Wednesday, 17 June 2020
Questions without Notice
Australia-United Kingdom Free Trade Agreement
I thank Senator Abetz for his question and his interest in this very important topic. I'm pleased to inform the Senate that later today Australia and the United Kingdom will officially commence negotiations towards a free trade agreement between our two countries. This is a great step forward in terms of creating new opportunities that will lead to new and further job opportunities for Australians. The UK is already our seventh largest trading partner, and our total two-way trade is worth more than $30 billion a year.
But we can do much more than that. We are seeking an ambitious and comprehensive free trade agreement that secures commercially meaningful market access for our farmers and businesses and across the services sectors as well as for goods, and further strengthens our two-way investment flows.
The UK is Australia's third-largest services trading partner. In 2019, our two-way services trade was worth in excess of $15 billion. We want to make sure that, across financial services, professional services, telecommunications, fintech and emerging sectors, we enhance and strengthen those opportunities. The UK is already our second-largest source of foreign investment in Australia, with foreign direct investment valued at $127 billion in 2019. We see exciting investments, such as by British based pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca in its $200 million manufacturing facility in North Ryde in Sydney. We know that, when the UK entered the European Economic Community in 1973, our agriculture exports suffered the worst. At that stage, the UK was our third-largest goods trading partner; it is now our 12th. Tariffs on agricultural products account for 67 per cent of all tariffs the UK applies to Australian exports. We seek to eliminate as many of these as possible to create new opportunities for our farmers and our businesses to grow more jobs through the relationship. (Time expired)
One in five Australian jobs is dependent upon trade related employment. Whether it's across Senator Abetz's home state of Tasmania or my state of South Australia or any part of our great country, there are so many Australians who rely upon trade and market access to sustain their employment and their jobs. It's estimated that, through our trade growth over recent years, more than 240,000 trade related jobs have been created across Australia. And, despite the challenges of the pandemic, we have seen trade volumes hold up very strongly in so many of our key markets. We know there are more Australian businesses exporting and we know from analysis that Australian household incomes are higher as a result of those trading relationships. This is all about making sure that we continue to post the record trade surpluses we have off the back of record exports and, in doing so, create more job opportunities for people right across Australia.
Right through our time in government, we have sought to grow the choices for Australian farmers and businesses about who they do business with. That is why we have struck trade deals with the Republic of Korea, Japan and China, and have signed the Trans-Pacific Partnership and our Indonesia agreement that comes into force on 5 July. It is why, whilst we are pleased to be launching negotiations with the United Kingdom, we're also determined to conclude negotiations with the European Union, such a significant and valuable partner for us. We're looking to make sure we grow those opportunities across all of those EU nations, which have a population and potential consumer base for Australia of more than 400 million people. We have just completed our seventh round of negotiations with the EU, doing so through virtual organisations and formats, making sure we continue to make real progress to deliver the type of comprehensive relationship that can create more job opportunities for Australians and mutually beneficial outcomes for our nations.