National Press Club Address – Economic statecraft in a challenging time

  • Speech, check against delivery
National Press Club

I would like to begin by acknowledging the traditional owners of the land on which we meet.

I pay my respects to their Elders, past, present and emerging.

I’d like to thank the National Press Club for hosting me today in very different circumstances than usual but that demonstrate their capacity to innovate.

The backdrop today I hope will inspire all those watching to travel again and especially to the most beautiful part of Australia, Western Victoria.


In 1857, 42 years after the end of the Napoleonic Wars that had witnessed most of Europe in conflict and claimed an estimated five million lives, the British MP Richard Cobden made an observation that has more than stood the test of time.

He said: free trade is God's diplomacy–the only certain way of uniting people in the bonds of peace, since the more freely goods cross borders, the less likely it is that troops will ever cross borders.

Free trade drives economic growth, improves living standards and creates the conditions for peaceful co-existence.

Trade also develops co-operation, builds trust and encourages respect between trading partners.

Given its importance, it is hard to separate our economic interests from our security interests.

Economic statecraft remains integral to national security, defence and foreign relations.

And today, more so than ever.

Geostrategic competition is taking place in the economic realm as fiercely as it is in all others.

Australia knows this only too well.  That is why we are working so hard to shape an open, peaceful and prosperous Indo-Pacific and to diversify to minimise the impacts that economic coercion can have on our economy.

All countries are vulnerable to having trade used against them.

The best protection though lies in more trade not less; being more open and having even stronger economic partners.

Trade isn’t a zero sum game. When I win, you don’t lose.

That is the essence of Cobden’s remark, when economic statecraft is working at its best, trade is flowing freely and everyone is benefitting. The rising tide lifts all boats.

Free trade and open markets backed by clear rules that are fairly enforced offers the clearest path for all countries to grow and prosper.

Australia believes in the power of open, global markets.  We practice what we preach.

Our prosperity, built on 28 successive years of pre-pandemic economic growth, is a function of that commitment.


It is why our economic statecraft is principled; proactive and, where necessary, patient.

The three Ps.

Being principled is very important to all of us as individuals.

And Australia, in its engagement with the world, is principled.

We act in our national interest, as you would expect all countries to do.

And we are always prepared to sit down and have the difficult conversations.

We also act to support and promote the rules-based trading system, whether it be bilaterally, regionally or multilaterally.

This principle is hard-wired into the Coalition — and we have a proud record of delivery in this area.

Bilaterally, our Government has overseen the size of our trading markets covered by free trade agreements grow from 26 per cent to 70 per cent — that equates to preferential access to an additional 2.7 billion customers.

And when the Australia-UK free trade agreement is finalised, that coverage will grow to 75 per cent.

Regionally, we continue to be one of the most active members of APEC, which is why we have so warmly welcomed the US and Peru’s commitment to host in 2023 and 2024, respectively.

We are about to ratify RCEP and we played a key role with Japan in rescuing the TPP and turning it into the gold standard CPTPP.

Keeping this economic grouping as the “go to” gold standard agreement in the region continues to be our priority.

Multilaterally, our commitment to the WTO remains as strong as ever, demonstrated by our leadership on issues like e-commerce and digital trade and through the Cairns Group.


When it comes to economic statecraft we have always been proactive as a nation.

And being proactive works.

It got me on a plane to the United Kingdom in April so I could sit down with the then UK Secretary of State for International Trade, Liz Truss.

At that meeting we made significant progress on our free trade agreement, and agreed to the timeframe which led to Prime Ministers Morrison and Johnson announcing an agreement in principle in June.  We will hopefully finalise the agreement in October – from start to finish this will be the fastest Australia has ever negotiated a major free trade agreement.

Being proactive is why I will head to India next week to see if we can get similar momentum happening on our free trade agreement with India.

Principle, proactive and patient – and here is why the third “P” is important.

Patience has been essential in our dealings with our largest trading partner, China.

When I became Trade Minister, I wrote to my Chinese counterpart in January setting out how we can work more closely together. I am still waiting for a reply.

Last week China formerly sought accession to the CPTPP.

As I have said, the CPTPP is the ‘gold standard’ agreement in the Indo-Pacific and all members have agreed that any country that wishes to accede to it will have to abide by all the rules and the standards. 

All parties will want to be confident that any new member will meet, implement and adhere to the high standards of the agreement as well as to their WTO commitments and their existing trade agreements, because it’s in everyone’s interests that everyone plays by the rules.

One of the most important things about negotiating the accession process of any country into the CPTPP is that you have to be able to sit down at ministerial level, look your economic partner in the eye, and talk about that accession process.

This is what we have done with the UK, who are first in line to accede, and we want to do the same with China.

We want a constructive relationship with China and we remain open to sitting down and working through our differences.

While there are clearly challenges in our relationship that shouldn’t over-shadow the strong mutual interests in the bilateral trade and investment relationship.

And while we are being patient, we are also being proactive in supporting Australian exporters to diversify their international customers by expanding our extensive network of bilateral and regional free trade agreements, resolving non-tariff barriers and supporting new opportunities through our domestic programs, such as the Agri-Business Expansion Initiative.


‘The three Ps’ is the framework that I will apply next week when I travel overseas for a series of engagements to represent Australia’s interests in multilateral meetings and to drum up more business for our exporters.

In normal times the trade minister leaving the country would be as newsworthy as dog bites man. However, these are not normal times.

