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Wednesday, 25 November 2015
Page: 8978

Senator RYAN (VictoriaAssistant Cabinet Secretary) (15:42): I seek leave to make a short statement.

The PRESIDENT: Leave is granted for one minute.

Senator RYAN: While Israel is not part of the government's current FTA work program, it is an interesting point that the senator raises. Israel is of course a firm friend of Australia. The government is already pursuing an ambitious trade agenda. In the past year the government has concluded FTA negotiations with three key partners—Korea, Japan and China—as well as the 12 countries of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. We are also progressing negotiations towards the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership and a bilateral free trade agreement with India.

The government considers a range of factors when determining whether to pursue a bilateral free trade agreement. Australia seeks to conclude FTAs with partners that have shared interests and FTAs that are high-quality and comprehensive, are genuinely trade-liberalising and advance our broader objectives, including at the multilateral level and the WTO. The government also considers the opportunity for Australian exporters and investors to secure commercial benefits.

Israel was Australia's 43rd-ranked bilateral trading partner in 2014, with total merchandise trade of $961 million. Despite the modest trade flows, bilateral engagement and business links remain vibrant, with significant interest in the innovation and technology sectors. In this context I note that the Israeli Chief Scientist, ‎Avi Hasson, is in Australia this week for an exchange of views and perspectives. (Time expired)

The PRESIDENT: The question is that the motion moved by Senator Day be agreed to.

Question agreed to.