ANZ Chamber of Commerce in Japan event

  • Speech, check against delivery
Tokyo, Japan

It'sstriking to reflect on how quickly world events can change.

Sincemy last visit here public attitudes have become increasingly sceptical aroundthe benefits of free trade in this context, Japan has emerged as a frontlineadvocate for trade liberalisation and Japan and Australia have together led thesuccessful conclusion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, against all odds.

Ourco-operation on the TPP underlines one immutable fact.

Japanis one of Australia's most valued economic and security partners – these arenot words I use lightly.

AndI can assure you notwithstanding the strength of the relationship we do nottake each other for granted.

Myvisit to Tokyo this week marks another big step in the deepening of our ties.

Yesterday,I met with ministerial counterparts from countries seeking to conclude the RegionalComprehensive Economic Partnership or "RCEP" – a proposed free trade area whichbring together the 10 ASEAN economies plus China, India, Japan, Korea as wellas Australia and New Zealand.

Thismorning, I met Minister Seko, the Japanese Minister of Economy, Trade andIndustry.

Thiswas the first of a regular Ministerial Economic Dialogue, designed to ensurethat we have a driving force pushing this relationship forward from the veryhighest levels of both governments.

Wediscussed how Australia and Japan can strengthen our economic partnershipfocusing on strategic economic policy priorities, such as on evolving regionalarchitecture, infrastructure, and the digital economy.

Weconsidered how we can work together to support global trade liberalisation,counter protectionism and address market-distorting measures.

Itis important that we have this discussion now, at a time of significant riskand uncertainty in the international trading system.

Italso builds on the substantial achievements of the Japan-Australia EconomicPartnership Agreement which entered into force three years ago.

ThatAgreement was lauded at the time as the most liberalising bilateral tradeagreement that Japan had ever concluded – it still is, if I'm not mistaken.

TheJAEPA has produced substantial liberalisation to date. And there is ofcourse, more to follow.

Onceit is fully implemented, 98 per cent of Australia's merchandise exports toJapan will be able to receive either preferential access, or enter duty free.

Thatis the kind of measure that will see tangible benefits to Australian business,to Japanese importers and consumers, to the continued deepening of ourlong-standing bilateral economic partnership.

Youdon't need to look far to know that our world today often defies prediction –it has many times in the very recent past, and no doubt, it will again in thefuture.

Thisis what makes it all the more important to value and to nurture the kind ofmutual trust and understanding that we share with Japan.

Ourfriendship is strong and it is special; it is built upon core common values andupon complementary ambitions; and it has proven its worth time and again.

Itwill be many generations who benefit from the fantastic outcome of the TPP-11negotiations – they all told us that we couldn't possibly do it, and together,leading the push forward, Australia and Japan proved them wrong.

Aspartners, we stepped up to take a leadership role in finalising the agreementamong the eleven countries around the table.

Itwas no easy feat, but we did not give up.

Wesaw the TPP as a dynamic framework that would drive more jobs, more commercialopportunity – not just for Australia, but for each and every signatory.

Today,that agreement represents the most significant change in global trading sincethe establishment of the WTO, reaching markets that account for nearly $14trillion of global GDP.

Iam delighted that the Japanese Diet passed legislation to implement the TPP onFriday.

PrimeMinister Turnbull and I are committed to bringing the TPP-11 into force as soonas possible.

Thisis a commitment shared by our respective Japanese counterparts at the highestlevels of government – Prime Minister Abe, Minister Motegi, Minister Seko.

Weexpect, however, that this will not be the end of the story.

AsPrime Minister Turnbull said in Tokyo earlier this year, there is no doubt theeconomic and strategic logic of this agreement is compelling.

Socompelling, in fact, that others will want to be a part of it too.

Weare seeing this already, and as far as I'm concerned, we would be nothing shortof thrilled for this agreement to emerge as an open platform.

Thelogic of the TPP is clear – it has high standards and it is comprehensive.

Weknow that it will bring huge benefits to all who sign up, and will act as apositive force for economic reforms across the region.

That'sthe real value of a strong economic partnership, one that I see as being builtand braided in three threads – the new, the old, and the enduring.

Asever, we start by looking forward to the new.

Thetrade relationship continues to expand year by year – new markets right here inJapan trading in anything from smashed avo to wagyu steak.

ForJapanese investors, Australia offers up possibilities across manynon-traditional sectors – health insurance, renewable energy, medicaltechnology and retail.

Thenew is a renaissance; another generation of young business leaders,entrepreneurs, students keen for these changes and wanting to invest in the bilateralrelationship.

Anothergeneration of Australians enamoured with Japanese culture, with studyexchanges, with music and fashion and language.

Theseare young women and men who are addressing gaps in Australia's understanding ofthe Japanese market, and reversing past under-representation of Australianbusiness in Japan.

