The Hon. Mark Vaile, MP
The Hon. Mark Vaile, MP

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Media release

Australian Minister for Trade, Mark Vaile
Thursday, 21 June 2001

US Free Trade Agreement Study finds benefits exist

A Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the United States could increase Australia's real GDP by almost $US2 billion by 2010 according to a new study, Trade Minister Mark Vaile said today.

Mr Vaile announced the finding when he released the results of a study by the Centre for International Economics (CIE) on a possible Australia-US FTA at an APEC Study Centre conference in Canberra.

"Clearly we would not enter into an FTA negotiation with the US unless there were something in it for Australia, and this modelling study shouldn't be seen as prejudging any negotiating priorities. But the study has yielded promising results and certainly bears out the worth of pursuing discussions with the US on the prospects for an FTA negotiation," Mr Vaile said.

"Consultation and discussion with Australian industry and other interested groups is equally important in this process. I have welcomed the broad level of industry support for the Government's approach to our discussions with the US."

The CIE analysis, commissioned by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), also found that an FTA would increase US real GDP by $US2.1 billion by 2006. The total stream of benefits over 20 years could around $US10 billion for both Australia and the US. Furthermore, an FTA would most likely create trade rather than divert trade. 

Mr Vaile said the extent to which these benefits were realised would depend on the final shape of any agreement. 
"There are sensitive issues on both sides but that doesn't preclude a discussion to see what might be possible, particularly if it leads to an expansion of Australian exports," Mr Vaile said.

Another study commissioned by DFAT examining the broader policy implications of an FTA with the US is due for release in late July.

The CIE report is available on the DFAT website.


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