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Trade top of agenda at Australia-Japan conference.

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Minister for Resources and Energy, Minister for Tourism

TRADE TOP OF AGENDA AT AUSTRALIA-JAPAN CONFERENCE The Minister for Resources, Energy and Tourism, Martin Ferguson AM MP, arrived in Tokyo today and used his keynote address to the Australia-Japan Conference to reaffirm Australia's commitment to the strong bilateral relationship and acknowledge the value of free and open trade between the two nations.

With the global economic crisis deepening throughout the world, increasing trade - including maintaining the momentum of the Australia-Japan Free Trade Agreement talks - is at the top of this year's Conference agenda.

Minister Ferguson said: "The Australia-Japan relationship has for decades been vital to both countries, but with the current global economic crisis, the relationship is now essential to the development and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region.

"When international confidence is low, relationships such as Australia-Japan take on new significance. The relationship shows the value of trade; of open, transparent foreign investment regimes; and of shared ideals. Indeed, Japan’s economic miracle is in large part due to free and open trade in resources with Australia.

"Japan sources approximately 60 per cent of its coal and 60 per cent of its iron ore from Australia, and Japanese investment was instrumental in opening up the Pilbara iron ore region in Western Australia in the 1960s.

"Today, Japan is Australia’s largest export market, taking almost one-fifth of all merchandise exports in 2007-08, almost as much as China and the United States combined. Japan delivers Australia its largest trade surplus of $14.6 billion in 2007l; while Australia feeds much of Japan’s needs for clean and reliable food and energy."

"While we can expect trade in traditional areas such as resources and energy to continue to thrive, this Conference gives us the opportunity to consider new areas of increased trade. Financial services and services generally are currently under-represented in our trade, even though services make up more than 70 per cent of the economies of both countries.

"The Australian and Japanese Governments are negotiating a Free Trade Agreement and the Australian Government is confident we can conclude a comprehensive and high-quality Agreement which gives further impetus to the trade relationship and increases growth, production, and consumer welfare in both nations."

Seven rounds of negotiations have been held and the next will be held in Tokyo in February 2009.

The Hon Martin Ferguson AM MP

19 Nov 2008

~Minister for Tourism


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