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Jobs at risk from indecision over EU agreement



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

Stephen Smith Member for P erth Shadow M inister for T rade

4 December 1996

JOBS AT RISK FROM INDECISION OVER EU AGREEM ENT

Shadow Trade Minister, Stephen Smith, said today that the continuing refusal by the Government to sign a framework trade and cooperation agreement with the European Union (EU) is doing nothing to improve our growing trade deficit with the EU and will cost Australian jobs.

Mr Smith said a report by a European Parliament delegation concludes that the Australian Government is stalling on the important trade agreement with the EU.

"The delegation reports that the Australian Government has twice postponed talks to conclude the framework agreement because of concerns over a standard human rights clause in the agreement," Mr Smith said.

"Every recent trade agreement the EU has entered into has contained this standard clause. The Republic of Korea recently signed such a framework agreement with the EU. What do we have to fear on human rights that the Koreans don't?

"The clause is effectively a reinforcement of support for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which Australia has supported for more than 50 years. What do we have to fear from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and what do we have to fear from the Europeans on human rights?

"Our merchandise trade deficit with the European Union has recently blown out from $8.8 billion to $11.4 billion.

"The Government's position is costing Australian business and costing Australian jobs." .

Mr Smith said further delays would be of great concern to Australian exporters.

"Immediate action, not delay, is needed to arrest this trend.

"The Government's dilly-dallying over this agreement can do nothing but harm to our international reputation and make it more difficult for Australian companies to win business and claw back the alarming and growing trade deficit with Europe."

Further information: John Flannery, (06) 277 4053 Jane O'Dwyer, 0419 937 336

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