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Address to the Reception for the Diplomatic Corps, Canberra.
The Hon Simon Crean MP Minister for Trade
M E D I A R E L E A S E
Media contact: Mr Crean’s Office (David Garner 0400 412 404)
Departmental (02) 6261 1555
SC001 3 December 2007
Address by the Minister for Trade Reception for the Diplomatic Corps Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Canberra
Your Excellencies, Secretary L’Estrange, my colleague the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Air Chief Marshall Angus Houston, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.
It’s a great pleasure to be here after spending too many years on the Opposition benches in Parliament.
As you are aware I was this morning sworn in by the Governor-General as the Minister for Trade - a portfolio I have always had a great interest in.
In recent years I have met many of you and your predecessors at various events and functions.
I greatly appreciate the assistance that you and your respective governments have provided to me up to this point and I look forward to building on those relationships in coming years.
Hitting the ground running
The Rudd Government has an exciting and ambitious domestic agenda and an equally ambitious international agenda.
Our commitment to ratify the Kyoto Protocol will be warmly welcomed by the international community and gives us great impetus to hit the ground running on our trade policy agenda.
In that regard, I will be departing for Jakarta on Wednesday for my first official bilateral visit to Indonesia.
I am looking forward to meeting with the Indonesian Trade Minister, Mrs Mari Pangestu to discuss a range of bilateral trade policy issues and will also be meeting with other Indonesian Ministers. (I have already had a phone discussion with Mrs Pangestu to get the
I will then be travelling to Bali to attend the Trade Minister’s Meeting on Climate Change Issues in the lead up to the UN Climate Change Conference.
The Trade Minister’s meeting is an excellent initiative by the Indonesian Government to ensure that trade and economic considerations are a key part of the climate change negotiations as we pursue agreement on the long-term global response to climate change.
I have long argued that addressing climate change is not just an environmental imperative it represents an economic opportunity.
Following the Bali Trade Minister’s meeting I will then make my first bilateral visit to Singapore where I will meet with a number of Singaporean Government Ministers to discuss a range of bilateral, regional and global issues.
Labor’s trade agenda
On the trade policy front Labor will take a different approach to that pursued by our predecessors.
Achieving a multilateral outcome will, once again, become the main game.
We do see a role for bilateral and regional agreements but they must be consistent with our multilateral aims.
FTAs should strengthen our commitment to multilateralism and not weaken it.
In order to ensure that bilateral FTAs do serve the nation well, I announced during the campaign that we will commission a study of existing FTAs to determined just how effective they have been and also to set benchmarks for future FTAs.
And in trade negotiations Labor will give much greater emphasis to addressing the “Behind the Border” issues.
Due recognition will be given to the critical role the service sector plays in Australia’s export performance, and its very real potential for further development.
We need to recognise the growing importance of outward investment in securing a toe-hold in world markets, especially given the fact that direct foreign investment is now comparable to the level of direct inward investment.
And we need to take account of the changing nature of manufacturing or to respond to the imperatives created by global supply chains.
Resources and agriculture remain vitally important but we must value add to the resource base and further develop our potential in manufacturing and services.
We shouldn’t squander the opportunities of the ongoing resources boom but use them to target other opportunities in the services, elaborately transformed manufactures and small business sectors.
During the campaign I announced plans to strengthen and revitalise our trade facilitation programs, especially the Export Markets Development Grants Scheme.
I anticipate further improvements will be made to these programs following a comprehensive review of trade policy and programs that was also announced during the campaign.
When Labor was last in office net exports routinely made a positive contribution to growth but in more recent times this has not been the case at all.
It is vital for our national economy, any the economic well being of all Australians, that export growth is re-ignited.
I am looking forward to working with many of you in further developing and implementing an ambitious trade agenda for Australia that will put a spark back into export growth.