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Promoting the Pacific 5

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Media Release

Senator Peter Cook

Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate

Shadow Minister for Trade

 

14 December 1999

 

Promoting the Pacific 5

 

Australia should seize the opportunity to develop a free trade agreement with the United States, Singapore, Chile and New Zealand, Shadow Trade Minister Senator Peter Cook said today.

 

"A number of factors make this timely," said Senator Cook. " They include:

 

  • the breakdown of World Trade Organisation talks in Seattle;

 

  • the need to better enmesh ourselves into Asia, following the problems caused by the Prime Minister's ham-fisted suggestion that we might play 'deputy sheriff' in the region; and

 

  • the fact that P5 is a sufficiently compact proposal for the United States to engage with during the early part of a Presidential election year.

 

"P5 will not clash with our attempts to start a new round of WTO talks, or efforts to link AFTA and CER. Instead, it will complement them, as yet another effective way of removing trade barriers and opening markets.

 

"Australia should offer to host a meeting of P5 Trade Ministers in January or February 2000. Until now, we have been leaving it to New Zealand to make the running, while we drag along in their wake.

 

"A web of free trade agreements is developing in the Asia-Pacific - including Chile-Mexico-Canada, New Zealand-Singapore, Japan-South Korea, Japan-Mexico, Japan-Canada, Singapore-Mexico and Korea-Chile. Now is an opportune time to create our own.

 

"Prominent US economist Dr C Fred Bergsten has called P5 'the most promising way to proceed for the foreseeable future'. Australia should do all we can to make it a reality."

 

ENDS

 

 

For further information, please contact:

Andrew Leigh on (02) 6277 3700 or 0412 633 652.

 

 

md 1999-12-23  11:49