This will be my third international trip in 2021—and I will have spent more days riding my exercise bike alone in quarantine than a Tour de France cyclist spends in the saddle.

And while you cannot put a price on the value of looking someone in the eye when you are discussing trade deals and opportunities, I do empathise with the Australians who have been denied the opportunity to travel overseas this year — it’s another reason why everyone should get vaccinated and we have to stick to the national plan that will see our international border open up – at this rate by Christmas at the latest.

The first stop on this trip is Jakarta, where I will meet Minister Lutfi, in recognition of our close friendship and growing economic relationship.

Indonesia is on track to be one of the world’s ten largest economies by the middle of next decade…..and our exports that support Indonesia’s manufacturing sector, such as wheat and iron ore, are growing significantly.

Through our growing trade relationship, bolstered by the Indonesia Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, we are helping to support the economic growth and stability of the world’s fourth largest country by population. IA-CEPA, as our agreement is called, is creating opportunities for Australian business unimaginable only a few years ago.

Australia is proud of the role we are playing in Indonesia’s urbanisation, their steadily growing middle class and how our economic relationship is creating opportunities for Indonesian and Australian businesses.

In Jakarta I will launch a Blueprint for Trade and Investment with Indonesia – to help Australian business take advantage of the opportunities, which complements the 40 million dollar ‘Katalis’ program launched in July.

The Blueprint focuses on targeted sectors and markets with room for

growth, with opportunities for Australian businesses to align their capabilities with Indonesia’s priorities.

Australia’s principles-driven trading relationship is supporting growth and stability in Indonesia that benefits them, us and the Indo-Pacific.

The second stop on my trip will be India, another partner with a mutual interest in an open, inclusive and resilient Indo-Pacific.

Two years from now, India, the world’s biggest democracy, is on track to become the world’s most populous nation.

Backed by one million Indians turning 18 every month, rapid urbanisation and industrialisation, and a drive for technological innovation and digitisation, India’s economic story offers enormous promise.

We all have a stake in India’s success.

Prime Minister Modi’s government has begun promoting a free trade narrative and is seeking closer economic ties with like-minded nations, including Australia.

For Australia there are significant growth opportunities in critical minerals, infrastructure, energy, technology, agriculture, education and space – and it is these sectors we will place particular emphasis on in the Government’s soon-to-be-released update to Peter Varghese’s India Economic Strategy.

While in India, I will seek to further advance our recent progress towards a free trade agreement, or what is called the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement, CECA.

Both countries are committed to achieving an early harvest announcement on an interim agreement to liberalise and deepen bilateral trade in goods and services, and pave the way for an early conclusion of a full CECA.

Piyush Goyal, the Indian Trade Minister, and myself are seeking to make progress towards an interim deadline. It’s an ambitious approach, and this meeting will be crucial, but it’s one that can be achieved if both sides are seeking a truly complementary agreement.

We are working towards an agreement that aligns with our principles and encourages expanded trade and investment flows to the benefit of the economies and peoples of both countries.

The growing size and strength of the Indonesian and Indian economies is a win for Australia, for our region and the world.

We want to play our part in that.

The next stop on my itinerary will be the United Arab Emirates - Australia’s largest trading partner and second largest investment partner in the Middle East.

The UAE has raised the possibility of negotiating an FTA. I want to discuss — face-to-face — strengthening our bilateral relationship, either directly or regionally through the Gulf Cooperation Council.

Australia has an established and growing presence in the UAE, including in building, construction, financial and health services, agricultural supplies, education and training services and sports and recreation.

In Europe, I will represent Australia at the OECD Ministerial Council Meeting in Paris and the G20 Trade Minister’s Meeting in Italy.

At the OECD, I will host a WTO mini-ministerial meeting, while at the G20 our priorities will focus on strengthening global trade rules and keeping supply chains open and resilient.

These are important meetings as Australia seeks to harness the power of open, global markets to benefit all countries.

This is crucial as we enter into a new and more complex era of geostrategic competition.

Australia will use these meetings to drive meaningful action focussed on the World Trade Organisation.

As Prime Minister Morrison has said: A well-functioning WTO that sets clear rules, arbitrates disputes objectively and efficiently and penalises bad behaviour when it occurs…can be one of the most powerful tools the international community has to counter economic coercion.

Respect for the WTO’s rulebook has largely kept protectionist instincts at bay during the COVID-19 pandemic.

That's why strengthening the WTO is one of Australia's top priorities.

Australia wants to see action on four issues.

  • One. A WTO trade and health outcome to contribute to health and economic recovery from the pandemic and facilitate access to medical goods, including COVID-19 vaccines.
  • Two. An outcome on services domestic regulation, which will assist our services exporters hard hit by the pandemic.
  • Three. A new agreement to reduce harmful fisheries subsidies to help support global fish stocks.
  • And four. A way forward on reforming trade-distorting domestic support on agriculture, which remains the most protected and distorted of all sectors. Australia’s focus is on capping and reducing growing levels of agricultural subsidy entitlements which are forecast to reach two trillion dollars by 2030. That’s worth repeating, two trillion dollars by 2030. That’s why we have to act in this area.

We want to see action at the WTO but, as importantly, we want to see reform.

The WTO remains our best-placed global institution to deliver on Cobden’s vision of the free trade of goods as our strongest protection against the misuse of economic statecraft.


While in Europe, I will also meet again with the EU trade representative, Valdis Dombrovskis, as we progress towards concluding a free trade agreement.

FTA negotiations are always tough and hard fought, but we have made substantial progress during rounds 10 and 11 of negotiations.

