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Budget 2007-08

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DFAT 01 8 May 2007

BUDGET 2007-08

In the 2007-08 Budget, the Australian Government has announced a number of measures to advance the interests of Australia and Australians internationally.

Free Trade Agreement Negotiations: Japan and China

The Australian Government has provided $17.0 million over two years for the negotiation of free trade agreements (FTAs) with Australia’s two largest trading partners, Japan and China.

An FTA with Japan, the world’s second largest economy, has the potential to significantly boost the Australian economy. It will secure and improve access for Australian exporters of goods and services to our largest export market and promote greater two-way investment. An FTA with Japan will foster market-based economic integration in our region and further strengthen Australia’s relationship with one of our most important regional partners. This funding will allow the Government to conduct FTA negotiations

with Japan, including consultations with domestic stakeholders, and to build support in Japan for a comprehensive FTA that encompasses Australia’s interests.

Funding is being provided for the continuation of the FTA negotiations with China. China is the world’s fastest-growing major economy. It is now Australia’s second largest overall trading partner and trade continues to grow rapidly. A comprehensive FTA with China will generate significant economic benefits for Australia across all sectors of the economy. This funding will allow the Government to continue the negotiations, including consultations with Australian stakeholders and advocacy with influential Chinese to help

ensure the FTA produces outcomes that are of a high quality and are commercially valuable to Australia.

Shanghai World Expo 2010 - Phase 1

The Australian Government will provide $1.5 million in 2007-08 to fund preparations for Australia’s participation in the World Expo 2010 in Shanghai.

The Shanghai Expo is set to be the biggest and most dynamic expo ever. It will enable us to showcase Australia, and our innovation and expertise, to a growing Chinese and broader international audience. Phase 1 funding will be used to prepare project and budget plans for Australia’s presence at the Expo. These plans will cover a wide range of activities, including the business and cultural programs that will take place in and around the Australian pavilion.

Australia on the World Stage

The Australian Government has committed $20.4 million over four years to enhance Australia’s cultural diplomacy and improve market access for our cultural exports.

‘Australia on the World Stage’ will help create a better understanding of Australia in our region and further abroad. This initiative will showcase Australian arts and our other cultural assets to the world. It will project an appropriate and contemporary image of Australia, boost our cultural exports, promote Australian tourism and education, and support the promotion of Indigenous art.

‘Australia on the World Stage’ will be implemented through the Australia International Cultural Council (AICC), a consultative body chaired by the Minister for Foreign Affairs. The Council's Secretariat is housed in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Consular Emergency Services

The Australian Government has provided $0.2 million per year to facilitate the provision of emergency consular assistance to Australians overseas who need assistance in extreme circumstances, where they do not have a capacity to enter into legal arrangements.

This initiative widens the scope of the Government’s consular assistance to those who most need help in extreme circumstances. It enables the Government to provide prompt and effective emergency financial assistance to Australians who do not have the capacity

to sign legal undertakings to repay. With this measure the Government will be able to provide better assistance to Australians, such as unaccompanied or abandoned minors and victims of physical or mental injury or illness, where all other means of assistance are exhausted.

Maintaining Overseas Property

The Australian Government has agreed to three projects which will maintain its overseas property portfolio in a cost effective manner.

The Government will acquire land and construct a new chancery for the Australian High Commission in Nairobi, involving funding of $9.7 million over two years. Refurbishments will also be carried out on the chancery building of the Australian Embassy in Paris, involving funding of $28.3 million over four years, and the residential compound of the Australian Embassy in Tokyo, involving funding of $22.0 million over three years.

These projects are necessary to maintain appropriate standards, improve security, enhance operational effectiveness and preserve the value of Australian Government-owned assets.

Funding Boost for USA Export Network

The Australian Government has committed an additional $11.1 million over two years to continue the Export Facilitators Program in support of the Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA). The program was established in 2005 to help businesses take advantage of export opportunities arising from increased market access under the AUSFTA.

Since its introduction, the Export Facilitators program has directly assisted more than 450 businesses achieve over $280 million in export deals to the US and has been effective in developing export opportunities for Australian businesses in the world’s largest market.

Media inquiries : Mr Downer’s Office (02) 6277 7500 Mr Truss’ Office (02) 6277 7420