PM Abbott's Business Delegation to Forge 'Trifecta of Trade'
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CANBERRA, March 25, 2014 — Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the upcoming Australia government and business delegation to North Asia would forge a trifecta of trade agreements with South Korea, Japan, and China, at an Asia Society Australia lunch here today.
“The global middle class is projected to grow from 1.8 billion to over 3 billion by 2020 — and most of that growth will occur in Asia,” Mr Abbott told the lunch attended by some of Australia's highest profile business leaders.
“Asia will generate about half the growth in global output between now and 2030.
“There is, of course, no law of nature saying that the Asian middle class must buy the products of Australian manufacturers, must use our services, must study at our colleges, or must visit our tourist destinations.
“Just because Asian countries have found Australia a good supplier in the past, doesn't mean they will inevitably do so in the future.
“That's why this Government is doing everything it can to complete free trade agreements with our top three export markets.
“While in Korea, I hope to witness the signing of the Korea-Australia Free Trade Agreement. In Japan, I hope to help finalise the Japan-Australia FTA. In China, I hope to announce substantial progress towards freer trade. This is the trifecta of trade we are working towards.
“The Korea-Australia Free Trade Agreement will reduce or eliminate tariffs on key agricultural exports and will open opportunities for innovative service businesses, well suited to compete in President Park’s ‘Creative Economy’.
Mr Abbott stressed that it was up to Australian business to capitalise on the government's efforts. “We will open the doors — but Australian businesses will still have to walk through in order to maximise the benefits of these arrangements,” Mr Abbott said.
“Free trade agreements mean little without businesses willing to make the most of them.
“So, accompanying this trip to our three largest trading partners will be a very senior business delegation, indeed.”
Asia Society Australia Chairman Warwick Smith will be a part of the delegation, which departs in two weeks.
“It will involve small, medium and large companies from across our country and across all sectors of our economy — including financial services, food and agribusiness, and manufacturing,” the Prime Minister said.
“I'm pleased to say that it's likely that all six [State] premiers will also participate.”
The Prime Minister stressed that Australia's continued engagement with Asia would not come at the expense of existing friendships.
“My predecessor, John Howard, often remarked that Australia did not have to choose between its history and its geography. My message is that making new friends doesn't mean losing old ones,” he said.
Mr Abbott also announced a significant development in higher education engagement between Australia and Japan.
“In Japan, I will launch the first pilot phase of the new two-way Colombo Plan which complements Prime Minister Abe's ambition to double the number of Japanese students studying abroad,” Mr Abbott said.
The Prime Minister recalled the original Colombo Plan, which “brought the best and the brightest students from Asia to Australia to study at our universities”.
“Australia has much to teach the world; but much to learn as well, especially from Asia,” Mr Abbott said.
“Six decades after [the first Colombo Plan], the new Australian government is completing the circle by sending Australia's best and brightest to study at universities in our region.
“It is our mark of respect for our regional partners.”
Reported by Benjamin Haslem
25 March 2014, Prime Minister Tony Abbott speaks at the Asia Society in Canberra, ABC News
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25 March 2014, Abbott bets on strong 'trifecta of trade', The Sydney Morning Herald
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25 March 2014, Abbott bets on strong 'trifecta of trade', Geelong Advertiser
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26 March 2014, Prime Minister Tony Abbott says Australia will move to finalise free trade agreements with China, Japan and South Korea, Australia Network News
27 March 2014, Push for free-trade deal with China, SBS News
28 March 2014, Captains join Tony Abbott's Asia mission, The Australian