe resumption of dairy imports from an Australian company to ensure continuityof sales. In Brazil our diplomats have assisted Australian fashion designers toshowcase at the Sao Paulo Fashion Week next year–the year of the Olympics inBrazil. The Sao Paulo Fashion Week is the fifth-largest in the world.

Mr Danby: Whathappened to your support for Mr Putin?

Ms JULIE BISHOP: Notonly will this impact on our $12 billion fashion industry it will have aflow-on effect for our textile and materials producers in cotton, leather andwool, for example.

Mr Danby: Putin–hernew favourite!

Ms JULIE BISHOP: ThroughTourism Australia we have also run a global Restaurant Australia campaign thattargeted four million Britons and has resulted in a significant increase intourism enquiries that will translate into increased tourism visitors here.Similar campaigns in other nations around the world are highlighting thehigh-quality food and wine available in Australia, including in the beautifulMargaret River.

This government is committed to finding more opportunities forAustralian businesses to export goods and services overseas.

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