Key areas of the negotiations have been moving positively, including on market access for goods, services and investment, and in areas of particular interest for the EU, such as geographical indications.

In fact, as a demonstration of the business as usual approach we continue to take, I have just signed off on our GI offer so our negotiators can discuss it with the EU over the coming days.

The Australia-EU FTA is in the best interests of all parties.

The EU will use it as a way to strengthen its engagement with the Indo-Pacific because they realise that the region carries the economic weight of the world. When I was in Europe in May visiting Germany, Belgium and France I heard one common refrain, if Europe can’t negotiate an FTA with Australia, who in the Indo-Pacific could they negotiate one with.

For the French, who export 6.17 billion dollars in goods and services to Australia, while we send 1.37 billion the other way – a comprehensive FTA is very much in their interest.  It would see our economic partnership grow even further.

And for Australia, with the EU our second largest trading partner, liberalised, open trade is always in our interests.

We have a strong relationship with the EU, built on our shared commitment to democracy, human rights, the rule of law and economic openness.

And the sign of a healthy relationship is the ability to sit down and discuss issues face-to-face and, where necessary, to have difficult conversations.

Australia understands France’s deep disappointment with the decision on submarines.

But ultimately any nation must act in its national interest – which is what we have done.

Australia is always open to sitting down with our friends and working through difficult issues.

With France our ties are deep.

One of the great honours of my Parliamentary career has been giving the Dawn Service address at Villers Bretonneux.  The service and sacrifice made by French and Australian soldiers on the Western Front still stands today as living testimony of the values we share and is so beautifully memorialised by the Sir John Monash Centre. Monash, of course, having helped change the course of the war.

If any in the EU need reassuring about the free trade agreement, they need only look at our current defence purchases of destroyers, amphibious assault ships and Boxer Combat Reconnaissance vehicles - multi-billion dollar purchases from European defence suppliers.


In the United Kingdom, I’m looking forward to my first meeting with newly appointed Secretary of State for International Trade Anne-Marie Trevelyan to conclude our bilateral Free Trade Agreement negotiations. And I had another call with her as we continue to progress this last night.

You’ll remember when our Prime Ministers announced the agreement in principle in June, Prime Minister Johnson saying, “you give us Tim Tams, we give you Penguins,” well I recently tried a Penguin biscuit for the first time and I can honestly say the Brits are getting the better part of that deal.

But more importantly, this is the most comprehensive and ambitious agreement that Australia has concluded outside of New Zealand.

Our FTA will be modern and comprehensive – with Australia and the UK eliminating tariffs on around 99 per cent of goods exports by value on entry into force and ground-breaking sections covering people-to-people movement, investment and government procurement.

We want the Australia-UK FTA to be an example to the world that embracing free trade is the best way out of the pandemic.  

Australia believes that as we look to the challenges that lie ahead of us – whether in recovery from COVID-19, transitioning to a zero emissions future, or combatting new threats from economic statecraft, it is clear that free trade offers us the best solutions.

Trade will be the engine that drives us on the pathway out of this pandemic.

An open, liberalised and rules-based global trading system will benefit Australia, our region and the world.

It will create and sustain jobs. With one in five Australian jobs already reliant on trade — including one in four in regional Australia — and one in 10 reliant on Foreign Direct Investment.

Trade underpins our economic success.

Trade will also generate new opportunities in areas such as critical minerals, space and clean energy.

Reducing carbon emissions won’t be achieved by raising barriers to trade, it will be achieved by lowering the cost, and accelerating the uptake of green technology globally, particularly in developing countries - and that is the Australian approach. We want to incentivise not penalise when it comes to emission reductions.

The best thing we can do to be prepared for our next challenge is to do what we can to create a world at peace. 164 years ago, Richard Cobden saw trade as the vehicle of uniting people and keeping the peace.

Australia continues to be principled, proactive and patient as we seek to realise that vision, especially in the Indo-Pacific.

Thank you very much

Laura Tingle: Thank you, minister, for your address. If I could just open up by taking up some of your points about patience, persistence and proactiveness — sorry, principled, patient and proactive, I just wonder whether you could tell us whether you were consulted before this deal on the submarines was made, given its implications for our relationship with China and given its implications for our relationship with France, whether you had been able to discuss in Cabinet what the trade implications may be?

Dan Tehan: Well, as you know, Laura, these decisions are made on a need-to-know basis and they're also made within Cabinet and with the national security committee of Cabinet and I'm not going to discuss who needed to know and when they needed to know. But what I can say is that I fully, fully understand, all the Cabinet understands, and all the members of the Government understands, how important this decision has been for our national interests and that's why the decision was taken.

One of my jobs, as Australia's trade minister, is to make sure that I can go out and explain that to countries across the globe so that they understand that what this decision was about. It was about protecting our national interest, our security interests, and that there is no reason why that decision shouldn't enable us to continue to engage across the globe specially especially on the economic front because that is so important, as I have noted in the speech, to the future prosperity of the world.

Laura Tingle: Does it reflect a view, though, that letter in response of yours to the Chinese trade minister isn't likely to be coming any time soon?

Dan Tehan: Well, look, I hope that I will get a response. Obviously, I wrote that letter in January and I wrote that with a very best intentions and in very good faith. As I outlined in my speech, one of the key things, now that we have China formally applying to accede to CPTPP, will be the need for us to sit down and work through that — like in the UK — at ministerial level, as part of our free trade agreements, especially on the goods market access, has been part of the UK's accession process to the CPTPP. And for those discussions and negotiations do occur, you have to be able to undertake those at the ministerial level.

