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Free trade agreements ‘to help drive economy and jobs’

Free trade agreements ‘to help drive economy and jobs’ article image

More export opportunities will be opened up as the government follows through on its export trade agreements with key trading partners, Treasurer Scott Morrison told Parliament in his first budget speech last night.

Mr Morrison said recently signed trade agreements are already delivering new jobs and markets for Australian producers, manufacturers and service providers right across the country.

And in a statement following the Budget, Trade Minister Steven Ciobo said the government would continue to pursue its ambitious trade agenda.

“Removing trade barriers lays the groundwork for our transitioning economy,” Mr Ciobo said.

“Australians will see key benefits from greater access to overseas markets and more affordable prices for household items.”

The FTA portal set up earlier this year to help businesses take full advantage of free trade agreements with China, Japan and Korea has been given a funding boost in the Budget.

The government will invest $1.8 million to expand the portal to all FTAs and Austrade will boost the Open for Business website.

International trade data

The FTA portal provides comprehensive tariff information and product specific Australian and international trade data to help businesses assess how their products meet the requirements of the FTAs.

And funding has been allocated to Austrade to establish five overseas Landing Pads to connect Australian entrepreneurs to global innovation hubs and promote the commercialisation of Australian ideas.

Landing Pad have already been announced for San Francisco, Tel Aviv, Shanghai and most recently Berlin under the government’s National Science and Innovation Agenda (NISA).

The location of the final Landing Pad is expected to be announced soon.

Mr Ciobo said the Government’s key trade achievements in 2015-16 include:

  • The entry into force of the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA) in December 2015, which facilitates our access to China’s increasingly wealthy consumer base
  • The signing of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement in February 2016, the most significant trade and investment agreement finalised in more than two decades with member countries accounting for around 40 per cent of global GDP
  • Agreement between the 163 members of the WTO in December 2015 to eliminate more than $15 billion of agricultural export subsidy entitlements, which for decades have threatened the livelihoods of Australian farmers
  • The decision to relaunch FTA negotiations with Indonesia in March 2016, a significant milestone towards realising the huge opportunities that sit on our doorstep and
  • The EU’s agreement in 2015 to commence work toward the launch of FTA negotiations – an important market for Australia accounting for more than 12 per cent of our total trade. 

“These achievements will boost opportunities for Australian exports, enhance market access for the Australian services sector, cut costs for Australian businesses and consumers and open up greater investment opportunities,” Mr Ciobo said.

“Labor had six years to conclude trade agreements with China, Korea and Japan but did nothing. Australian exporters lost market share in these countries as our competitors concluded trade deals and Labor sat on its hands.”

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