Sky News, PM Agenda

  • Transcript, E&OE
Subjects: US Presidential Election
09 November 2016

DAVID SPEERS: There are potentially enormoustrade implications as well, from the election of Donald Trump and the prospectof a Trump administration, or the reality now of a Trump Administration. Ifindeed Donald Trump does as America's 45th President, the things that he hassaid he will do, the things that he has promised he will do. In particular whenyou look at where he's won, as we keep saying that mid-Northwest. Places likeWisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, these are the big surprising wins and theseare the Rust Belt states where manufacturing workers - the white working classmen you hear so much about, are clearly upset about globalisation, are clearlyupset about free trade and this message of Trump's, about tearing about tradeagreements, erecting new tariff barriers, a new protectionist era hasresonated. With me now is the Trade Minister, Australia's Trade Minister, SteveCiobo, thank you very much for your time tonight. When you look at all thatDonald Trump has said in the lead up to this, and now the fact that he's going tobe President, is there anything positive to look for in terms of the globaltrade outlook?

STEVEN CIOBO: Well there is David, if youactually have a close look at what it is that President-elect Trump has saidand the platform upon which he took to the campaign. What he made clear wasthat he wasn't abandoning free trade at all, what he said was that he wantedtrade deals that worked in America's national interest, that promoted Americanjobs, that improved American wages, and reduced America's trade deficit. Now, Ican say that Australia pursues, obviously, those same outcomes in an Australiancontext. That is, we want trade deals that are good for Australian workers, youwant trade deals that are good for improving Australia's budget position. Wewant trade deals that are good for growing the Australian economy. So youknow I think it's sometimes veryimportant to cut through how certain comments are spun, in other words, howthey might be reported, versus what it is that in this particular case, President-electTrump has actually said.

DAVID SPEERS: I don't think there's any spinningthough, or any doubt that Donald Trump wants to tear up NAFTA and certainlywants to tear about the Trans-Pacific Partnership which you're pursuing aswell. Let me go to the TPP, is that now dead in the water?

STEVEN CIOBO: Well David, you'd have to say aftertoday's outcome, it's certainly less likely than likely. Obviously there is alame duck session that continues and we'll have to wait and see what transpiresin that lame duck session. But I'd certainly hold the view that it would appearin a U.S. domestic context that it's less likely than likely, absolutely.

DAVID SPEERS: I know we've spoken about this inthe past before about selling the benefits of trade, and that really is the jobof you in Australia as the Trade Minister. But again, we've seen here arejection of the free trade argument. And do you fear that it's growing inAustralia as well, are we losing, are you losing this argument about why freetrade is a good thing?

STEVEN CIOBO: Well David I think we've hadtremendous opportunity to have a look at the way in which the three free tradeagreements that Australia recently completed with China, with South Korea, andJapan have impacted on Australia. Australians can see for themselves theresults of these three free trade agreements. What they'll see if they look atthe results of these agreements is that these agreements are driving a surge ofexports from Australia. A surge of exports that's creating job opportunities inAustralia, that's helping to reduce unemployment in this country, that is inmany respects underpinned economic growth in this country. That is a differentset of circumstances to the circumstances that the United States findsthemselves in and certainly the circumstances as portrayed by President-electTrump, and no doubt responded to by those people who took the decision to votefor President Trump, especially through the mid-west as you said. Now, the factis that free trade is serving Australia very well. We have had 25 years ofcontinuous economic growth. That's not to say that everything is rosy, but onany objective measure, our economy is doing relatively well. We've gotunemployment trending down, we've got stronger economic growth, and that is aconsequence, not completely but in large part, due to the very favourableexport conditions that are driving record Australian exports internationally.

DAVID SPEERS: Let me ask you a couple of specificthings that Donald Trump has said repeatedly through this campaign. He wants toname China a currency manipulator; would you like to see that happen?

