Sky News First Edition

  • Transcript, E&OE
Subjects: Australia United States Business Week, TPP.
24 February 2016

KIERAN GILBERT: We're live to New York, and Trade Minister Steve Ciobo joins me. Mr Ciobo, thanks for your time. You've met with your US counterpart during your talks in the United States. Can you give us a sense of their view on the TPP? Will it get through the Congress? Is he optimistic?

STEVEN CIOBO: Well, good morning, Kieran. Look, I did have conversations with Ambassador Froman in relation to what's going on in the United States with respect to the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Look, let's be clear. We think the Trans-Pacific Partnership is very good news for Australia. It's good news for Australian trade. It's very good for investment. It's going to drive jobs and growth. The Obama Administration is clearly very focused upon seeking ratification of the TPP. Ultimately whether it gets through the Congress or not will come down to domestic political considerations in the US. It will be a case of wait and see. It might be before the election, it might be after, but certainly from an Australian perspective to have it put into place will drive jobs and growth.

KIERAN GILBERT: You have said since being appointed Trade Minister that a lot of the opposition to the TPP in the US is being driven by misinformation, including that position taken by Hilary Clinton.

STEVEN CIOBO: Well my concern is, in Australia, that we're seeing a concerted campaign by the Australian trade union movement against the TPP and of course the Labor Party continues to throw fuel on the fire. I'm really disappointed. Trade has traditionally been a bipartisan policy position, and yet Penny Wong, as Shadow Trade Minister, continues to fuel misinformation in relation to the impact of, for example, the Trans-Pacific Partnership. But also matters such as ISDS, which of course are Investor-State Dispute Settlements. This is a feature that has been in trade agreements, Kieran, for something like 30 years. In 30 years we've had one issue come up, and guess what? Australia won on that one occasion it came up. The Labor Party runs around and says they're going to tear up all of our trade agreements, that they want to re-negotiate them all. It's just a really bad approach from Labor, so my criticism is actually directed towards Penny Wong and the Australian Labor Party.

KIERAN GILBERT: But you believe that Hilary Clinton's under similar pressure from the labour arm of the Democratic Party, which is a big supporter of hers?

STEVEN CIOBO: Look, I'm not going to get into that side of things. What I'm focused on as Australia's Trade and Investment Minister is what's going drive jobs in Australia, what's going to drive economic growth in Australia, what's going to help to set up our country as the economy continues to transition away from a heavy reliance on the resources and energy sector into the new services side of the economy.

KIERAN GILBERT: Are they optimistic though?

STEVEN CIOBO: I beg your pardon?

KIERAN GILBERT: You heard whatPresident Obama said; he's cautiously optimistic of getting the deal done. What's Froman telling you? You refer to domestic politics. Will the Presidential race derail this big trade deal?

STEVEN CIOBO: Well, you're asking me to be the commentator on US politics, and I'm not a expert in terms of the Congress. I'm certainly not going to detail all the aspects of what Ambassador Froman and I discussed, but I will say is this. Understandably there are domestic considerations within the United States that will play out in different ways in terms of the position that the Congress adopts, the position of Democrats, the position of the Republicans. What is crystal clear, Kieran though, is that there is from the Administration a desire to keep undertaking the work that's required to ensure that ratification of the Trans-Pacific Partnership can happen. Ideally from an Australian perspective, we would love ratification to happen prior to the election, but maybe it'll be after, who knows.

KIERAN GILBERT: Now, you're there for the Australia US Business Week, 240 business delegation. What's been the focus? Has it all been a tech focus? I know you were in Silicon Valley earlier in the week.

STEVEN CIOBO: This is a great initiative. It's the Australian US Business Week. This is a great opportunity for us to showcase a couple of things. We want to highlight – and there's 240 or so delegates that have come as part of this trade mission – we want to highlight the great innovation skills that Australian businesses have, the tremendous opportunities that Australian businesses have, and we use that in the vein of trying to draw investment into Australia because we know investment's going to be good for jobs and growth. The other thing that we're trying to do, Kieran, is to give Australian companies exposure to the US market. They might seek to expand into the North American market. Seek to be able to export some Aussie products or Aussie intellectual property into the North American market, and who knows, maybe even beyond there to the world. It's a key part of the focus that I've got and the Government has part of our attempts to keep the Australian economy growing strongly.

KIERAN GILBERT: Steve Ciobo, we're out of time. Live from New York there, appreciate it. Talk to you soon.

STEVEN CIOBO: A pleasure.


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