At the end of a four-day visit to Asian countries, Trade Minister Craig
Emerson has shared the view of his hosts that further trade liberalisation
will create more jobs and prosperity in the region and globally.
Dr Emerson held productive discussions at senior levels in China, the
Republic of Korea, Singapore and Hong Kong.
"Maybe it's because I'm an incurable optimist who hasn't been through the
searing experience of the 2008 breakdown in global trade negotiations, but
I believe a path can be found to finalising the Doha round," Dr Emerson
"No one should underestimate the challenge of concluding the round, but nor
should anyone give up."
Dr Emerson held formal Ministerial talks with the Korean Trade Minister, Mr
Kim Jong-hoon, on the free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations between the
two countries and agreed to seek resolution of the remaining issues to
bring negotiations to an early conclusion.
"Though the outstanding issues are difficult for both sides, Korea is
Australia's third-largest merchandise goods export market and an agreement
offers substantial benefits for our two countries," Dr Emerson said.
During his visit to China, Dr Emerson met Mr Zhang Ping, Chairman of the
National Development and Reform Commission and Mr Chen Deming, Minister of
Commerce, to discuss China's economic development strategy and bilateral,
regional and global trade liberalisation.
"China is going from strength to strength, helping boost Australia's
exports to China almost 40-fold – from A$1.6 billion in 1990 to an
estimated A$62 billion in 2010 – in the space of just two decades," he
"What lies ahead is equally breathtaking.
"Mr Chen and I agreed to explore more creative ways to accelerate
negotiations for a free trade agreement between China and Australia."
Dr Emerson raised with both Mr Zhang and Mr Chen the efforts of Tertiary
Education Minister Chris Evans and a delegation of University
Vice-Chancellors – who also visited China this week – to promote the
quality of Australia's tertiary education sector.
During his visits to Hong Kong and Singapore, Dr Emerson acknowledged the
benefits of openness to both those economies.
"It's no coincidence that both of these strongly performing economies are
also among the most open in the world," he said.
"My discussions with Singapore’s Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Lim Hng
Kiang and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr George Yeo, focussed in
particular on our shared interests centred on the Trans-Pacific
Partnership, a 21st Century agreement designed to liberalise trade in the
world’s most dynamic region."
Dr Emerson's visit was in advance of the forthcoming G20 and APEC meetings.
"The take-home message I received from my hosts was that Australia's voice
is valued in regional and global trade forums and the views expressed by
Prime Minister Gillard at the G20 and APEC will carry considerable weight,"
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