Tuesday, 13 October 2015
Questions without Notice
Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement
I thank Senator Fawcett for that question. The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, alongside our free trade agreements with China, South Korea and Japan, will help Australian exporting businesses be more successful. By helping them be more successful, by helping them to grow their businesses more strongly, it will help them employ more Australians.
The feedback I was getting in Lima at the IMF and the World Bank Annual Meetings this weekend from a number of colleagues from the Asia-Pacific was what an outstanding job our trade minister Andrew Robb had done in helping to achieve a successful landing for the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement. What an outstanding job he has done. Australia is a trading nation. We are an open economy. To maximise our success as a trading nation we need to be as productive as possible, as competitive as possible, as innovative as possible; but we also need to ensure we have the best possible access to all of our key markets overseas.
This historic Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement will deliver enormous benefits to Australia. By establishing a more seamless trade in the investment environment across 12 countries, it will help our exporters get more competitive access to 40 per cent of our world economy. It slashes barriers to Australian exports of goods and services and investment by eliminating 98 per cent of all tariffs across everything—from beef, dairy, wine, sugar, rice, horticultural products and seafood through to manufactured goods, and resources and energy
It is particularly helpful in the high-skill, high-wages services sector. But, importantly, this agreement, with an open architecture, allows— (Time expired)
I thank Senator Fawcett for that supplementary. The open architecture of this Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement will facilitate access by additional member countries to join in the future, which will further amplify its benefits.
Senator Whish-Wilson interjecting—
Senator Whish-Wilson is misleading the Senate. He knows that the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade engaged in over 1,000 TPP stakeholder briefings and consultations between May 2011 and mid-2015 and that, consistent with longstanding treaty-making processes, there will be an opportunity for public and parliamentary scrutiny prior to the TPP being ratified.
TPP countries account for 24 per cent of the world's trade in services. Australia's services exports to TPP countries were worth $20 billion in 2014, almost 35 per cent of our total services exports, and this is expected to grow strongly moving forward.
The shadow minister for trade proclaimed on Insiders that Labor has:
… raised some concerns in the lead-up to these negotiations …
We do worry on our side of the parliament that this is the beginning of another fear campaign against a high-quality trade agreement that is in the national interest and that we hope will strengthen growth and create more jobs.
This is a high-quality deal. The TPP includes requirements for the highest labour and environmental standards. The TPP will not affect Australia's ability to set appropriate English-language requirements, training benchmarks, licensing requirements or the temporary skilled migration income threshold. Australia's TPP commitments are consistent with Australia's existing immigration and workplace relations frameworks. It is an agreement that hopefully will receive the efficient and speediest report of the Senate in the not too distant future.