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New Trade Minister gets set for the global circuit

New Trade Minister gets set for the global circuit article image

Newly appointed Trade Minister Simon Birmingham will hit the ground running with a host of key trade deals still to be finalised.

Senator Birmingham takes over the trade role from Steven Ciobo who has been appointed Defence Industry Minister in the Morrison Government’s new cabinet.

The South Australian senator, who will be sworn in to the new job this week, previously served as Minister for Education and Training in Malcolm Turnbull’s Government.

Before being elected to Parliament he worked across key industry sectors including wine, tourism and hospitality.

One of his first tasks will be to finalise the long-awaited free trade agreement with Indonesia.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison will fly to Jakarta this week for a joint announcement with the Indonesian government that an FTA is imminent.

The agreement is expected to be signed by both nations in September or October and as Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, Senator Birmingham will play a key role.

Also, later this year he will advance negotiations for an Australia-European Union Free Trade Agreement and continue talks with Britain for a post Brexit trade deal.

Ambitious trade agenda

Mr Ciobo said the Turnbull Government had “pursued the most ambitious trade agenda in Australia’s history.”

This included launching free trade agreement negations with the European Union, Hong Kong, the Pacific Alliance and re-launching negations with Indonesia.

“I am confident Simon Birmingham will advance these negotiations to conclusion,” Mr Ciobo said. 

He said the government has created more opportunities for Australian exporters by recently:

  • Concluding the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership
  • Signing an agreement to Amend the Singapore-Australia Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA)
  • Signing the Peru-Australia Free Trade Agreement (PAFTA) and
  • Finalising the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations Plus (PACER Plus)

“The tourism industry continues to go from strength to strength,” said Mr Ciobo.

“As Minister I secured record funding for Tourism Australia, which helped deliver record numbers of international tourists visiting Australia and spending record amounts.

“Earlier this year I convened a steering committee of tourism industry leaders to develop the next long-term tourism strategy.

“I have no doubt Simon Birmingham will continue to drive this initiative to ensure our vibrant tourism industry continues to grow.”

Mr Ciobo, who takes over his new portfolio this week, worked closely with Defence Minister Christopher Pyne to develop the Defence Export Strategy. This included the creation of the $3.8 billion Defence Export Facility managed by Efic.

Mr Ciobo said it had been a privilege to work alongside Julie Bishop for the past three years.

“Her sterling performance as Australia’s Foreign Minister has promoted Australia’s place in the world,” he said.

Outstanding achievements

Senator Birmingham acknowledged the “outstanding achievements of Steven Ciobo and Malcolm Turnbull” in trade and tourism.

“I look forward to again supporting the hardworking Australians whose efforts in trade and tourism underpin so much of our national prosperity,” he said.

“Australia’s openness to the world is an essential ingredient in the jobs of millions of Australians.”

Senator Birmingham grew up near Gawler in Adelaide’s north on his family’s small horse agistment property. He holds a Masters of Business Administration which he completed at the University of Adelaide.

He has served as a Liberal Party Senator for South Australia since May 2007. He and his wife Courtney have two young daughters, Matilda and Amelia.

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