Quest - Richard Quest Interview

  • Transcript, E&OE
North Korea, TPP, US-China relations, international trade
27 April 2018

RICHARD QUEST: The Australian Trade Minister joinsme now. The North Korea-South Korea talks taking place in the next 24 hours, coupledwith Donald Trump's potential meeting in the future, which the Administrationsays is almost likely to happen, how is Australia viewing this? Obviously,positive but with reservations?

STEVEN CIOBO: Look, it is positive but this isthe first time in a decade or so that we've had both leaders sit down so it isa tremendous step forward but it is, you know, we have seen this before. Not tobe cynical about it but clearly there's a large number of steps that need to befulfilled in order for the rest of the world to have confidence.

RICHARD QUEST: And it's by no means clear that theannouncement that Kim made of closing down the nuclear testing facility – nomore testing – that is not the same as denuclearization, and that word wasnotably absent.

STEVEN CIOBO: I mean, this is from Australia'sperspective, we want to, like, indeed, the rest of the world, want to seedenuclearization of the Korean Peninsula but it's got to be verifiable. We'vegot to know for certain that this is happening and that's going to be,ultimately, where the rubber hits the road.



RICHARD QUEST: I mean, whatever it's now called,you get what I'm talking about. I heard your press statements after the US saidit was interested, and then said you got the Tweets that it wasn't.


RICHARD QUEST: What is your understanding of whatAmerica wants with TPP, never mind whether it can get it?

STEVEN CIOBO: Sure. Well my understanding is thatthe President is open to coming back to the TPP if he can renegotiate a betterdeal. So that's what he's made clear in terms of his Tweets and publiccomments. I mean, and indeed, he said as much as Davos as well, earlier thisyear. But, ultimately, for the eleven of us that have done this deal, I mean wehave this deal in the bag, what we're now doing is making sure we can bring itinto effect as soon as possible. We can't throw all this open again to have theUnited States renegotiate big slabs of text.

RICHARD QUEST: You can't and you won't. But thenwhat is the wiggle room? Come on, what is the political fudge that would allow,the fig leaf that would allow US to slide in again, if it's possible?


RICHARD QUEST: Maybe it's not possible.

STEVEN CIOBO: Richard, I can say absolutely, thatall of us want the US to come back to the table. I mean, all eleven countriesare all committed. In fact, if you even look at how we structured this deal, ifI can sue the phrase, 'we've left the sugar on the table' to try to entice theUS to come back to this deal because we recognize not only the trade benefitsbut the strategic benefits as well across the region. But, ultimately, we havenow negotiated for more than twelve months, we've got the deal back in the bag,we're well placed to make sure that all of us can take this forward and bebeneficiaries from it. You know, what's it gonna take? What's the political figleaf? I'm not sure there is one. I mean because we can't reopen vast tracks ofmarket access text, and services text and all the investment texts to be ableto accommodate the US.

RICHARD QUEST: But it was always intended that TPPwould be available for other countries to join. That was always a-


RICHARD QUEST: Now, unless it's going to be an EUarrangement, where you sign up to the Chapters but you have to take what's alreadythere-


RICHARD QUEST: - then there needs to be somefacility for adapting for new potential entrants.

STEVEN CIOBO: Absolutely, that's the case and weknow there's a high level of interest from a number of countries that have alreadyspoken publicly about their interests in possibly joining the TPP. As we speaknow, we're having discussions at an officials' level about what we can do tohave accession by other countries to the TPP. But ultimately the framework ofthe TPP is there. So, yes, we'll have negotiations around market access butthat will be within the existing framework of the TPP-11.

RICHARD QUEST: When we look at China, which ofcourse Australia's relationship with China is always a fascinating one in termsof trade.


RICHARD QUEST: You're not just China's commoditiesdeliverance point, but at the same time, the trade dispute with the US. Look,on this program in the last few weeks, at the IMF last week, we've had numerousMinisters say they are worried about deterioration in world trade. You must beas well.

STEVEN CIOBO: Sure. Of course. I don't want tosee a situation arise where we actually see very significant action andreaction, whether it's the United States, China, the European Union, Canada,Mexico. I mean there are a host of scenarios that would play out. Now that'snot in anyone's interests, let's be very clear. Policy orthodoxy over that last50 years shows us that more trade leads to more prosperity, and more employment.That is the benefit, the dividend that flows from greater integration fromtrade and investment. So none of us are interested in having any kind ofretaliatory action breaking out on the trade front.

RICHARD QUEST: Good to see you as always.

STEVEN CIOBO: Richard, pleasure.

Media enquiries