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Time for Vaile to achieve some outcomes for Australia.

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Time For Vaile To Achieve Some Outcomes For Australia Peter Cook - Shadow Minister for Trade

Media Statement - 5 October 2000

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`It's time for Trade Minister Mark Vaile to achieve some trade policy outcomes for Australia, starting with this week's ASEAN economic ministers meeting in Thailand,' said Shadow Trade Minister Senator Peter Cook today.

`The talks this week will make important decisions on reducing trade barriers between Australia and New Zealand and the ASEAN countries. Early agreement to begin negotiations would be strongly in Australia's interest, as a recent study by the Centre for International Economics has confirmed.

`However, Mr Vaile's and Mr Downer's mishandling of Australia's regional relationships is beginning to haunt us,' said Senator Cook. `Quick agreement to pursue free trade with ASEAN should be straightforward, given the large economic benefits. But key ASEAN countries are unsure of Australia's overall commitment to the region and wary of our use of quarantine standards.

`This is a failure of communication,' said Senator Cook. `The Government has not adequately explained our quarantine regime to our trading partners and has failed to ensure that the Australian Quarantine Inspection Service is seen as politically independent.

`With the economic benefits to the region very clear, Mr Vaile needs to obtain agreement to begin negotiations immediately on free trade in the region, not simply further talks that would allow pressure to be brought to bear on our quarantine standards.

`Mr Vaile should stop riding on the back of our exporters' success,' said Senator Cook. `With no movement yet towards the launch of a new round of negotiations in the WTO, the APEC agenda having run aground and with Australia effectively locked out of the ASEAN plus three process, Mr Vaile needs to start achieving some meaningful trade policy outcomes for Australia.'

Authorised by Geoff Walsh, 19 National Circuit, Barton ACT 2600.