So, my hope is that I will get a response to that letter and that I will be able to sit down with my Chinese counterpart. You know, we have a very complementary bilateral and economic relationship with China and it's helped lift, you know, millions out of poverty in China, it's helped us maintain our way of life here in Australia and my hope is that we will be able to sit down, talk about CPTPP accession and the other issues we're dealing with at the moment.

Laura Tingle: The next question is from David Crowe. Sorry, David seems to be on mute. While he sorts that out, I'll just ask you another question.

You mentioned that - you mentioned Napoleonic wars which is an interesting way of starting the speech in the current circumstances. I just wonder - it's correct, isn't it, that the free trade agreement with the European Union would have to be ratified by every party in the EU?

Dan Tehan: Well, it ultimately has to be ratified by the EU Parliament and that's done with discussions with individual members and I'll continue, obviously, to engage with all EU partners as we progress the free trade negotiation, because that's important part of the advocacy as we conduct the FTA negotiations. It's why earlier in the year I went and met with the German, the Belgium, and the French trade ministers as part of that advocacy and it's why I'll be seeking to meet with European trade ministers when I'm in Paris at the OECD and at the G20 meeting as well as part of my next trip because, obviously, you do the direct negotiations with the European Union, but it's very important that, as part of that, you keep your advocacy efforts up with each of the individual members of the EU.

Laura Tingle: We'll have another attempt to hear David Crowe.

David Crowe: Thanks Laura, good to know that glitch has been fixed. Thank you, Minister, for your speech. David Crowe from the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. I wanted to follow-up on Laura's initial question. Will you, at a point, at any stage, where you could have raised the submarine issue with your French counterpart because I'm interested in your opinion on whether you feel they have any right to feel aggrieved about the way this has been handled? They have called it a stab in the back. Do you think that they are - they have any grounds for grief on that? Could you have raised it with your French counterpart?

Dan Tehan: Well, look, David, I can understand why France is disappointed. Obviously, this was a major contract that we had with a large defence supplier in France, but what you also have to understand is the partnership that we have put in place with the US and the UK had to be conducted at the top-secret level, had to be conducted at a need-to-know level and a need-to-know way. That's what the government did because that's the only way that we could make sure that, ultimately, we could get and cement the partnership that we have, which will not only gives us access to nuclear-propelled submarines, but also will give us access to missiles, advance missiles technology, to advance cyber technology, to AI, and a raft of materials, a raft of hardware and equipment that will enable us to keep ourselves safe in what is a very challenging geostrategic environment currently. So that's why the decision was made. Obviously, the US have not entered into a partnership like this outside entering into it with the UK which they did over 50 years ago. So, the discussions had to be done at a top-secret level and kept secret. I mean, that was a clear way we could actually demonstrate that we could be a willing partner to such an arrangement. So I think everyone's just got to understand that the nature of the discussions, the nature of the need to keep them secret and that was ultimately, in the end, the way we had to do it and, ultimately, in the end, we had to get an outcome which is clearly in our national interest.

That's something I'm very keen to explore with all my European counterparts and also send a very clear message to them with regards to the FTA — this FTA is in their interest and it's in our interest and, in particular, it's in their interest in the way that will enable them to engage in the Indo-Pacific. We very much see this free trade agreement as a way of drawing the EU further into the Indo-Pacific and making sure they can be part of the area which carries the economic weight of the world and that will, obviously, help them develop partnerships and relationships in the region which I think will help and keep it open, which will help keep it peaceful and help keep it prosperous, which is in their interests and is in our interests.

Laura Tingle: The next question is from Sarah Ison.

Sarah Ison: Sara Ison from the West Australian. Minister, Scott Morrison has greeted the European Council President Charles Michel in New York and said he's looking forward to discussing the EU doing more in the Indo-Pacific. And Michel replied, thank you for your message, but as you know for us transparency and loyalty are fundamental principles. Are you concerned about this? Is this seriously not a concern? And what does any stumbling block with the EU free trade deal mean for Australian farmers, suppliers and workers?

Dan Tehan: Obviously, the PM is having meetings in New York at the moment. He's having them with individual countries, with Sweden, with Austria and with the EU Commission itself and with the President of the EU Commission, and one of the good things about us, you know, or the PM being able to have those meetings is it's given him the ability to be able to sit down and, obviously, be able to detail why Australia has taken this decision, the rationale behind taking it, how it's very much in our national interest but I think also importantly to send that clear message of how important it is and how we want EU engagement in the Indo-Pacific. Now, with regards to the free trade agreements specifically, obviously, we have had the 10th and 11th rounds where we have seen substantial progress being made. The 12th round is scheduled to take place in October. We're confident that that 12th round will start to move the outcome towards an end game which hopefully we will be able to conclude some time next year. Now, what we have to do as part of those negotiations is make sure that that end game is in the interests of our farmers. As you know, these FTAs are hard-fought and especially when it comes to agriculture and that will be one of the key things I'll be discussing with Valdis Dombrovskis, the EU Trade Commissioner, when I travel to Brussels next week because I want to make sure that there's a clear understanding that part of our interests are very much about getting as much access as we possibly can for our farmers. Just like their interests are when it comes to services, when it comes to investment and other areas. So that will be part of the discussions that I have with Valdis Dombrovskis, but very much one of our key priorities is to make sure that we can get a very balanced agreement across agricultural goods, services, investment, when it comes to e-commerce, and a number of other areas and seeking that balance is going to be difficult but we're confident that we'll be able to achieve it over the coming months

Laura Tingle: The next question is from Phil Coorey.

