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Ministers at sixes and sevens on trade negotiations.

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Contact: Craig Emerson 0418 781 386 or Brendan Shaw 0413 013 501


CRAIG EMERSON Member for Rankin


10 September 2002

Ministers at sixes and sevens on trade negotiations

Agriculture Minister Warren Truss is championing the Cairns Group established by the previous Labor Government as a force for global reductions in agricultural trade barriers in the Doha round of WTO negotiations.

At the same time, Trade Minister Mark Vaile is falling over himself to commence negotiations on a preferential trade deal with the United States, the Prime Minister reportedly having discussed the matter with President Bush in their phone conversation on Iraq last Saturday.

Perhaps Mr Vaile might explain why the American Congress would agree to provide preferential access for Australian agricultural products at the same time as the Administration was negotiating global reductions in agricultural trade barriers through the Doha Round.

Today Mr Vaile repeated his claim that a US-Australia FTA could boost Australia’s GDP by up to $4 billion a year.

Why does Mr Vaile refuse to reveal that most of this estimated $4 billion comes from Australia eliminating its own remaining trade restrictions, including car tariffs?

If zero car tariffs are on the Government’s agenda, it should say so.

Mr Vaile should ask Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane whether he supports zero tariffs for the car industry as Mr Macfarlane ponders his response to the Productivity Commission’s final report on assistance for the automotive industry after 2005.