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FTA approval needed to set stage for big benefits.

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Media release

12 August 2004 - MVT69/2004

FTA Approval Needed to Set Stage for Big Benefits

Trade Minister Mark Vaile today said Parliamentary approval of the Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement was necessary this week to ensure benefits began to flow to the Australian economy from January next year.

The Government today said amendments proposed by the Australian Labor Party were unnecessary and a political smoke-screen to mask the party's divisions on the FTA but they should not prevent the implementation of the agreement.

"In our view, there is a real possibility that

the Labor amendments are inconsistent with the negotiated agreement. This will need to be assessed over time," Mr Vaile said.

"This Free Trade Agreement with the United States offers enormous benefits to Australia, and we can not risk continued Labor filibustering delaying its implementation."

"Economic modelling on the impact of the FTA proves beyond doubt the agreement will provide enormous benefits to the Australian economy."

An economic analysis undertaken by the Centre for International Economics earlier this year said that a decade after coming into force the FTA will result in an annual boost to the Australian economy of $6 billion.

Other key findings from that study included:

● Over the first 20 years of the agreement,

the present value of the benefit to the Australian economy exceeds $57 billion. ● Over 30,000 jobs will be created and real

wages will rise. ● All states and territories will be better off.

● The FTA will have no material impact on the

price of drugs.

"There is no doubt that the FTA will be worth billions of dollars and thousands of jobs to the Australian economy," Mr Vaile said.

"This FTA promises Australians benefits we can not turn our back on. Mr Latham is prepared to put that at risk; the Government is not."

Media contact: Matthew Doman (Canberra) +612 6277 7420.