Tuesday, 23 March 2021
Questions without Notice
My question is for the Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment. Will the minister please update the House on how the Morrison government is working to open up new trade opportunities for Australian businesses to create more jobs for more Australians?
I thank the member for Boothby for her question and for her advocacy for trade liberalisation. I know she believes how important it is, especially for regional Australia, that we continue to pursue open markets for our regional and rural exporters.
Last night there was a meeting of the Ottawa Group, which is a small group of ministers who are committed to seeing World Trade Organization reform take place. We met with the new Director-General of the World Trade Organization. In only three weeks she has shown passion and commitment to making sure we drive World Trade Organization reform to make sure that the independent umpire is playing its role and is going to be key for driving further market liberalisation. All countries on that call were absolutely committed to giving the World Trade Organization back its pre-eminence and making sure it is a driver for good when it comes to market liberalisation. Under her stewardship, I'm absolutely confident that we are going to be able to see reform of the Appellate Body and important work done on things like fisheries subsidies, on agricultural subsidies and on access to health products. They're very important things that the global economy needs right at the moment.
At the multilateral level, we are engaging and we are doing what we can to make sure we're going to get meaningful outcomes for our exporters. We're also pursuing huge opportunities bilaterally, both with the European Union and the United Kingdom. Our negotiators, when it comes to the United Kingdom free trade agreement, have just finalised the fourth round of negotiations. Good progress is being made on that free trade agreement. As all of us know, given what has happened historically, 50 years ago, to be able to bring our two economies back together in a way that we haven't seen for half a century would be fantastic not only for the Australian economy but also for the UK economy. I'm looking forward to continuing those negotiations.
The tenth round of negotiations have also just concluded with the European Union. Once again, substantial progress was made. As a matter of fact, our chief negotiator Alison Burrows said to me that more progress was made in the tenth round than has been in the previous nine, so that's a really positive sign. This will open up 515 million consumers for Australian exporters. They're two incredibly important markets for us and they're two which will help our export growth and importantly drive jobs growth in this nation. (Time expired)