Trade and Competitiveness Minister Craig Emerson today arrives in Russia, where he will take part in the 24th Ministerial Meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in Vladivostok.
Dr Emerson will use the two-day lead-up to the APEC Leaders' Summit - attended by Prime Minister Julia Gillard - to shore up support for proposals to reduce tariffs on environmental goods among APEC's 21 member countries, and to open up the higher education market in the region.
Australia has been a leading advocate of the environmental goods initiative since it was first proposed, almost two years ago.
One of the priorities at this year's APEC meetings will be to find agreement on a list of environmental goods for tariff reduction.
"Lower tariffs would free up the regional trade in green products to make them cheaper and more available to users," Dr Emerson said.
"More liberalised trade in these goods would help APEC economies make the transition to a lower-carbon future."
Australia will also strongly back an accord to ease the movement of students, researchers and higher education providers around the region.
Australia is already a big player in higher education, with $10 billion in exports in the region last year.
"This accord would enable us to expand this fast-growing services industry, which will be vital to Australia's economic diversification into ever-higher value-added goods and services," Dr Emerson said.
"This type of market opening also fits well with the vision taking shape in the Asian Century White Paper.
"By investing with our regional partners in the talents of our young people, we can help them better appreciate each other's cultures while preparing them for the opportunities of the Asian Century."
APEC's economies account for 56 per cent of the world's GDP and more than 70 per cent of Australia's trade in goods and services.
The regional grouping plays a crucial role in delivering trade and investment liberalisation, advancing economic reform and improving the environment for doing business in the Asia Pacific region.
"We will use the Vladivostok meetings to call for further efforts to take forward trade reform in World Trade Organization negotiations and to resist new protectionist measures," Dr Emerson said.
Challenges facing the global economy and regional food security are among other issues on the agenda.
While at Vladivostok, members of the Trans-Pacific Partnership grouping will assess progress on the negotiations for a trade deal involving 11 APEC countries.
- Minister Emerson's Office: (02) 6277 7420
- DFAT Media Liaison: (02) 6261 1555