STEVEN CIOBO: Well I'm not sure, at this earlystage, precisely what that will mean. We'll need to wait and see what thePresident-elect Trump's new administration ultimately would seek to do there.There are a number of countries around the world that of course peg theircurrencies against the U.S. Dollar. There is a certain amount of uncertaintyabout exactly how policies will be implemented and carried out. So we're justgoing to have to wait and see to actually determine what that looks like,David.

DAVID SPEERS: Is there a danger though, a riskthat naming China a currency manipulator is going to spark a trade war betweenthe two biggest economies?

STEVEN CIOBO: Well I'm not going to pretend thatthere's not a risk - that we might see some challenges with some respect tointernational trade environment. This is precisely the reason why the worldneeds to pull together to drive economic growth, which is achieved, of course,through trade agreements. Make no mistake David, President-elect Trump hasindicated that he is still highly desirous of achieving trade outcomes. Hewants to drive trade for America. What he has said is that he wants to makesure he does it in a way that benefits America. It's a case of watching howthose policies will be implemented. Australia is of course is a long-timefriend, ally, trade partner with the United States. We've got theAustralia-U.S. Free Trade Agreement. I'm pretty confident that that's a dealthat produces a great win-win outcome for Australia and the United States.

DAVID SPEERS: Donald Trump has also said his administrationwill impose a penalty of 35 per cent, and I think he's talking about a 35 percent tariff on any American [company] that sends jobs offshore. For an Americancompany, you can pick out a tech company, a manufacturing company, whatever,that we're trying to attract to Australia. What will this mean? Will this meana pretty big disincentive to set-up shop over in Australia?

STEVEN CIOBO: Again, we'll need to see preciselywhat that is implemented like and where the Congress ends up going on these typesof matters. We know that there's certain aspirations and visions and statementsthat President-elect Trump has made. What's said and ultimately what'simplemented are two sometimes different things. We need to see the detail on alot of this. It's too early to say. But look, the fundamental fact is this,David. Australia will continue to prosper through trade.

DAVID SPEERS: It sounds like a lot of blank spaceto be filled in here as far as you're concerned on all of these things.

STEVEN CIOBO: Look, there are. I'm not going topretend otherwise. There's a number of important and key and fundamental policyaspects where all we have is a statement or a sentence or two. We need to seehow that's fleshed out over the coming months.

DAVID SPEERS: Let me ask you on the politics ofwhat's happened here. This is extraordinary, as we keep saying, in Americanpolitical history and globally as well. How do you characterise what's happenedhere, this turn out of Trump supporters right across the country, that thepolls got wrong, the media got wrong, so many pundits got wrong. What do youthink's gone on?

STEVEN CIOBO: We've seen this now, globally, inquite of a number of occasions, David, where the results haven't accorded withthe polls. I think that people are very savvy to political polls these days. Ithink they're very savvy to what the implications of their answers are.Frankly, I think that people don't necessarily want to disclose, actually whatthey're going to do and will just give a response based upon any particularissue that they might have on that day rather than an actual reflection ofvoting intent. We've just got to wait and see how that plays out. Ultimatelywhat I think's happened in the United States, I think there's a strong desire,clearly evident from the people in the U.S. for America to have shine back andclearly there's a view that America's lost some of its lustre and I think thatDonald Trump has successfully appealed to that. I obviously want to work veryclosely as a member of the Coalition Government here in Australia, as arepresentative of Australia, with the incoming Trump Administration to makesure that we can secure great outcomes for Australia, great outcomes for theUnited States. The fact is that we have worked alongside each other for manyyears. We've been strong economic friends, strong defence friends, and ofcourse we've got incredibly strong people-to-people links, we share values.Ultimately, I think this will mean that Australia is very well placed withrespect to the United States and I'm very confident that we'll be able toproduce an outcome that's going to be great for the U.S. and great forAustralia.

DAVIDSPEERS: Trade Minister Steve Ciobo, I appreciate youjoining us tonight with your immediate reaction on this amazing story.

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