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Minister for Trade to visit Belgium and Russia

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27 October 2008

Minister for Trade to visit Belgium and Russia The Minister for Trade, Simon Crean, will travel to Belgium (27 to 28 October) and the Russian Federation (29 October to 1 November).

In Belgium, Mr Crean will meet with the newly appointed EU Commissioner for Trade, Baroness Catherine Ashton, to discuss progress on the WTO Doha Round of trade talks. Mr Crean worked closely with the former EU Commissioner, Peter Mandelson, in progressing the Round and looks forward to continuing this close working relationship with Baroness Ashton.

Against the backdrop of the global financial crisis it is critical that every effort be made to conclude the framework of the Doha Round this year. The G8 Leaders’ Statement on the Global Economy of 15 October highlighted their determination “to intensify efforts to bring about a successful conclusion of the WTO negotiations with an ambitious and balanced outcome”. On 21 October, President Bush said that before he leaves office he is “going to press hard to make sure we have a successful Doha Round”. The meeting of G20 Leaders on

15 November provides another opportunity for high level political drive towards this outcome.

In Moscow, Mr Crean will co-chair the Australia-Russia Joint Commission on Trade and Economic Cooperation (JCTEC) with Mr Aleksey Gordeyev, Minister for Agriculture of the Russian Federation.

This will be the first trade and economic talks held between Australia and Russia since the inaugural meeting in 1995.

Mr Crean will be accompanied to Russia by a delegation of senior Australian business representatives from the agribusiness, financial services, mining and resources sectors.

Trade and investment are an increasingly important feature of Australia’s bilateral relationship with the Russian Federation. Russian investment in Australia is estimated to be around $5 billion.

To facilitate these interests Mr Crean will focus on a number of trade and investment issues with Russia that require attention. In particular, he will seek improvements to regulations

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impacting on Australia’s agricultural exports to provide greater certainty for agricultural producers.

Mr Crean will also meet with business people and Russian Government representatives in Moscow and St Petersburg.

Media Inquiries: Mr Crean's office 02 6277 7420 - Departmental Media Liaison 02 6261 1555

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