Trade and Competitiveness Minister Craig Emerson is in Paris today to take part in the annual Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Ministerial Council Meeting.
Dr Emerson, who on Tuesday signed a free trade agreement between Australia and Malaysia, will use the forum to emphasise to OECD members the importance of open markets to job creation.
On Australia's behalf, Dr Emerson will convene a meeting of trade ministers — including from the United States, the EU, Japan, China, Korea and Canada — to seek the speedy completion of negotiations under the Doha Round of world trade talks on trade facilitation and the accession to the World Trade Organization of Least Developed Countries.
Trade facilitation was identified last month by G20 trade ministers at a conference in Mexico as an area of the Doha Round where agreement could be reached.
It is estimated an agreement on trade facilitation, which would lower the cost of trade by improving global customs procedures, would account for 44 per cent of all the potential benefits of the Doha Round.
Two-thirds of these benefits would accrue to developing countries.
Australia recognises that poorer countries will need assistance to implement any deal in order to reap the benefits of improved trade facilitation.
"I will be asking Ministers how we can best advance discussions in Geneva to incorporate the world's poorest countries into the global trading system," Dr Emerson said.
The OECD meeting will also offer the opportunity to build support for trade liberalisation at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum and G20 Leaders' meetings later this year.
"The contribution of open markets to job creation is well established," Dr Emerson said.
"With much of the developed world still beset by economic instability, agreement on ways to liberalise trade is more important than ever."
- Minister Emerson's Office: (02) 6277 7420
- DFAT Media Liaison: (02) 6261 1555