Wednesday, 23 November 2022
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister for Trade and Tourism, Senator Farrell. The government is making significant progress to diversify trade opportunities for Australian businesses. Can the minister provide an update on the status of Australia's trade agreements with the United Kingdom and India?
I thank Senator Polley once again for her deep interest in this subject area. It is a subject that is so important to her home state of Tasmania.
It's important to say that, after almost a decade of the Liberal government, Australia was more dependent than ever on a single market for our exports. To overcome this predicament the Albanese Labor government is progressing a trade policy agenda that creates opportunities for Australian businesses to gain new market access in major markets. This includes implementing trade agreements with two of our major trading partners: India and the United Kingdom.
The Liberal government dropped the ball by failing to conclude parliamentary processes to implement the Australia-UK Free Trade Agreement and the Australia-India Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement. In contrast, this government took an important step yesterday, deepening and diversifying our trading relations with India and the United Kingdom, by passing legislation to implement these trade agreements.
We want to continue to work closely with the United Kingdom and the Indian governments. I've been in contact with both of those governments overnight to ensure that all of the processes that we commenced and completed yesterday—we're just waiting for royal assent—everything we have done on our side to complete these processes, is done on the other side.
A trade agreement with the European Union will further expand opportunities for Australian businesses, including in the agriculture sector. Can the minister provide an update on the progress of the trade negotiations with the EU?
Opposition senators interjecting—
President, thank you for that protection. I start by thanking Senator Polley once again for that insightful question. Despite many years of negotiations, the Liberal government failed to land a trade deal with the European Union. Why was that? Why did you fail to land an agreement? Why did New Zealand get ahead of us with a free trade agreement? Because of the former Morrison government's disrespectful approach to a close ally. I'm pleased to say that negotiations are back on track, and discussions have occurred with the wonderful prosecco producers. Both Australia and the EU— (Time expired)
I thank Senator Polley once again for her question. Yes, you're right, yesterday I had a great meeting with the director-general. It was a very warm and friendly meeting. Of course, she's a great friend of our former Prime Minister, Prime Minister Gillard. Her visit provided an opportunity to discuss how we can continue to work together to address the challenges facing the multilateral trading system. A key issue discussed was the need to ensure that we have a properly-functioning dispute-settlement system. I also emphasised the importance of addressing trade-distorting agricultural subsidies.
In recognition of the importance of the WTO to Australia's economic resilience, Australia committed $5 million to help developing countries and less-developed countries access to the benefits of WTO membership. (Time expired)