Turn­bull will talk trade in Eu­rope

The Daily Examiner - - NEWS -

AN FTA WITH THE EU WOULD GIVE AUS­TRALIA AC­CESS TO A MA­JOR MAR­KET THAT’S HUN­GRY FOR LUX­URY PROD­UCTS

TRADE MIN­IS­TER STEVE CIOBO

MAL­COLM Turn­bull wants to make se­ri­ous head­way on a free-trade deal with Aus­tralia’s sec­ond-largest trad­ing part­ner on his trip to Eu­rope.

The Prime Min­is­ter and For­eign Min­is­ter Julie Bishop will spear­head Aus­tralia’s pres­ence at the Com­mon­wealth Heads of Gov­ern­ment meet­ing in the UK this week.

But Mr Turn­bull will also meet with Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel and Euro­pean Com­mis­sion pres­i­dent JeanClaude Juncker in a bid to push ahead with a free-trade agree­ment with the Euro­pean Union.

The EU is Aus­tralia’s sec­ond-largest trad­ing part­ner, third-largest ex­port des­ti­na­tion and sec­ond-largest ser­vices ex­port mar­ket.

It is also the only sig­nif­i­cant trad­ing part­ner with which Aus­tralia has not launched FTA ne­go­ti­a­tions, but Mr Juncker said last year a deal with Aus­tralia was a pri­or­ity.

“An FTA with the EU would give Aus­tralia ac­cess to a ma­jor mar­ket that’s hun­gry for lux­ury prod­ucts and the clean and green pro­duce Aus­tralia is known for,” Trade Min­is­ter Steve Ciobo said ahead of the trip.

Aus­tralia ex­ported more than $30 bil­lion worth of goods and ser­vices to the EU in 2016-17.

Mr Turn­bull will also join lead­ers and min­is­ters from 53 Com­mon­wealth coun­tries in Lon­don to ad­dress the need for trade, in­vest­ment and good gov­er­nance, as well as cy­ber­se­cu­rity is­sues.

Mr Turn­bull said a meet­ing with Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May came at a cru­cial time, fol­low­ing the chem­i­cal weapons at­tacks in Syria and against for­mer Rus­sian spy Sergei Skri­pal in the UK.

“We will dis­cuss on­go­ing threats from ter­ror­ism, for­eign in­ter­fer­ence and ma­li­cious cy­ber ac­tors,” he said.

Free-trade agree­ment ne­go­ti­a­tions with the UK will start once it com­pletes Brexit.

The Prime Min­is­ter will also hold sep­a­rate meet­ings with NATO Sec­re­tary Gen­eral Jens Stoltenberg be­fore open­ing the Sir John Monash Cen­tre at Villers Bre­ton­neux with French Prime Min­is­ter Edouard Philippe.

Ms Bishop will meet with for­eign min­is­ters, in­clud­ing Bri­tish For­eign Sec­re­tary Boris John­son.

“Aus­tralia will be en­cour­ag­ing Com­mon­wealth lead­ers to re­sist pro­tec­tion­ism by mak­ing strong and prac­ti­cal state­ments in sup­port of a free and open rules-based trad­ing sys­tem,” Ms Bishop said.

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