Thursday, 4 February 2016
Questions without Notice
My question is also to the Cabinet Secretary, Senator Sinodinos, representing the Minister for Trade and Investment. Can the Cabinet Secretary outline for the Senate recent developments with the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.
Indeed this is a red-letter day. I can see Senator Whish-Wilson is getting excited already because I can confirm what he suspected. After commencing in 2010, the TPP negotiations were concluded in October last year. The Minister for Trade and Investment in Auckland this morning, at 09:00 am Australian time, with 11 of these counterparts from across the Pacific actually signed the agreement. So I can confirm to the chamber that the rubber will now hit the road in terms of the scrutiny that members in this chamber have been looking for, because, after the signing ceremony, there will be a process through the national interest analysis, through the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties and through other processes to look at the great net benefits that this particular TPP will provide to Australia. We have now reached formal agreement with Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, New Zealand, Singapore, the US and Vietnam on the biggest trade deal in a generation. Think of what this means for less developed countries in the region. There are benefits to advanced countries, but if you really care for developing countries in our region you will support the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
It is a great milestone for Australia and will form a key part of our economic prosperity for decades to come. It is yet another notch in the belt for the coalition, particularly for the trade minister, Andrew Robb, who has delivered. Since coming to office in 2013, this government, and Andrew Robb in particular, has concluded four major free trade agreements. So between our trade agreements with China, Japan and South Korea, and now the TPP, we have free trade agreements in place that cover almost half of all global economic activity. The legal review and the official translation of the TPP have been finalised. The treaty text, relevant Australian side letters— (Time expired)
Each of the 11 countries has its own process of dealing with domestic treaty making and scrutiny. For Australia this means, as I mentioned before, that before any binding treaty action is taken the TPP text and the national interest analysis will be tabled in the parliament for 20 joint sitting days—an analysis done by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Further, the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties will conduct an inquiry into the TPP and report back to the parliament. Parliament will consider any legislation or amendments to existing legislation that may be necessary to implement the agreement. Crucially, going forward, the TPP is not limited to the original 12 signatory nations. I can report that the trade minister has said to me that other countries in the region outside the TPP are already saying, 'We want to be part of the action,' because they believe that countries inside the tent will get the break on them by being part of this arrangement. So even though the original agreement— (Time expired)
I thank the honourable senator for his supplementary question. Under this agreement, 98 per cent of tariffs amongst the 12 member nations will go. Tariffs on $9 billion of Australia's dutiable exports to TPP member nations are eliminated. This will further increase our competitive advantage in world markets. In agriculture, in particular, the TPP will eliminate tariffs on more than $4.3 billion worth of Australia's dutiable exports of agricultural goods—yet another boost for rural and regional Australia, because we love rural and regional Australia. Sugar, dairy, beef, iron, steel, pharmaceuticals, machinery, paper, automotive parts, rice, grains, wine, engineering, oil exploration—
Opposition senators interjecting—