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Wednesday, 21 October 2015
Page: 11995


Ms MARINO (ForrestChief Government Whip) (14:21): My question is to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Will the minister update the House on how the coalition's economic diplomacy agenda is helping Australian businesses gain greater access to overseas markets?

Ms JULIE BISHOP (CurtinMinister for Foreign Affairs) (14:22): I thank the member for Forrest for her question. I acknowledge her support for the strong agricultural sector in her electorate, with its world-class beef and dairy farmers and its world-class wines and horticulturalists.

One of the government's signature foreign policy initiatives—economic diplomacy—will ensure that our innovative and world-leading agriculturalists, and our small-business operators and producers, are successful in export markets, either by finding new markets or by enhancing existing markets for our exporters. Economic diplomacy is about promoting prosperity, and a key element of the policy is of course trade. We have signed three free-trade deals with our North Asian neighbours. Today, of course, we are so pleased to have the support of the opposition for the China free-trade agreement. This will make a significant difference to our exporters, particularly in the agriculture sector. I want to pay tribute to our indefatigable trade and investment minister for his work on these three free-trade agreements.

However, our economic diplomacy initiative is also about harnessing every aspect of our diplomatic network to support the efforts of Australian businesses overseas. Indeed, our heads of mission are specifically tasked with increasing economic ties between Australia and the host country. I have made supporting our businesses who are seeking to operate overseas, or who are working overseas, a core duty of our ambassadors and our high commissioners—part of their everyday work. And this is yielding results.

For example, in Sri Lanka our officials have helped Western Australian based company Wellard Rural Exports to finalise a five-year cattle supply contract. Last year our diplomats in Hong Kong successfully negotiated the resumption of dairy imports from an Australian company to ensure continuity of sales. In Brazil our diplomats have assisted Australian fashion designers to showcase at the Sao Paulo Fashion Week next year—the year of the Olympics in Brazil. The Sao Paulo Fashion Week is the fifth-largest in the world.

Mr Danby: What happened to your support for Mr Putin?

Ms JULIE BISHOP: Not only will this impact on our $12 billion fashion industry it will have a flow-on effect for our textile and materials producers in cotton, leather and wool, for example.

Mr Danby: Putin—her new favourite!

Ms JULIE BISHOP: Through Tourism Australia we have also run a global Restaurant Australia campaign that targeted four million Britons and has resulted in a significant increase in tourism enquiries that will translate into increased tourism visitors here. Similar campaigns in other nations around the world are highlighting the high-quality food and wine available in Australia, including in the beautiful Margaret River.

This government is committed to finding more opportunities for Australian businesses to export goods and services overseas.