- Parliamentary Business
- Senators & Members
- News & Events
- About Parliament
- Visit Parliament
Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Table Of ContentsView/Save XML
Previous Fragment Next Fragment
- Start of Business
- QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE
- DISTINGUISHED VISITORS
QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE
Goods and Services Tax: Banking Fees and Charges
(Crean, Simon, MP, Costello, Peter, MP)
(Brough, Mal, MP, Reith, Peter, MP)
Banking Fees and Charges
(Crean, Simon, MP, Howard, John, MP)
Private Health Insurance: Rebate
(Vale, Danna, MP, Wooldridge, Dr Michael, MP)
Private Health Insurance: Dental Services
(Macklin, Jenny, MP, Wooldridge, Dr Michael, MP)
Superannuation: Defence Forces
(Snowdon, Warren, MP, Moore, John, MP)
(Washer, Mal, MP, Ruddock, Philip, MP)
(Andren, Peter, MP, Howard, John, MP)
Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation
(Nugent, Peter, MP, Downer, Alexander, MP)
Taxation Reform: Averaging
(O'Connor, Gavan, MP, Vaile, Mark, MP)
Logging and Woodchipping
(Causley, Ian, MP, Tuckey, Wilson, MP)
Taxation Reform: Mining Industry
(Evans, Martyn, MP, Moore, John, MP)
Goods and Services Tax: Farm Exports
(Lieberman, Lou, MP, Costello, Peter, MP)
- Goods and Services Tax: Banking Fees and Charges
- AUDITOR-GENERAL'S REPORTS
- ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE
- MATTERS OF PUBLIC IMPORTANCE
- MAIN COMMITTEE
- MATTERS REFERRED TO MAIN COMMITTEE
- TARIFF PROPOSALS
- GOVERNOR-GENERAL'S SPEECH
- PRIVATE HEALTH INSURANCE INCENTIVES BILL 1998
- Delfram Docking Anniversary
- Internet: Small Business
- Superannuation: Military Benefits Superannuation and Benefits Scheme
- Economy: Government Policy
Member for Bowman
- Beaudesert Shire: Pioneers
- Native Title
Tuesday, 24 November 1998
Mr NUGENT —My question is addressed to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Can the minister inform the House of Australia's contribution to APEC this year and the key outcomes that were achieved at the 1998 meeting?
Mr DOWNER (Foreign Affairs) —I thank the honourable member for Aston for his question. I recognise his enduring interest in international relations issues as a member of the joint house committee and the chairman of the coalition committee on foreign affairs. Despite the well publicised disappointment at the APEC meeting on trade liberalisation on what is called early voluntary sectoral liberalisation, it is worth remembering that the APEC meeting did produce some important outcomes. We wanted APEC to focus very much on the regional economic crisis. We prepared the ground on a number of different fronts over quite some period of time.
The leaders at the meeting, at which the Prime Minister ably represented Australia, did agree on a number of Australian proposals. The first was to reaffirm the commitment to APEC's free trade and investment goals of free trade and investment markets by 2010 and 2020. The second was to adopt national policies to promote economic growth. The third was to endorse best practice international codes in transparency and financial sector management. The fourth was to endorse a future role for the G22, of which Australia is a member, in pursuing initiatives to strengthen the international financial system. The fifth was to establish a working group on private sector involvement in crisis management, which Australia has offered to chair.
I said earlier that there was disappointment about the failure to reach agreement on early voluntary sectoral liberalisation at APEC. That particular initiative has now been transferred to the World Trade Organisation. We very much hope, as do other APEC members, that agreement can be reached in the WTO over the next year. By next year's APEC meeting, there will be a good deal to report in progress in those areas.
There were a number of other low profile outcomes of the APEC meeting that are, in our view, of very real value. First of all, the individual action plans that the countries put forward at APEC were extremely promising. They were significant, to say the least. In particular, I mention the individual action plans of China, Indonesia and Korea, countries that made very important new liberalisation initiatives. It is also worth mentioning that there was agreement on an APEC blueprint for action on electronic commerce. That is a dynamic response to a very important part of the global economy. It is important to note here in the House of Representatives of Australia that Australia co-chaired the task force which produced the blueprint.
We also at APEC accelerated regional cooperation on the critical year 2000 computer bug problem. There will be a regional crisis planning conference held early next year. Finally, we secured APEC-wide endorsement for an important Australian initiative to improve community understanding of the benefits of open markets. There is no doubt, as all members of this House know, that there is a lot of community opposition to trade liberalisation and the opening of markets. Yet, of course, there is an overwhelming economic case for it. It is important that the APEC members communicate much more effectively than they have done so far the benefits of trade liberalisation and the benefits of the work of APEC to the broader communities in their own states.
We look forward to taking APEC further forward next year under New Zealand's chairmanship. But this year's meeting—which has had, I think it is fair to say, a fairly average press, not only here in Australia, but also in other countries—did achieve a good deal. Some of the achievements may not be very high profile achievements, they may not excite people greatly. But they are important to the overall evolution of an economic and financial environment of the region.
The last point I would make is that nobody should ever underestimate the political importance of the leaders meeting—of getting leaders from now 21 economies together, in an environment which is relatively informal, to talk about a whole range of different issues of regional and global importance. You cannot underestimate the importance of that. We look forward to another successful leaders meeting in New Zealand next year.