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Thursday, 31 August 1989
Page: 706


Senator TEAGUE(4.11) —Madam Acting Deputy President, this third report to the Australian Government entitled Australia and the Pacific Economic Cooperation Conference is an important document because it deals with a vital area for Australia's well-being, that is, the future trade between Australia and not only Japan, China and the other areas of east Asia but also the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN)-indeed, the United States and the whole Pacific region. The great majority of Australia's trade lies in this area and it is understandable that from the early 1980s an initiative has been taken to have a national Pacific cooperation committee. The Pacific Economic Cooperation Conference, PECC, has been held some six times at 18-month intervals, and the last was held in May in Osaka, Japan. Sir Russel Madigan, as Chairman of the National Pacific Cooperation Committee of Australia, has brought this report to the attention of the Australian Government and, by its tabling, recently to the attention of the Parliament and the people of Australia.

I have a very close interest in the increasing success of Australia in trading in the entire region. There is no doubt in my mind that by early next century the Asia-Pacific region will be the centre of world trade. Over the last 400 years since the end of medieval times we have seen a shift in the focus of world trade from the Mediterranean to the North Atlantic and from the North Atlantic to the entire Atlantic Ocean, particularly the trade with Central, South and North America. I believe that the centre of world trade, which has been very much between Europe and the Americas, will be put into the shadow of the majority activity occurring in the Asia-Pacific region.

I am pleased that a very experienced former Australian Ambassador to China, Dr Ross Garnant, has been commissioned by this Government to give a far-sighted analysis of trading prospects in the region. I also want to endorse directly the Australian Government's initiative, supported by the Opposition, to call together in early November the Foreign Ministers of the six and the five-that is, the ASEAN six and the United States, Japan, Canada, New Zealand and Australia-into an 11-nation conference to look at ways of increasing regional trade in the Asia-Pacific.

Last week I represented this Parliament as an observer at the ASEAN interparliamentary organisation and this concept, called the Australian initiative, was one of the principal items for discussion. It is warmly received by ASEAN countries and there is a great deal of expectation about the Foreign Ministers' meeting here in Australia in November.

I also want to draw to the attention of the Senate an article in the Far Eastern Economic Review of 17 August by Mr Jusuf Wanandi, a person whom I have met in Jakarta, where he is the Director of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies. He is a far-sighted and excellently qualified person in economic matters. I will seek leave to incorporate that part of his article which refers to principles of cooperation and six introductory points that should govern the cooperation that is being looked to in this Asia-Pacific trade. I would have loved to expand upon those six matters. I happen to agree with Jusuf Wanandi, and I think they fit very well as a contribution to the context of the coming trade. I will therefore seek leave at the end of my speech to incorporate that paragraph in Hansard. I just conclude by commending the work of the National Pacific Cooperation Committee of Australia and the way in which a whole new environment has been achieved in the later 1980s that is of benefit to Australia and the entire region.

Leave granted.

The document read as follows-

The first condition concerns the principles of cooperation. The following six points have been put on the table:

Pacific economic cooperation should be based on independence, mutual respect and equality.

This regional cooperation should complement Asean's regional activities and role in the Pacific, and should strengthen multilateral mechanisms for cooperation, particularly Gatt.

This cooperation should not lead to the creation of an economic bloc or an exclusive trading arrangement.

It should be developed in a gradual fashion and be properly planned.

The objective of cooperation should be to increase the welfare of the people in the Pacific region and to reduce the gaps between the developed countries and the developing countries in the region.

This cooperation should contribute to the creation and maintenance of a stable and open trading system, regionally and globally, and a regional environment which is conducive to the promotion of mutual interests, including the ability to resolve regional conflicts peacefully.

Question resolved in the affirmative.