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Trade Minister concedes there's no such thing as a US-Australia free trade agreement.



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FOR MEDIA

CRAIG EMERSON Member for Rankin

SHADOW MINISTER FOR INNOVATION, INDUSTRY AND TRADE

16 March 2003

Trade Minister concedes there’s no such thing as a US-Australia free trade agreement

Trade Minister, Mark Vaile, today conceded what I have been saying for weeks - the trade deal with the United States will not be a free trade agreement.

This is a false name for a false deal.

The United States will not provide open access for Australian agricultural producers.

During my recent visit to China, senior members of the Chinese Government told me a so-called free trade agreement between Australia and the US would reinforce impressions that Australia no longer considers itself to be part of the region.

American trade negotiators have said they will offer duty free access for Australian agriculture - but will they remove the quotas that restrict the quantity we can export to the United States? The answer is ‘no’.

The trade deal has been directly linked by the Howard Government with the strategic alliance with the US, taking Australia down a very dangerous path.

What deals have been struck in secret between John Howard and George Bush linking the trade deal with the Australian Government’s support for a US-led attack on Iraq?

By entangling the proposed trade deal with the alliance, the Howard Government is putting Australia in the worst of both worlds: compromised on Iraq and a trade deal that will discriminate against our trading partners in East Asia.

The proposed trade deal with the US increases the prospect of Australians being forced to go cap in hand to the US and asking for membership of a North American trading bloc as Australia is shut out of an East Asian trading bloc.

This would be a disaster for Australia.

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