Phil Coorey: G’day Mr Tehan, Phil Coorey from the Financial Review. You put conditions on China's accession to the CPTPP including pick up the phone and drop their coercive trade practises. A lot of boffins in the trade industry are saying it's being too prescriptive and one of the best ways to get China to start behaving like a responsible citizen is to get them back into the tent and into the TPP would be a good way of doing that. Are you prepared to be a bit flexible, say, you know, get them in even while they're still putting bans on our barley and prawns and things like that, get them into a forum that forces them to play by the rules and brings a lot of pressure to bear in the region? And secondly, on the TPP, what are the chances do you think of the US having a rethink?

Dan Tehan: One of the things that we have signalled to China because, before they formally expressed their interest in joining the CPTPP, they obviously had sent some clear messages that they were looking at wanting to accede — and one of the things through officials we made clear is — and these, I want to be clear, this isn't a condition, this is really just - just sort of common sense, or just the practical reality — is that as part of an accession process, we need to be able to sit down at the ministerial level to work through it. You have to be able to have the discussions around goods market access at the ministerial level. These are ultimately decisions which always end up at the ministerial level. There's never been a free trade agreement that's purely been negotiated at official’s level. It's not placing conditions on anything. All it's saying is that the practical reality is that we’re going to have to work through issues, whether it be good markets access negotiations that will be part of the CPTPP negotiations or how China would be able to demonstrate that it could adhere to the gold standards that CPTPP sees as so, so important. So very much not conditions. It's really just a way of saying, this is another reason why it's important for us to be able to sit down and work through these issues.

With regards to the US, when I went to Washington a couple of months ago to meet with USTR Katherine Tai, very much the focus of my discussions with her were about a digital regional trade agreement, very much as a step of getting US engagement, economic engagement, back into the Indo-Pacific and that was very much the focus of our discussions. There's been some positive noises out of Washington on that and we will continue to advocate for a regional digital trade agreement and we very much are keen for the US to play a key role in that agreement. That's something I also discussed when I was in Singapore, Japan and South Korea — our regional partners are also very keen to see the US step up its economic engagement in the Indo-Pacific and we all agree that a digital regional trade agreement would be the best way for them to do that in the first instance.

Laura Tingle: The next question is from Tom Stayner.

Tom Stayner: Thanks, Minister. Tom Stayner from SBS. Today we saw the UN Secretary-General reprimand the world over the inequitable distribution of Covid-19 vaccines, describing this as an obscenity and giving the world an F in ethics. With it many mind, what do you see as the answer to addressing this problem? And does it hinge on the WTO agreeing to a waiver on intellectual property rights for Covid-19 vaccines?

Dan Tehan: Thank you and it’s an excellent question and you will have seen when I talked about our WTO priorities, the number one priority that we have is the WTO trade and health agreement, which has been led by a group called the Ottawa Group, which is chaired by Canada, and Australia is a participant of. And very much part of the focus of those trade and health negotiations is around what we can do to lift the level of production of Covid-19 vaccines globally so we can get a much more equitable distribution of Covid-19 vaccines. Now a TRIPS waiver is a very much a part of those discussions, and you'll recall when the US administration, President Biden, came out and said that they would support a TRIPS waiver, Prime Minister Morrison came out and said he'd very much welcomed that news, that the US would look to get their - put their support behind a TRIPS waiver. So, we're very much part of those negotiations on trade and health and my hope is that part of those negotiations will lead to an ability for the globe to increase the amount of Covid-19 vaccines that they're manufacturing, so we can deal with that unequitable distribution that we're seeing at the moment.

But can I also just note that Australia, very much, sees that we have a key role to play here and that's why we used the AstraZeneca vaccines that we have manufactured here in Australia to make sure that we're able to provide those to our Pacific friends and also to other countries in the region and we'll continue to do that while also looking to support, very positively, a trade and health outcome at the WTO.

Laura Tingle: Could I just ask, Minister, has that issue of health being brought into the WTO agenda sort of in some ways reinvigorated the WTO, just given that people see a new way through it, given its blockages at institutional level we had on the WTO?

Dan Tehan: Laura, it's a really good question. And in a way, I think, it's going to be a bit of a test of the WTO and as to whether we can get an outcome which all parties can agree to which takes that trade and health initiative forward. Obviously one of the issues with the WTO over the last five, ten years, as people have seen it not being able to set the rules for what we need for a modern world, well, this trade and health now, I think, is a test and it's one which the WTO Director-General is very much aware of and she has put a lot of time and effort in trying to see whether we can get a resolution on trade and health, because she understands if the WTO is going to be important and relevant going forward when we have issues like this, when we go through a pandemic like we are, the WTO needs to be able to play its role and that's why I think all members have a real obligation to make sure that they can sit down and put their self-interests aside and make sure we get a very good outcome when it comes to trade and health initiative which ultimately will benefit all of us, because the more we can do to lift productions of the Covid-19 vaccines, the sooner the world gets back on its feet.

We can lift global trade and, as I pointed out, once you start lifting global trade, you start lifting living standards, you create jobs, and that will very much, hopefully, drive our recovery out of this pandemic.

Laura Tingle: Next question is from Olivia Caisley.

