Question Time: Trade

  • Transcript, E&OE

Mr WYATT (Hasluck) (14:18): My question is to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Will the minister explain how this government's free trade agreements with China, Korea and Japan will deliver jobs and growth to Western Australia? Minister, are there any threats to the realisation of these benefits?

Ms JULIE BISHOP (Curtin–Minister for Foreign Affairs) (14:18): I thank the member for Hasluck for his question. He understands the strong link between the Western Australian economy and the economies of the three giant North Asian countries with whom we have negotiated free trade agreements. In fact, Western Australia is more dependent upon the Chinese market for our exports than any other state or territory–five times more than Queensland, 10 times more than New South Wales and 13 times more than Victoria. In 2014, Western Australia exported almost three times more goods to China than Japan, Western Australia's next largest trading partner. In the last year, China accounted for over 50 per cent of Western Australia's exports, with a value of over $64 billion, and the resources industry makes up around two-thirds of that percentage.

Under the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement, all tariffs on resources and energy products will be eliminated. I say that again: they will be eliminated. Most of these gains will happen when the agreement enters into force. The agreement means certainty for other commodities, locking in zero tariffs for iron, gold, crude petroleum and LNG. Removing these tariffs means security and the competitive advantage of Australian exports within the Chinese market. It means more jobs for Western Australians and more jobs across the country. This is not rocket science. Last year, China also accounted for almost $1½ billion of WA's total agricultural exports. China was Western Australia's largest market for barley, wool, mutton, oats, sheepskins and wine–fabulous West Australian wines. The agreement will remove the significant tariff on these products, as well as on seafood, effective as soon as the agreement enters into force. And the tariffs of between 10 and 25 per cent on beef, sheepmeat, live animals and wine will be eliminated.

I cannot understand why Labor is opposing the China free trade agreement. Opposing this agreement means Labor is opposing jobs and growth for Western Australia. Western Australia has the most to gain from this free trade agreement and the most to lose from this union led propaganda campaign. I do not know why I have to remind the Leader of the Opposition that it was the trade between China and Western Australia that powered our country during the global financial crisis; it was not Labor's chaotic economic management. The trade union campaign is an assault on Western Australia. The Leader of the Opposition has thrown his lot in with militant east coast unionists against the people of Western Australia. He would rather forgo Western Australia's future economic prosperity than stand up to the unions and stand up for Western Australian workers.

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