PAFTA press conference

  • Transcript, E&OE
Subjects: PAFTA, Barnaby Joyce.
12 February 2018

JOURNALIST: People who will benefit from this, is industry, agriculture? Or is it vast?

STEVEN CIOBO: The great thing about these trade deals is that both countries are winners. We see benefits that flow through to all aspects of the Australian economy. Those who are exporting, of course, get access to a new market, those who are importing, generally, see cheaper import costs. This is particularly of course, also going to benefit those that are involved in manufacturing, those that are involved in agriculture. They are all the beneficiaries. We also have a strong focus on services. Australia has some outstanding examples of services. Take for example, some of the [inaudible] we now talk about. Australia has expertise around in particular, mining services and extracting services. Peru has areas of interest in this, where we can through collaboration between Australian services providers and Peruvian interests, be able to multiply the benefits both for us and Peru, in these kinds of areas.

JOURNALIST: Minister, what's the next step in the process before the benefits of this agreement starts coming to Australia?

STEVEN CIOBO: So we well now have this agreement go before the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties. The Joint Standing Committee on Treaties will undertake a public inquiry process and then make a report back to the Parliament and then, depending on, obviously, the recommendation from that Parliamentary Committee, we'll look to introduce legislation required and there will be some changes around tariffs, for example. And then we'll go back to formalising the agreement ---Executive Council. Can I just make a remark in relation to not only the Peru-Australia Free Trade Agreement, but trade agreements more broadly, I from time to time hear this completely false allegation made that these trade deals are done in secret. Well, we're about to go through the process that highlights that that is complete rubbish. The fact is, we now have a public inquiry, Unions can make suggestions, members of the public can make submissions, academics can make submissions, NGO's can make submissions, the commercial sector can make submissions, they all provide the commentary on these trade deals. So, what is happening now is that we'll go through that very public process, people can make their comments and the Committee will make the report.

JOURNALIST: How do you compare the benefits of this free trade agreement with those of the TPP-11?

STEVEN CIOBO: Well, these are all agreements that'll take Australia forward by opening up additional market opportunities for Australia. We live in a world that is more inter-connected than ever before, increasingly there is opportunity through this Government's trade agenda and investment agenda to open up more markets for Australian producers to continue to have beneficial impacts for consumers and lower business input costs. That's all good news for the Australian economy. We saw last calendar year, more than half our country's GDP growth was driven by export growth. As a Government, we are absolutely committed to more trade and investment because more trade and investment means more jobs. That's why we are pursuing this and the TPP-11, $13.7 trillion in economic activity represents incredible opportunity for Australia, that's why the Prime Minister and I were so committed to making sure that we did that TPP-11 agreement, and of course, it's now only a matter of weeks until we sign that agreement.

JOURNALIST: Minister, this is a very important agreement but what's the – in Parliament on Barnaby Joyce though, can he remain Deputy Prime Minister?

STEVEN CIOBO: Oh, look, I'm here to talk about what's happening with respect to this trade agenda. I'm not going to buy into discussion about what's happening around the Deputy Prime Minister, every man and his dog has an opinion about that and I'm not going to add fuel to the fire.

JOURNALIST: This does relate, I guess, to trade, Kevin Rudd make remarks regarding Malcolm Turnbull's hailing about Australia's relationship with China. Do you think his assessment was accurate, that the response has been incoherent and inconsistent?

STEVEN CIOBO: Well, as a Government we've been able to put in place the more comprehensive and forward-leaning trade and investment agenda with China, that we've seen. China is an incredibly important trade and investment partner for Australia. We work very closely with Chinese authorities and the Chinese government. I couldn't commend more the responsiveness of the Chinese Government most recently on the issue around beef and the export of beef from Australia to China. Because of the excellent work of the Australian Government, together with the great work of the Chinese Government, we were able to resolve that issue in a matter of months. No other country has done it in that amount of time. So let me be unequivocal, the Australian Government recognises, not only the importance of China as a market for Australia, but I also want to acknowledge that irrespective of the fact that from time to time we have trade irritants, the Chinese Government and the Australian Government have a broad, deep and excellent relationship. A relationship that lay at the very core of why we were able to do such a high-quality China-Australia Free Trade Agreement and why we were able to resolve issues like that around the export of Australian beef in a record amount of time.

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