Olivia Caisley: Olivia Caisley from The Australian, thanks for your speech. Can you provide an update on the system sharing arrangements for vaccine certificates with countries like the US, Britain, Singapore, Japan, Fiji and Korea ahead of Qantas resuming flights in December? And considering China is our biggest market for international students and tourists, will we accept the Sinovac and Sinopharm vaccines to allow Chinese residents to travel here?

Dan Tehan: Thanks for that question, as Australia's Tourism Minister this is an issue that I'm paying a lot of interest in. And our vaccine certification QR code system has been sent to all of our overseas embassies so we can begin that engagement with overseas posts and overseas countries on making sure that it will be interoperable, and what we have seen so far, and all the reports back, is that the system, the QR code system, which is obviously been modelled on the International Aviation Organisation's model of what they think is needed in a QR code, seems to be interoperable with most of the countries that we have been dealing with. We continue to do all that preparatory work so when those international borders open and, as I said in my speech, hopefully at the latest by Christmas, that Australians will be able to travel with a QR code linked to their passport which will be able to show a proof of vaccination.

Now, when it comes to China and whether Chinese vaccines will be registered here in Australia or not, that ultimately will be a decision which the TGA makes. They are the ones. They're the authority that have looked at it and obviously registered the current vaccines, the Pfizer, the Moderna, and the AstraZeneca here in Australia and they will be the responsible authority that will look at all other vaccines and, ultimately, whether they'll be recognised here in Australia or not.

Laura Tingle: The next question is from Eliza Edwards.

Eliza Edwards: Minister, Eliza Edwards from Channel 9. What is the price of admission for China to enter the CPTPP as far as Australia is concerned? You spoke about leveraging some form of ministerial dialogue. What else could Australia get? Are we expecting China to drop its aggressive trade tactics?

Dan Tehan: What we'd like to see is what we'd like to see from any country that wants to accede to the CPTPP, whether it be the UK, whether it be China, South Korea have also expressed an interest, Thailand I think have also expressed an interest. We want to, A, be able to sit down and have a very good ministerial dialogue around the issues that the accession will involve but also what we also want to make sure is that there is a clear-cut commitment to honouring the existing trade agreements that a country is a party to, so the WTO obligations, the regional trade agreements obligations and their bilateral trade agreement obligations because the CPTPP has gold standard rules that has gold standard obligations. And all countries that are currently a party to it want to make sure that the CPTPP remains that gold standard agreement. So, it's making sure there is an understanding and a commitment and an adherence to trade rules and also an ability to be able to sit down and work through the accession process which ultimately will involve negotiations on goods market access, on services market access, on investment and other key areas.

Laura Tingle: The next question is from Daniel Hurst.

Daniel Hurst: Daniel Hurst from Guardian Australia. Thank you very much for addressing us today. Michael McCormack has told the Guardian today a flat ‘no’ on net zero emissions can threaten Australia's trade relationships and export income? Do you agree with Mr McCormack? And do you share the view of your fellow Liberals, like David Sharma, that we need more credible interim emissions targets; perhaps a new 2035 pledge as part of a pathway to net zero?

Dan Tehan: Well, obviously, Australia has a very clear position at the moment and that is that we're aiming to get as close to net zero by 2050 as we possibly can and we continue to work through that and one of the things that as Trade Minister that I am ultimately seeking to do is to make sure we can put in place the partnerships with other countries, to not only make sure that we can get as near as possible to meeting our commitments, but that they can as well. That's why, for instance, with Singapore we have put in place a green economy agreement which we're currently negotiating which will help our two countries be able to move to get to that net zero emissions by 2050 or as near as possible as we can to it.

And one of the things that we're doing in shaping that agreement, which will be all about emissions reduction and exchange of technologies, eliminating tariffs on goods and environmental goods and services, is that we want other countries then from the region to be able to join us.

It's why when I was in Japan and in South Korea and in Vietnam, we very much had discussions about what we could do to become a trusted supplier of new energy to those countries into the future and, in particular, when it comes to liquid hydrogen, and when I was in Japan I was able to go to Kobai where the first ship that will take liquid hydrogen from Australia to Japan was docked and also the custom-built storage facility for that hydrogen is already set up and established. And very much we see those energy partnerships we're developing with key countries in our region, is absolutely going to be pillars in driving emissions reduction into the future and making sure the world can deal with the climate change threat that we're facing and we'll very much be part of that.

As I have said in my speech, one of the things we want to do is make sure that we don't take an approach that penalises. We want to take an approach that incentivises and everything we'll be doing will be about incentivising partnerships when it comes to technology, when it comes to delivery of services that will help reduce emissions and we'll continue to take that approach. Even when I was in Germany, two or three months ago, one of the key things I discussed there was a partnership we could develop with Germany with regards to hydrogen because 70% of their energy needs are imported and they're also looking for partners that will enable them to transition their economy.

So, I think, Australia is going to play an absolutely key role as we head towards trying to get to that 2050 zero emissions target and trying to help the rest of the world and key countries in our region reach those goals as well.

Laura Tingle: Well, I just wanted to take you up on that before we go to the next question, Minister. You did say in your speech that reducing emissions won't be created by raising barriers to trade. What's your understanding of what the EU's view will be of the role of carbon tariffs? This has been discussed a lot. Do you think they will try to get them included in the FTA? And what would Australia's position be?

Dan Tehan: Well, we obviously oppose carbon border adjustment mechanisms because we see them as protectionism in another guise. And we think that there is a much better way to go about things and that is by reducing tariffs on environmental goods, on environmental services and freeing up the exchange of technology in key ways that will drive down emissions reduction.

