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Speech at launch of American Australian Business 2006, Sydney.

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Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

It’s a pleasure to be here to launch American Australian Business 2006 - an important publication for American companies that are looking to operate in Australia.

The book is now in its seventh edition - I think I’ve launched all but one of them - and it is a tribute to the efforts of Stroudgate and the American Chamber of Commerce in Australia.

AmCham has now promoted trade and investment between Australia and the United States for more than forty years. It will continue to play a crucial role as we enter the new phase of our commercial relationship created by the Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement.

The Australian Government is working hard to ensure that Australian businesses can take up the opportunities created by the FTA.

Austrade is adding 30 new export facilitators - 23 in the United States - to help businesses make the greatest impact in the growth sectors of the US economy.

We have also built on our experience with industry teams by establishing a Selling to Government team in Austrade’s Washington office.

The team will help Australian companies take advantage of our new access to the $200 billion US Government procurement market.

We have also set up a one-stop internet portal - - to provide up-to-date information to help businesses understand and benefit from FTA opportunities, including the AUSFTA.

And we are looking to develop new ideas and identify market opportunities created by Australia’s free trade agreements through the work of the newly established Free Trade Agreements Export Advisory Panel.

We have already seen some important success stories from the FTA.

One example is the Brisbane transport company Vigil Systems, which has secured a major contract to provide intelligent transport system products to the Los Angeles metro. It’s the second largest transit operator in America - after New York - and carries more than 400 million passengers a year.

Vigil has now doubled its staff in the United States and is looking to sell its products in more cities across the country.

The Free Trade Agreement is a living document; it will evolve and expand as our trade relationship grows.

We’ve already seen the introduction of a separate visa category, the E-3 visa, for 10,500 Australian business people and professionals seeking to live and work temporarily in the United States.

For our part, the Australian Government is keen to develop mutual recognition arrangements with the United States to streamline the regulation of our two financial sectors.

It has significant potential to reduce the cost of doing business, and the Government will seize every opportunity to achieve concrete results in this area.

I now want to turn to how Australia and the United States can work to liberalise global trade through the Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations.

Next week, I will join my colleagues from the United States, the European Union and other key WTO nations in Switzerland for a series of meetings to break the impasse in the negotiations.

These discussions will make or break the Doha Round, and will centre on agriculture, where we have been unable to reach agreement.

Agriculture is the key to the whole round and we will not be able to complete the talks on the other areas - such as services and manufacturing - until agriculture is sorted out. We must narrow the differences in the positions that are currently on the table if we are to make progress ahead of the Ministerial meeting in Hong Kong in December.

Agricultural trade reform is not just crucial for Australia’s world-class farmers, but for the people of the developing world. The World Bank has estimated it could deliver global welfare gains as high as $269 billion; around 40 per cent would flow through to developing countries.

Australia will be a key player in next week’s discussions, as chair of the Cairns Group, and will be fiercely advocating the need for an ambitious outcome that will see real reductions in domestic farm subsidies, cuts to tariffs that keep efficient producers like Australia out of lucrative markets and an end to export subsidies a soon as


I will be speaking to the US Trade Representative, Rob Portman, and the European Union Trade Commissioner, Peter Mandelson, ahead of the meetings next week, and I will be delivering the strong message that they must act now to get these negotiations moving again. Australia stands ready to work with them, but the impetus must come from the United States and the European Union.

We also need movement from rich countries such as Japan, Norway, Korea and Switzerland, which have benefited immensely from global trade in manufactured goods, and yet continue to plead for special protection in the case of agriculture.

As the world’s largest economy, the United States bears a particular responsibility for reinvigorating the negotiations.

To begin with, the US must outline how it will reform its domestic farm subsidy programs. The excesses of the past cannot be allowed to continue. The world trade

community has shown through WTO challenges to both the US and EU programmes that they will no longer be tolerated.

Australia has welcomed the pledge and challenge put forward by President Bush, who said that the United States was ready to eliminate all tariffs, subsidies and other barriers if other nations did the same.

It is now time for the United States to turn President Bush's pledge into results.

The time for words is past. The world is looking to the US and the European Union to show the leadership that is needed to bring the Doha Round to a successful end. We need action now.

So in conclusion, Australia’s trade relationship with the United States is going from strength to strength as we build our bilateral commercial relationship and work to liberalise world trade.

American Australian Business 2006 highlights our close commercial links, and will help develop them further.

Thank you.

Bill McKinley Communications Adviser Office of the Hon Mark Vaile MP Deputy Prime Minister Leader of The Nationals Minister for Trade

Tel: 02 6277 7420 Fax: 02 6273 4128