Business Lunch: Australia-Japan Ministerial Economic Dialogue
I acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we meet today - the people of the Kulin nation - and pay my respects to their Elders, past and present.
It is a pleasure to be here in Melbourne with my colleague, the Minister for Resources and Northern Australia, Matt Canavan, the Victorian Treasurer, Tim Pallas, and all of you to welcome Minister Kajiyama to Australia.
I want to offer my condolences to the families and communities impacted by the bushfires, including those here in Victoria.
We are with them as they look to recover and rebuild – and Japanese visitors will play an important part in that.
I thank Japan, the many business leaders, businesses and Japanese community leaders for their messages of support at this difficult time.
I know that Prime Minister Morrison appreciated the messages of support from his counterpart, Prime Minister Abe, as well as the understanding shown by Japan of the need to postpone this month’s planned Prime Ministerial visit to Japan.
The Special Strategic Partnership between Australia and Japan has never been stronger.
We share common values and deep people-to-people links.
And long-standing trade and investment links, that form the foundation of our bilateral relationship.
In just five days, we will celebrate the fifth anniversary of the Japan Australia Economic Partnership Agreement (JAEPA), the free trade agreement that exists between our two nations.
JAEPA has supported the rise in our two-way trade of some 26 per cent since the agreement started, to a record $88.5 billion in 2018-19.
The attendance of business partners here today is such a strong barometer of the strength of the commercial ties and relationship between Australia and Japan; a multi-faceted relationship.
At its core, a relationship built on trust.
This trust allows our two nations to break new ground in commercial innovation and cooperation.
Recent highlights in our commercial relationship include: the Mitsubishi UFJ deal with Colonial First State Global, the Nippon Paint – Dulux deal, and bids and acquisitions between Asahi and Carlton United Breweries, along with TAL Dai-chi and Suncorp Life and Superannuation.
These investment and commercial partnerships build on substantial and wide-ranging gains in recent years, across agriculture, energy and resources, notably INPEX, as well as in international education and tourism.
Today, Matt and I, with our hard-working officials, have worked with Minister Kajiyama and his official delegation, holding a successful Ministerial Economic Dialogue, which helps provide the strategic structure to our economic and trade relationship.
Through this important dialogue, we are strengthening our cooperation to ensure an open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region.
In particular, we spoke on the need to strengthen the economic architecture that underpins regional prosperity.
Japan and Australia continue to work together to implement and expand the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).
We are committed to concluding a Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP) as well, a landmark agreement for trade architecture in our region.
Both Australia and Japan continue to hold the door wide open for India to participate in RCEP. We are committed to working with India and other RCEP parties to address outstanding issues, hopefully enabling India to join all 15 other nations as signatories to the agreement in 2020.
We reiterated today our common resolve for a strong and credible rules-based multilateral trading system—with the World Trade Organization (WTO) at its core.
These rules make for open and fair trade which is crucial to regional and global prosperity.
A functioning WTO dispute settlement system enables business to conduct international trade and investment with confidence.
That’s why we underlined our commitment to seeking a multilateral resolution to the WTO Appellate Body impasse, while considering interim arrangements to ensure the enforceability of trade rules while the Appellate Body is unable to function.
We also discussed the digital transformation of our economies, resolving to keep leading on trade rules that support a predictable online environment, which promotes cross-border data flows while protecting privacy and protecting critical technologies from illicit or malicious use.
We discussed the importance of promoting infrastructure investment in the Indo-Pacific that aligns with international standards, including the G20 Quality Infrastructure Investment Principles, led and championed by Japan.
As always, energy features prominently in any discussion between our countries, and today was no different, with Matt leading discussions on energy and resources matters.
Australian energy exports currently support the generation of some eight hours of power a day in Japan. And we are determined to continue as a reliable supplier of energy and resources well into the future.
As global citizens committed to playing our role in responding to climate change, we are also working collaboratively to lead the delivery of lower emissions pathways for the world through the development of new energy options like hydrogen.
The ground-breaking Hydrogen Energy Supply Chain project that Victorian Treasurer Pallas spoke of before, is part of an effort to build an international energy supply chain from the ground up, and it is proof of what we can achieve together.
I congratulate KHI for recently launching the world’s first vessel that will take liquid hydrogen to Japan from Australia.
The joint statement on Cooperation on Hydrogen and Fuel Cells, signed moments ago by Kajiyama-san and Matt, demonstrates our progress and the scope for even closer ties.
And later this afternoon we will be visiting Monash University, where in collaboration with Woodside Energy, cutting edge research is being conducted into hydrogen and carbon abatement technologies.
Through our talks, we also recognised the vital importance of rare earths and critical minerals, and opportunities for cooperation on stronger regional supply chains.
We also today revised the MoU between Austrade and JETRO which will further facilitate our support for businesses in key areas.
These include hydrogen, agribusiness, infrastructure and innovation to name a few.
As you can see, there was much substance to our discussions today. The Australia-Japan relationship is also a personal relationship and a relationship of people-to-people links and ties.
For example, I note and congratulate the Yokohama F. Marinos - the newly crowned J-League champions, coached by Australian Ange Postecoglou.
And I understand Naomi Osaka, winner of last year’s Australian Open - at the tennis centre we can see just through those windows over there - has advanced to the Brisbane International quarter finals.
We trust that Australian athletes will enjoy a similar success in the international arena as Tokyo prepares to host the Olympic Games in July this year.
So thank you very much for such a strong partnership that exists right around this room and of course the length and breadth of our two wonderful nations. Domo arigato gozaimasu.