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Australia concludes WTO deal with Saudi Arabia.

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MVT23b/2000 31 March 2000

Australia Concludes WTO Deal with Saudi Arabia  

Trade Minister Mark Vaile announced today Australia had reached an in-principle agreement on market access for Saudi Arabia's joining of the World Trade Organisation.

The deal covers key Australian export interests and will take effect once Saudi Arabia joins the WTO when it has concluded similar negotiations with other WTO members.

"The deal will guarantee secure trading conditions for hundreds of millions of dollars of Australian exports and will help to expand our exports above the $1 billion per year mark achieved recently," Mr Vaile said.

"It includes nearly 600 product categories across our key agricultural and manufacturing exports. Particularly pleasing results include packaged milk previously banned into the Saudi market and wheat and wheat flour where we have negotiated down a prohibitively high tariff. Other agricultural gains include a range of dairy and meat products, horticultural products and certain processed foods such as confectionery and bakery products.

"It is also a great outcome for Australia's auto exports to Saudi Arabia currently worth around half a billion dollars a year. We have achieved significant cuts in tariff rates that will provide much greater security of access for our auto and auto component exporters. There are also gains across a range of services industries such as legal, engineering, health, mining, telecommunications, consultancy and education that will make it easier for Australians to do business in Saudi Arabia.

"The opportunity to be one of the first countries to reach a market access settlement follows my visit to Saudi Arabia last month leading one of the largest business delegations ever to accompany a Minister overseas. There was clear recognition from our business leaders that a WTO accession deal on acceptable terms would be a huge boost to our trade and investment profile in Saudi Arabia.

"We are also looking to Saudi Arabia to implement a range of other trade reforms in areas such as standards and import licensing being discussed at the WTO in Geneva. We are keen to see these negotiations move forward in a constructive atmosphere to resolve outstanding issues so that Saudi Arabia can enter the WTO at the earliest opportunity."

Mr Vaile expressed his appreciation to Saudi Minister for Commerce, His Excellency Mr Osama Bin Ja'far Faqih, for his positive contribution to the negotiations. He said the conclusion of the WTO deal was timely given the high-level visit to Australia next week of senior member of the Saudi royal family and Governor of Riyadh, HRH Prince Salman Ibn Abdul Aziz al-Saud.

For further information contact: 

Minister's Office - Bruce Mills (02) 6277 7420