SALLY COCKBURN: And coming up shortly we're going to be speaking to Andrew Robb, the Federal Trade Minister. And in fact not only coming up, we're going to be talking to Andrew Robb, the Federal Trade Minister, now. Just to put it in a nutshell, in case you've just joined us, historic day for Australia. The signing of a Japan-Australia economic partnership agreement, a free trade agreement was signed earlier on today.

And on the line is the Federal Trade Minister Andrew Robb, who must feel pretty chuffed.

ANDREW ROBB: Thanks very much Sally. Yes it's quite satisfying. It's a big deal. It's the most ambitious trade deal Japan's ever concluded with anyone so it'll take our relationship to another level I think.

SALLY COCKBURN: And so we've heard - we spoke to a finance person earlier on about how it could lead to cheaper prices for goods coming in and also for tariff removal for goods going out.

ANDREW ROBB: Exactly, yes.

A lot of electronics and white goods and all of the usual sorts of things that we import from Japan, including cars of course. Cars should - could come back many hundreds of dollars, I would think, once this agreement's in place.

SALLY COCKBURN: Excuse my scepticism, but I always worry about whether there's going to be middlemen along the way who are going to sort of soak up all of our winnings if you will. The consumer will still win?

ANDREW ROBB: Well, I think so, because it's quite a competitive market. I mean even if you take cars for instance, I think there's 80 different models that we import from around the world. So there's a lot of competition and if the Japanese, and we did a similar deal with the Koreans, if they can take $500 off and be no worse off or $1000 off and be no worse off, they might get a much bigger market share. So I do think it'll - a lot of it will be passed on and as well, the things that we sell into Japan, we'll be far more competitive.

SALLY COCKBURN: What about jobs? Is it meaning that there's going to be - we can take our business over there and set up companies and they can come over here? Does it extend to that?

ANDREW ROBB: It does. I mean we're a fairly open economy. So in many ways, you know, the Japanese could set up here for a long time now and they do employee Australians. And it's Mitsubishi and Mitsui and all of these companies. I just came from a meeting with the president of Kawasaki and you know, our kids grew up on Kawasaki motorbikes.

These are household names, but we'll be in a much better position now because of this agreement. They have relaxed a lot of the restrictions. Our legal firms will be able to set up there in their own rights, our accounting firms, our financial companies, our environmental management groups.

You name any sort of service pretty much and they'll be able to go up there, not have to go into a joint venture, they'll be able to set up in their own right and, you know, they'll make money in Japan to feed back here.

SALLY COCKBURN: What about visas in terms of can, you know, our young people go over to Japan and like get a visa to work there? Will that be easier?

ANDREW ROBB: Yes, yes. We've got reciprocal work arrangement and on the visas for instance, if a husband or wife goes to a job, the spouse and the children automatically get visas.

These things have always been difficult in the past. So it just - it not only loosens up so many things across our economy, but it creates just a better relationship and trust and, you know, life's built on trust. And that way even things that we haven't anticipated, you find that we can work through those more readily between one another.

SALLY COCKBURN: Well, I think it is just - it's wonderful. And as I said, you must have a big grin all over your face I would imagine. And the last time I saw a grin that wide on your face was when we were competing in the stand-up paddle boarding.

Because you are my local - I must - you are my local member and you've been fantastic in raising money for the local Sandringham Hospital with your wonderful paddle boarding expertise.

ANDREW ROBB: Well, now everyone will know you're exaggerating because I'm - actually I have now bought my own paddle board, I've got to say, because I do swim in the bay every day and I thought in winter I might have a break every second day and go on the paddle board, as long as I don't fall in. But it's quite a good sport.

SALLY COCKBURN: It is.

ANDREW ROBB: And it was all in a good cause.

SALLY COCKBURN: Was indeed.

ANDREW ROBB: …that day with the Sandringham Hospital.

SALLY COCKBURN: It was indeed. Look, thank you very much and congratulations on this historic deal with the Japanese Government. I think it's wonderful to see and it's sort of great to have those friends across the sea. So thank you very much Andrew Robb, Federal Trade Minister.

ANDREW ROBB: Thanks Sally.

SALLY COCKBURN: Thank you.

ANDREW ROBB: Thanks a lot.

Media enquiries

  • Trade Minister's Office: (02) 6277 7420
  • DFAT Media Liaison: (02) 6261 1555