Senate debates

Wednesday, 11 September 2019

Questions without Notice


2:56 pm

Photo of Simon BirminghamSimon Birmingham (SA, Liberal Party, Minister for Trade) Share this | Hansard source

I thank Senator Fawcett for his question and, as chair of the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade, for his very strong interest and advocacy in relation to trade, business, export growth and, of course, across the Foreign Affairs and Defence portfolios.

In relation to Australia's negotiations with the European Union, we seek an ambitious and comprehensive free trade agreement. We do so because the EU offers a potential market of more than half a billion customers to Australian businesses. Despite very significant trade restrictions that those Australian businesses already face, the EU is our second-largest trading partner and a significant export partner already. So the scope for growth is real if we can manage to see removal and reduction of tariffs and an increase or elimination of quota volumes.

What is really important is to make sure we get a great deal for our farmers and businesses, and the coalition government are committed to do that, as we have in all of our other trade negotiations. Industry knows this. We have been pleased with the reaction from industry as we have worked through this. The Australia-EU Red Meat Market Access Taskforce has described this FTA as a 'once-in-a-lifetime opportunity'. The Business Council of Australia has identified opportunities for farmers and businesses in relation to government procurement markets.

Trade sustains one in five Australian jobs, and the opportunity that we seek to realise is to keep those jobs and to grow further employment opportunities in the future. Businesses such as Almondco, in our state of South Australia, Senator Fawcett, or Premium Fresh in Tasmania, or Macadamias Direct, in subtropical northern New South Wales are the types of businesses who have identified that they can gain by growing market access into the European Union. They would have the ability to export more goods and, in exporting more goods, ensure an increase in revenue into Australia, create more jobs, sustain more jobs, pay more taxes and create the opportunities that will make Australia stronger into the future.


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