So, I had some discussions about this issue when I met with Valdis Dombrovskis, the EU Trade Commissioner, a few months ago. I'm sure we'll have further discussions around this but ultimately that is a separate issue to the EU Free Trade Agreement. That is something that the EU is looking to put in place which would be relevant to all countries which trade with the European Union, unless they ultimately adopt the EU emissions trading scheme and so this, obviously, has some implications with regards to WTO obligations, but as I have said, and as we have made very clear — we just think there's a much better way for us to go about reducing emissions and that's by all of us working together to exchange the relevant technology and to make sure that the free exchange of the relevant goods and services that will lead to emissions reduction can take place globally.

Laura Tingle: The next question is from Jade Gailberger.

Jade Gailberger: Jade Gailberger from the Herald Sun, thanks for your address. You talked today about international travel resuming by the end of this year. Will Australians be able to travel to any country in the world or will it only be to green zone countries? And in terms of allowing international passengers back into the country who are non-residents for tourism purposes, will Australia have any vaccination requirements for them? And when do you expect they will also return?

Dan Tehan: So, the national plan, when we hit that 80 per cent national vaccination rate, an individual state hits that 80 per cent rate, means that outbound travel will resume. So, people will be able to freely travel outside of Australia with no restrictions or no limitations. So that outbound travel will open up. Obviously, it will be dependent on the requirements that are put in place of the countries that they are travelling with, but outbound travel opens up. One of the things that we're also looking to progress is travel bubbles similar to the arrangements that we have with New Zealand. So that means if Australians are heading to specific countries that we have travel bubble arrangements in place that will mean that there will be not the restrictions on 14-day quarantine that otherwise would be the case for people to return to Australia. Now, exactly what those quarantine arrangements would look like will depend on, ultimately, on the negotiations with the travel bubble of the particular country. With New Zealand, when it was up and running, there was no quarantine requirements at all and, ultimately, that's what we would like to achieve. But there might be some testing requirements that are in place.

Another key thing which is taking place at the moment is, obviously, the home quarantine trial that's occurring in South Australia. So, one of the hopes that we have is in the - especially in the lead-up to Christmas, we'll be able to see states and territories putting in place home quarantine arrangements for travelling — returning Australians — and they would be able to quarantine at home. But, ultimately, we still got a little bit of work to do on that, but that's basically the plan that we're looking at as we head to that 80 per cent national vaccination rate. It, ultimately, will depend a little bit on the various countries that a person is travelling to and ultimately also on the arrangements here, especially those that we can put in place with states and territories, but I think very much what you're seeing more and more from those countries that are heading towards an 80 per cent vaccination rate is looking to reduce quarantine arrangements for fully-vaccinated returning Australians and to look at home quarantine options and I think shorter home quarantine arrangements.

Laura Tingle: The next question is from Tom Connell.

Tom Connell: Tom Connell from Sky News, Minister. I know you said before you understood France's disappointment when it comes to the submarine contract. But they have gone a lot further than that. They even mentioned the word treason. Have you been surprised at the strength of the French reaction?

Dan Tehan: Look, I can understand their disappointment. This was a major contract and, you know, if you put the boot on the other foot I think Australia would be similarly disappointed, but ,ultimately, in the end, I think what's going to be really important is that ability for us to be able to sit down and work through this issue and make sure that it's very much understood that, ultimately, what Australia was doing was taking a decision that's very much in our national interest. And that's what any country, ultimately, has to do. Now, this was a very tough decision that the Government had to take but, ultimately, in the end, when it comes to making sure that you’re protecting your citizens and nation, you have to take tough decisions and that's why the Government has taken this and I think, over time, my hope is that France will come to realise and understand why, ultimately, we have taken that decision.

But I can understand their disappointment, but when it comes to keeping your citizens safe you do have to do the tough things. Ultimately, in the end, when you look at how we have dealt with Covid-19, one of the very tough decisions we had to date was close the international border. Now, that wasn't an easy decision for the Government to take, for the Cabinet to take, but we had to do it to keep our nations safe and, you know, the Government has always been very clear that, ultimately, in the end, if we have to take a tough decision, it is all about protecting Australians and making sure we're protecting Australians for the future, we will do so.

Laura Tingle: If I could just ask a question on a more practical level about treason and selling out and things like this: Kath Sullivan, our national rural reporter at the ABC, says that you have signed off on the geographic indicators you're prepared to trade with the EU. Have you sold out Australian feta and prosecco producers in order to take the free trade deal? And will they be selling salty white cheese or can you guarantee feta and prosecco will be produced in Australia?

Dan Tehan: Thanks, Kath, for that question. She's obviously taken a very detailed interest in the negotiations which is great to see because it is important for our farmers and, in particular, our dairy farmers when it comes to GIs and for our wine growers. And here in Western Victoria, beautiful Western Victoria, where I'm coming to you from today, we produce more dairy produce than anywhere else in the Australia and also produce some very good wine.

These are obviously key things that we are mindful of. We have put a proposal to the EU. Now, that proposal is on its way to the EU, we haven't sat down with them and discussed that with them yet so I’m not going to go into the details of it, but what we have done, and done very comprehensively, is have had detailed discussions with the dairy industry, with the wine industry, and with other areas that could be impacted by GIs to make sure that what we're offering are very much accords to still making sure that for key areas, and key parts of our agricultural sector, that trade won't be impinged by an agreement with the EU.

