The Hon. Mark Vaile, MP
The Hon. Mark Vaile, MP
FORMER MINISTER FOR TRADE

Media release

Tuesday, 18 May 2004 -MVT35/2004

Vaile and Zoellick Sign Free Trade Agreement

Australia's Trade Minister Mark Vaile and United States Trade Representative Robert Zoellick today (18 May) signed the Australia United States Free Trade Agreement in Washington.

Negotiations on the AUSFTA were finalised in February after 11 months of talks between the two countries. Signature by Mr Vaile and Mr Zoellick will allow the US Congress to consider the agreement by July.

Both governments welcomed the signing of the agreement as a balanced deal that would expand substantially business opportunities for both countries.

"Recent independent analysis by the Centre for International Economics predicted the AUSFTA could add more than $6 billion to the Australian economy after 10 years of operation," Mr Vaile said.

"The agreement will also bring more closely into alignment Australia's commercial, defence and security relationships.

"The government hopes to see the agreement enter into force on 1 January 2005 following passage of implementing legislation through the Congress and the Australian Parliament."

Mr Vaile met with senior congressional and business figures to encourage support for congressional passage of the agreement ahead of the visit in June by Prime Minister John Howard who will also be advocating the strong mutual gains from the enhanced integration of the Australian and United States economies.

Contact:

Contact: Matthew Doman (ministerial) 02 6277 7420 - Nicole Guihot (departmental) 02 6261 1555

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