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Transcript of doorstop interview of the Prime Minister, Sydney, 29 November 2004: ASEAN; regional free trade agreement; Treaty of Amity and Co-operation.



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PRIME MINISTER

29 November 2004

TRANSCRIPT OF THE PRIME MINISTER THE HON JOHN HOWARD MP DOORSTOP ON DEPARTURE FOR ASEAN, SYDNEY

Subjects: ASEAN; regional free trade agreement; Treaty of Amity and Co-operation.

E&OE………………………………………………………………………………………..

JOURNALIST:

With regard to the free trade agreement that we’re looking at with the ASEAN nations, what were you hoping to achieve from that?

PRIME MINISTER:

What I’m hoping to achieve is an agreement that we commence a two year process of negotiating a free trade agreement between Australia and New Zealand and the ASEAN countries. If that happens, that will be a good outcome. Remember, of course, that we already have very extensive trade relations with many of the countries of ASEAN and we already have a free trade agreement with Thailand, and a free trade agreement with Singapore. We’re talking about one with Malaysia, and, of course, we have very extensive and growing trade relationships with the nations of North Asia, namely Japan, China and Korea. So we have to keep these discussions and these negotiations in perspective.

JOURNALIST:

What would be the benefits from Australia (inaudible)?

PRIME MINISTER:

Just a further growth in our trade with the region, but once again it’s the substance of the trade relationships that matters rather than formal documents and formal processes. It’s how much you sell and how much you buy, and how many people you educate in each others countries that really matters rather than documents. Documents are process; trading relationships are the substance of an association between countries.

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JOURNALIST:

What effect would Australia’s signing or non-signing of the Treaty of Amity and Co-operation have on negotiations and ultimately a treaty?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, they’re two separate issues. We shouldn’t confuse the two, and that’s been made very clear. They’re two unrelated issues, and in the end it’s the substance of the relationship that we have with individual countries that really matters.

Thank you.

[ends]