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Coalition to pursue bilateral trade agreements: Peacock



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P A R L IA M E N T O F A U S T R A L IA

H O U S E O F R E P R E S E N T A T IV E S

HON. A N D R E W PEACOCK, M.P. MEMBER FOR KOOYONG SHADOW MINISTER FOR TRADE COMMONWEALTH

PARLIAMENTARY LIBRARY MICAH

PARLIAMENT HOUSE CANBERRA, A.C.T. 2600 TEL. (06) 277 4720, 277 4419 FAX. (06) 277 4990

LEVEL 16 90 COLLINS STREET MELBOURNE, VIC. 3000 TEL. (03) 650 3455 FAX. (03) 650 5115

PRESS RELEASE BY HON. ANDREW PEACOCK, MP SHADOW MINISTER FOR TRADE .

COALITION TO PURSUE BILATERAL TRADE AGREEMENTS; PEACOCK

The Shadow Minister for Trade, Hon. Andrew Peacock, today criticised the present Government for pursuing a "single-track strategy" to open international markets through multilateral negotiations and said that although a Coalition Government would remain committed to the GATT system it would also pursue Australia's interests through regional and bilateral

negotiations.

Mr Peacock said, "It is ludicrous that Australia is among a handful of the 108 members of the GATT which has not pursued a multi-track strategy in international trade."

Speaking at the Metal Trades Industry Association of Australia's National Business Strategy Group Conference in Canberra, Mr Peacock said the Australian Government had turned a blind eye to developments in other parts of the world out of

a belief that the Uruguay round of GATT negotiations was a panacea for Australian trade.

He said that while Australia was singularly pursuing a successful outcome to the GATT talks, other nations were forging regional trading arrangements which would accommodate their interests in both best-case and worst-case scenarios of the Uruguay round. He cited the European single market and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) as examples.

Mr Peacock said, "The Labor Government has failed exporters because it has invested all its diplomatic capital in the GATT and has not contemplated a post-Uruguay round world and has not made any preparations for trading in that world."

He said a Coalition Government would pursue a "multi-track strategy" by investing as much diplomatic capital in bilateral negotiations as it did in the GATT.

"The Coalition will seek to establish Liberal Trading Arrangements (LTAs) on a bilateral basis initially, then widening out to sub-regional agreements and eventually to an agreement that embraces the whole Asia-Pacific region.

"While the present Government has been reluctant to negotiate such arrangements because of its pessimism about what Australia has to offer regional economies as a trade-off, the Coalition does not accept that trade is a zero-sum game.

There are outcomes in which all players can emerge winners and a win-win proposal would have particular appeal to the Asia- Pacific economies.

"The economies of the region would be prepared to enter special trading arrangements with Australia if those arrangements catered for their concerns about security of supply, openness to trade with countries outside the region, and continued trade liberalisation.

"An LTA agreement in which Australia supplies products that the Asia-Pacific economies cannot produce efficiently would give those economies the opportunity to develop sectors in which they have comparative advantage, both regionally and in

the world economy.

"An LTA agreement would deliver faster rates of export growth to all countries involved and therefore faster rates of economic growth than the regional economies already enjoy."

Mr Peacock said the Coalition would successfully negotiate bilateral LTAs by first addressing areas on which agreement can be reached at present, such as the exchange of information on tourism and trade flows within the region, trade dispute settlement procedures, and the standardisation of customs documentation and clearance procedures.

He said the Coalition would also encourage greater investment and involvement from Australian business into the region and vice versa in order to further "enmesh" the Australian economy with the economies of the region.

"This is a pragmatic agenda which forms the building blocks for bilateral and sub-regional LTA agreements which will form a framework for export growth."

Mr Peacock also said it was necessary to "lock" the members of NAFTA (the US, Canada, and Mexico) into regional economic developments in order to ensure NAFTA does not become an exclusive trade bloc.

He said Mexico should be admitted to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum when Ministers meet in Bangkok next week in order to further strengthen relations between the region and North America.

ends. Canberra, 2 September 1992.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION OR TO ARRANGE AN INTERVIEW CONTACT ALISTAIR NICHOLAS ON (06) 277 4720 OR (06) 231 5306 A.H.