Laura Tingle: Next question is from Tim Shaw.

Tim Shaw: Thanks, Laura. Minister, Tim Shaw, a director at the National Press Club. As Tourism Minister, how do you explain to the world, encouraging them to visit our great nation, when they see the protests in the streets of Melbourne yesterday, they see the discord between the states. The tourism industry in Australia is absolutely on its knees. What steps are you going to take with your state counterparts to be able to present a united front about the importance of visiting Australia? You once said as chief of staff to the Tourism Minister, Fran Bailey, ‘where the bloody hell are you?’ well the tourism industry of Australia are saying, ‘what the bloody hell are you going to do?’

Dan Tehan: The first thing we got to do is make sure that when the time comes and when we get to that 80 per cent national vaccination rate that we send that message to the rest of the world that we're open and we once again welcome back international tourists, and that we're still the best place in the world to visit, and I have got no doubt about that.

I just look at my wonderful electorate, the Grampians behind me, the 12 Apostles, Budj Bim - which has the oldest architectural indigenous site in the world, these are just, you know, in my electorate some of the most wonderful tourism opportunities that are there. In all my travels and meeting with the tourism industry overseas, everything that I have heard is that people cannot wait to get back to Australia and cannot wait to visit Australia again and I think that should be reassuring for our tourism industry at this time. And it is going to mean that Australia is, as a nation, is going to have to work together on this and we're doing that with the Queensland state government in terms of how we're supporting their tourism industry at the moment. And we're looking at further ways that we can do that. We're working, obviously, to help and support the tourism industry in other ways. We'll continue to do that until we can really kick-start our tourism industry both domestically and internationally and my key message to everyone is that the quicker we can do that the better. And the quicker we can do that is by everyone rolling up their sleeves and getting vaccinated.

And Tourism Australia has had a social media effort to try to encourage people to get vaccinated, but also what they're doing internationally is making sure that those key markets that we get our international tourists from that they know and understand that we're going to be ready to go when our borders open up and they're doing a lot of preparatory work in that regard. So, it is incredibly difficult and hard for our tourism industry at the moment — the 660,000 people who work in our tourism industry — but there is light at the end of the tunnel and that national plan is so important in providing that light and if I could make one appeal to all the state and territory leaders around the country it's - please stick to that national plan because our tourism industry is dependent on it.

They see it as our way out of the pandemic. That's how we have learned to live with the virus and that's how we can get our tourism industry back on its feet.

Laura Tingle: The next question is from Andrew Brown.

Andrew Brown: Andrew Brown from AAP. You said before, Minister, that any country must act in its own national interest. So by extension, if the French decided to walk away from the negotiating table for the free trade agreement or requested negative things for Australia for that agreement, would you accept that the French would be working in their own national interest?

Dan Tehan: Well, ultimately, all countries do act in their national interests and one of the things why I believe free trade agreements are so important and it's why I outlined it in the speech is that they're actually a way of us working together as economic partners to help and lift the economic interests in both countries and so, in relation to the EU FTA, what it would do is enable us to benefit consumers and businesses in the EU as well as consumers and businesses here in Australia but not only that, I think, this is incredibly important, the economic weight of the globe has shifted to the Indo-Pacific. This is where the most economic activity globally is taking place.

And what the EU-Australia FTA does for Europe is to enable them to get that very important foothold into the Indo-Pacific. As I said in my speech, a clear message — I have got to say I was almost a little taken aback when I went to Europe earlier in the year — of that clear message that I got when I was in Germany and Belgium and in France was that statement that if the European Union can't do a free trade agreement with Australia, who in the Indo-Pacific could they do one with?

So, I very much think it's in their national interest, it's in our national interest, that we can conclude this agreement. Now, that doesn't mean it's not going to be hard fought. There are very difficult issues — agricultural market access is just one of them, but we'll continue to put the case that it's an agreement that would work for both the EU and Australia and ultimately my hope is that when countries of the EU look at the hard reality of their national interest, they will see that it's important for them to conclude a deal with Australia and that's the case I'll continue to put to them.

Laura Tingle: We're basically out of time, Minister. But if I could just finally ask you as a Victorian Minister, what's your reaction been to the protests taking place in Melbourne today? And what, in your view, has sparked these rallies and who is to blame?

Dan Tehan: Well, they're very disturbing, Laura, and I think violence has no part in Australia at any time. Now, I don't want to get into any sort of blame game. We're in a Covid-19 pandemic. I think what all of us have to do is condemn what has taken place, to make sure that we do everything we can to stop the violence. As Tim demonstrated in his question, this is not something — this is not vision that we want to be sending out to the rest of the world. So I think all of us, all levels of government, need to work together to put a stop to it and make sure that we all work cooperatively to get ourselves out of this pandemic.

We have a national plan and that national plan is driven by us getting to those vaccination rates that we need to. It is so important that we have got every state and territory signed up to that national plan, it's our way out of the pandemic, it's our way of lockdowns. It will enable us to freely travel. That's what we need to focus on. I know, me, or myself, like any other Australian, just can't wait to be able to freely move around our country, to be able to visit family and friends freely especially in the lead-up to Christmas and that's, I think, what we all need to be focused on and working together towards.

Laura Tingle: Well, thanks once again for your address today. We'll be sending you a Press Club membership card which we believe you can use at the Press Club in Paris when you're there.

Dan Tehan: Thanks, Laura. It’s been a pleasure to be with you today.

Media enquiries