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Truss welcomes release of the US-Australia FTA text.

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DAFF04/044WT - 4 March 2004

Truss welcomes release of the US-Australia FTA text

Australian Agriculture Minister Warren Truss today welcomed the release of the draft text of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Australia and the United States.

Mr Truss said that, while it is unusual for the full text of such a complex agreement to be available so soon after the negotiations, it provides an early opportunity for Australians to examine the historic agreement in detail.

"It is also the best way of reassuring Australians that there has been no compromise on our conservative approach to quarantine and biosecurity," he said. "Australians can read for themselves that the agreement explicitly respects Australia's rights under the WTO to determine its own level of risk, to conduct its own scientific risk assessment and to set quarantine policies based on science.

"The FTA includes mechanisms for discussing quarantine and food safety issues. A Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Committee will bring together the agencies in each country responsible for biosecurity matters, to boost understanding of each other's processes and to coordinate activities internationally.

"A Technical Working Group on Animal and Plant Health Measures formalises an established arrangement between our two countries and provides a forum in which technical and scientific matters can be discussed.

"There will be no changes to the way Biosecurity Australia appoints members of the independent scientific panels that conduct Australia's Import Risk Analyses.

"It is also clear from a reading of the text that Australia's single desk marketing arrangements for key agricultural commodities have been maintained."

Mr Truss said the FTA would provide Australian exporters with significant and immediate access to the beef, dairy, horticulture, lamb and seafood markets in the US.

"The US and Australia share the common goal of reform of international trade in agricultural products and this agreement will increase the pressure for change."

Mr Truss also pointed to the protection from US safeguard action that Australia could receive as a result of its status as a free trade partner.

"As long as Australia is not the cause of substantial injury to US industry,

we can be exempted from safeguard action applied under s201 of the US Trade Law," he said. "The steel safeguard, which was imposed on selected Australian steel products into the US in 2002, is an excellent example. Under the FTA, Australian industry could be exempt if similar action was taken again."

The full text of the draft US-Australia FTA is available online at -

Further media inquiries:

Minister Truss' office: Tim Langmead - 02 6277 7520 or 0418 221 433