Former Minister for Trade
Australian Commonwealth Coat of Arms

Pushing forward with the Korean FTA and the Trans-Pacific Partnership

Media release

15 March 2010

The next round of negotiations of the Australia-Korea FTA will commence today in Seoul and the first negotiating round of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) will start today in Melbourne.

Trade Minister Simon Crean welcomed the two negotiations saying Australia had much to gain from trade liberalisation.

"The Republic of Korea is Australia’s third largest export market and the negotiations are advancing well," he said.

"There are hard negotiations ahead but the progress so far has been very encouraging."

"Australia will continue to push on with the core access issues of agriculture and services in this round."

"Australian exports to South Korea are already worth more than A$21 billion a year and with the IMF forecasting economic growth of 3.6 per cent in 2010, South Korea represents a major market of opportunity for Australia."

"While negotiating the Doha round remains our highest priority, global trade is dynamic and we are striving towards a high-quality FTA with one of the world’s major economies."

"Australia is negotiating FTAs in North Asia with our three biggest export markets - China, Japan and Korea. Of the three, negotiations are progressing fastest with Korea," Mr Crean said.

The talks in Seoul will be the fourth round since negotiations commenced in May 2009 and are scheduled to run from March 15 to 18.

A feasibility study conducted in 2005 found a full FTA between Australia and Korea would boost the Australian economy by A$30 billion over 14 years and the Korean economy by A$39 billion over the same period.

On the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, Mr Crean said the start of negotiations was a major milestone.

"The Trans-Pacific Partnership represents a pathway toward achieving APEC's long-term goal of a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific," he said.

"The TPP will be an ambitious, 21st century agreement that will strengthen economic integration in the region."

"The Australian Government will be seeking a high standard, comprehensive agreement that complements the WTO Doha Round."

"The participation of the US is an important signal of the Obama Administration’s commitment to the region, and an encouraging sign of broader US engagement on trade policy issues," Mr Crean said.

The TPP parties are Australia, the United States, New Zealand, Singapore, Chile, Brunei, Peru and Vietnam. Collectively these countries are home to 470 million people and have a combined GDP of A$17.7 trillion (US$16.2 trillion).

Negotiators will explore new approaches to the obstacles facing businesses in the region, particularly in emerging sectors and growing areas of international trade, including services, e-commerce and green technology.

TPP Parties have agreed to hold four negotiating rounds per year, with the next round tentatively scheduled for June 2010.

The talks start today in Melbourne and will continue until March 19 with negotiations being led by senior representatives from each of the eight countries.

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