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Thursday, 22 October 1970

Mr McEWEN (Murray) (Minister for Trade and Industry) - by leave - For the information of honourable members I present the text of a trade agreement dated 21st July 1970 between the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia and the Government of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

This Agreement, signed by me on behalf of the Government on 21st July iti Belgrade, will come into force on the date on which the two countries notify each other that their respective constitutional and other requirements necessary to give effect to the Agreement have been complied with. The Agreement is further evidence of our efforts to diversify Australian export markets generally. Amongst other things, these efforts are designed to alleviate potential problems associated with the possible entry of Britain into the European Economic Community by broadening the basis of our trade.

This has, of course, been the policy of the Government for many years. Australian exports to Yugoslavia in 1969-70 were in excess of $I7m and there are further export prospects in this very promising market.

The economy of Yugoslavia is growing at a strong rate and market forces are allowed to influence purchasing decisions to an increasing extent. Australian businessmen will, therefore, be operating in a market with many familiar Western characteristics. In addition, the recent establishment of a direct Australia- Yugoslavia shipping service will be of further assistance to those exporters interested in this market. Yugoslavia is of interest not only for its market but also because of the unique status it has in relation to both the European Socialist countries and the Western countries. Whilst it has Associate status in the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance, generally referred to as COMECON, it is also a member of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, commonly known as GATT, the International Monetary Fund and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. This unusual cross-roads position gives Yugoslavia trade access to both eastern and western Europe and some triangular trade is already developing.

Australian traders could be well advised to look into these aspects. The special position that Yugoslavia holds in relation to eastern Europe could be significant because of the potential which exists for the expansion of international trade with that area. Trade between eastern Europe and the Western countries has been expanding at about 8 per cent per annum in recent years. The area offers openings for wool and wool tops, wheat, meat, hides and skins and other raw materials, fresh, canned and dried fruit, dairy products, footwear, coal, iron ore and pellets, and other items of export interest to Australia. Trade is a twoway street and if our exports to Yugoslavia are to increase we must expect increases in imports from Yugoslavia.

I discussed these matters in the course of my visit to Belgrade and I would anticipate that Yugoslavian exporters will make increased efforts in the Australian market. The basis of the Agreement with Yugoslavia is a simple exchange of mostfavourednation tariff treatment. Its existence is expected to benefit trade between the two countries as it gives a stable and secured basis for the expansion of mutual trade and provides a concrete indication to traders that it is the wish of the two Governments that trade be expanded. The Department of Trade and Industry stands ready to assist businessmen in their endeavour to increase trade with Yugoslavia and other countries in the area.

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