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Thursday, 13 September 2018
Page: 6292

Senator REYNOLDS (Western AustraliaAssistant Minister for Home Affairs) (10:37): Yes, I can. According to the National Interest Analysis, once PACER Plus is fully implemented Australian exporters will gain tariff-free access to PACER Plus markets for nearly 92 per cent of all tariff lines carrying 88 per cent of Australian exports to the region. There are clearly significant benefits to Australian exporters and many different commodities right across our nation.

Economic modelling of trade agreements is only one tool to assess whether an agreement is in the national interest. DFAT commissions economic modelling of trade agreements on a case-by-case basis. I've been advised that statistical and methodological limitations mean that current models are unable to estimate the total impact of a free trade agreement on the economy. For example, it is difficult to model accurately the changes to non-tariff barriers, trade facilitation, increased regulatory certainty and other aspects of a free trade agreement such as the rules that are imposed. Also, statistical data on international trade and services, and investment flows into the Pacific, are incomplete.

Two qualitative assessments were undertaken of PACER Plus as a whole. The first one was by the Institute for International Trade at the University of Adelaide, who prepared a report called the Research study on the benefits, challenges and ways forward for PACER Plus, and they did this in June 2008. It did provide an early assessment of issues for consideration in the negotiations. The second one was by the Office of the Chief Trade Adviser, who undertook and published the PACER Plus impact and sustainability assessment in 2016. It was prepared independently by the organisation with input from consultants. It presented an assessment of the potential economic, social and environmental impacts of trade liberalisation under PACER Plus for the Pacific Islands nations themselves.