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Trade officials to be congratulated for Fischer backflip



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M E D I A S T A T E M E N T

Stephen Smith Member for Perth Shadow M inister for Trade

10 December 1996

TRADE OFFICIALS TO BE CONGRATULATED FOR FISCHER BACKFLIP

As Australia continues to push for a new round of multilateral trade negotiations before the end of the decade, all plaudits must go to trade officials, not Trade Minister Fischer, Shadow Trade Minister, Stephen Smith, said today.

Mr Smith said it is the common sense and the diligence of DFAT trade negotiators which is promoting the new round of negotiations among the powerbrokers at the WTO meeting in Singapore - a position denounced as unnecessary by Mr Fischer in the lead-up to the last election.

"Just months ago, Tim Fischer was continuing his opposition to a new multilateral round," Mr Smith said.

"He said he didn't think it was necessary.

"In fact he told Business Review Weekly on 22 January:

"...[my] inclination is not to support moves for another round of General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) negotiations at this time...it is more important that resources be devoted to negotiating away specific trade barriers..."

"This was, in fact, a declaration of Mr Fischer's ill-founded policy of "aggressive bilateralism", another policy he has been convinced to put back in the bottom draw.

"Former Trade Minister, Bob McMullan, led the push for a new round of multilateral trade talks before 2000.

"At the time, Mr Fischer was making the 'hard yards' in the other direction.

"Thankfully, the push is now being championed by DFAT officials, with a reluctant Mr Fischer tied to the masthead."

Further Information: Jane O'Dwyer (09) 377 3355 or 0419 937 336

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