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MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: You’re in Canada and the US this week, presumably discussing the Trans-Pacific Partnership among other things, when is that going to be signed?  What’s the deadline now do you think?

ANDREW ROBB: There’s no deadline, but there’s every prospect within the next two months that an agreement will be reached, because it’s then got to go through political processes in 12 different countries, including the US which won’t be easy.  But it is a 21st century remarkable agreement, so hopefully we can get there in the next two months, if we don’t I think it’ll have to wait until after the US election.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: There’s obviously still a lot of concern about it from many quarters, including from some in Australia; the judiciary here and certainly the Australian Medical Association are concerned about the power this would give big US drug companies, the flow on cost to Australia’s Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme could be significant couldn’t it?

ANDREW ROBB: There’s so much nonsense being peddled by anti-trade groups basically, trying to frighten people about the prospects of freer trade, more seamless trade between 12 countries; there’s so much misinformation floating around.  The industry itself in Australia is not expressing concerns and they’ve been consulted every step of the way – all of the industries in Australia have been consulted every step of the way – about the state of negotiations in their sector and we’re not hearing it from them.  A lot of it is driven by anti-trade groups within the ACTU – we know that because we see where the email addresses come from.  I think it’s grossly overstated the concern of the community.  This will be of enormous benefit to Australia in terms of jobs and growth for decades to come.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: Trade Minister Andrew Robb there.

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