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

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Media release

Australian Minister for Trade, Mark Vaile
Monday, 30 July 2001

Vaile Welcomes Strong Business Support for US Free Trade Agreement

Trade Minister Mark Vaile today welcomed the release of a letter from Australian business groups in support of a Free Trade Agreement with the United States.

"I was pleased to pass the letter to US Secretary of State Colin Powell at today's AUSMIN talks," Mr Vaile said.

"The letter was signed by a wide range of companies and industry associations representing a broad spread of sectors.  This shows the strength of support for an FTA among the business community.  It also confirms the value of the Government's strategy of seeking free trade deals with practical and substantial benefits for the private sector.

"The letter of support from Australian business groups to US Secretary of State Colin Powell matches the strong support for an FTA shown by the US business community, as demonstrated by the creation of the American Australian Free Trade Agreement Coalition in Washington earlier this month.

"I restated to the US the importance Australia attaches to agreement on a new round of trade negotiations at the World Trade Organisation Ministerial Meeting in Qatar, an approach the US shares.

"I also emphasised that the Government was looking for prompt action by the US Administration to lift the WTO-illegal import restrictions on lamb.  Australia remains committed to working effectively with the US to reach early resolution of the dispute."

The letter to Secretary of State Powell was signed by most of Australia's largest peak business groups, including the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry which comprises a network of more than 350,000 firms, and the Business Council of Australia whose members represent companies that together employ more than one million people nationwide.

Other signatories include organisations representing sectors such as mining, food, horticulture, banking, insurance, tourism, shipbuilding, pharmaceuticals, horticulture, textiles and fashion, and Internet and environment industries.

James Baker (Ministerial) 02 6277 7420
Nicole Guihot (Departmental) 02 6261 1555


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