Theseare young women and men devoting their time to learn the Japanese language, tostudy at a Japanese university, to work in a Japanese firm – in short, todevelop a kind of intimate understanding that you can only have if you havelived and breathed the culture.

Isee here today members of the Future Leaders' Program, students of the MitsuiEducational Foundation, and young Australian farmers on a visit arranged by theNational Farmers' Federation.

Andduring this my visit this week, I will have the pleasure of being accompaniedby a young business delegation focused on advancing this critical economicrelationship.

Backhome in Australia, there are of course many more such individuals and groups –and with Government support, we see youth alumni networks being strengthened,and young Australians being inspired to see a future in nurturing arelationship with Japan.

Thecountry's popularity is reflected through the Australian Government's flagshipNew Colombo Plan grants, which support young Australians to live, study andwork overseas.

Wehave been overwhelmed by the numbers of young Australians putting their hands upfor Japan – in just five years, the Government has sent an incredible 2,300individuals out to these shores.

Theseare the leaders, the entrepreneurs, the innovators who will drive us forwardinto new opportunities and a deeper partnership.

Then,of course, there is the old.

Theold is the history of who we are, the connection to where we began and theunderstanding of how far we have come.

In1957, the Menzies Government in Australia and the Kishi Government in Japanwelcomed the first Japan-Australia Commerce Agreement.

Lastyear, we celebrated its 60th anniversary, and remembered theincredible foresight and initiative taken by both countries at the time.

Itwas, of course, just 12 years after we had faced each other on opposite sidesof the battlefield.

Together,we signed what I would characterise as the most visionary commerce agreementthat either of our countries had ever seen – back when our economicrelationship was still taking shape.

Ittook political guts and a firm resolve to look ahead to the future rather thanbe held back by the past.

Ofcourse, we can say now that it was absolutely and unequivocally the right call– within a decade, Japan had overtaken the United Kingdom as Australia'slargest export market.

Thisafternoon, I am proud to continue that tradition of strength and of vision andof respect.

Thisafternoon, the Australian Government will officially celebrate the handing overof all Japanese company records seized during the Second World War.

Behindthese records are real stories marking the tradition of Japanese trade andinvestment in Australia.

Theserecords mark the fact that our trading relationship goes back before ourFederation as a nation to the 1890s – in fact, some of the Japanese companiesrepresented in these records are still making important contributions toAustralia's economy today.

Theyalso mark this Government's enduring commitment to post-war reconciliation, andto the values that underpinned Australian economic policies back in 1957.

Finally,we come full circle to the enduring; to the stability that continues to formthe foundations of our partnership.

Japanis the third largest economy in the world, Australia the thirteenth, in aregion that is projected only to grow in terms of its global economic weight.

Whilewe each have our challenges, this is a strong position to be in, and a greatplace to start as complementary partners.

Weboth carry strong voices in our defence of the global trading system, ofliberalisation, of predictable rules to govern trade.

Ourwork together within the construct of the WTO illustrates our efforts tofortify the multilateral trading system – working, for instance, to prepare newnegotiations to open up digital commerce.

Wehave built long-standing ties with each other in terms that are entirelynatural to both of us.

Oneclear cut example of this is the resources and energy relationship.

Itis a well-known fact that Japanese investment has been essential in thedevelopment of many of the export industries that have driven Australia'sgrowth in recent years.

Thisincludes large-scale projects to meet Japanese demand for resources such ascoal, iron ore and liquefied natural gas.

Inthe coming months, the Japanese company Inpex will kick off production at theIchthys LNG plant, off the Western Australian coast.

Thisis a US$34 billion project, and it marks the second largest single foreigndirect investment from any country into Australia after the Gorgon Project.

Addto that some fantastic public-private initiatives breaking new ground in ourbilateral collaboration.

InApril this year, Prime Minister Turnbull launched the Hydrogen Energy SupplyChain Project.

Thisis a world first – a plant envisioned for the Latrobe Valley in Victoria, whichwill turn brown coal into liquefied hydrogen.

Thisis a project that could never have seen the light of day unless Japan andAustralia had the kind of relationship that we do today – strong backing fromboth governments, and a consortium of corporate buy-in led by Kawasaki HeavyIndustries.

We'retalking about a real game changer here.

Foreveryday Australians, this means jobs, it means growth, it means lower taxesand greater resilience to global economic volatility.

Today,we see the relationship exploring new waters – we see the intellectual sharingof future cities, we see the booming of services sectors, we see economictransformation in both our countries so that we can both meet the needs of anew era.

Yet,the underlying stability – the enduring legacy of collaboration – continuesstrong as we work together in response to modern challenges.

Cominghere to Tokyo once again has felt a little like coming back to see an oldfriend – and as I sit down with my Japanese counterparts over the next fewdays, I look forward to seeing out the next steps in this very specialfriendship.

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