Monday, 14 July 2014
Questions without Notice
Trade with Japan
I am conscious of the fact that Rockhampton, which the member represents, is the beef capital of Australia and beef will certainly be one of the biggest beneficiaries from the free-trade agreement we have signed with Japan. Last week Prime Minister Abe and I did, in fact, sign the Economic Partnership Agreement that the member refers to. For 40 years Japan was Australia's biggest trading partner. It is still, by a wide margin, our second-biggest trading partner, and two-way trade between Australia and Japan is worth $70 billion every single year, and Japan is also our third-biggest inbound investor. Japan has been central to Australia's post-war prosperity. Our iron ore, our coal and, more recently, our gas industries would not have happened but for Japanese buyers and investors; in a very real sense, our post-war prosperity has been made in Japan.
This free-trade agreement we have just signed with Japan is good news for businesses and for consumers because freer trade means more jobs and lower prices. It is, in fact, the first comprehensive free-trade agreement that Japan has signed with a major developed economy and, under it, 97 per cent of Australia's exports to Japan will enter duty-free or at a preferential rate when the agreement is fully enforced. Beef, cheese, horticulture and wine will particularly benefit. Beef tariffs will almost halve, with a big drop immediately. That is why the red meat council thinks that our beef exports to Japan will increase by some seven per cent a year under this agreement.
The BCA said:
“The Australian Government has been focused and pragmatic in concluding the highest-quality bilateral trade agreement Japan has ever signed.
“This agreement will give Australian exporters better access to the $5 trillion Japanese market than Japan has provided under any other of its trade agreements.”
Mr Fitzgibbon interjecting —
Obviously, I thank the trade minister, Andrew Robb, for his tireless work to bring this about. This is a government which seeks to deliver on its commitments. We said before the last election that within 12 months we wanted to finalise free-trade agreements with Korea, with Japan and with China. Two of those agreements have, indeed, been finalised and we have high hopes of a third, thanks again to the good work of Minister Robb.