Ex­port deals on line

Townsville Bulletin - - National Snapshot -

PRIME Min­is­ter Ju­lia Gil­lard will push for a bet­ter deal for Aus­tralian ex­porters when she meets with US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama at the White House.

Se­cu­rity is­sues in­clud­ing Afghanistan, Egypt, Libya and the chang­ing dy­nam­ics of the Asia-Pa­cific re­gion are also ex­pected to fea­ture in the talks to­day on Ms Gil­lard’s first visit to Wash­ing­ton DC as Prime Min­is­ter.

The US pres­i­dent, who will host APEC in Hawaii later this year, wants to see sig­nif­i­cant progress on a new free trade deal in the Asia-Pa­cific re­gion known as the Trans-Pa­cific Part­ner­ship ( TPP) – a move sup­ported by Ms Gil­lard.

The part­ner­ship – which the US, Aus­tralia, Malaysia, Peru and Viet­nam are look- ing at join­ing – cur­rently only in­volves Brunei, Chile, New Zealand and Sin­ga­pore.

Ms Gil­lard be­lieves the TPP could even­tu­ally lead to an Asia-Pa­cific free trade area.

She will also stress the need to con­clude the Doha round of mul­ti­lat­eral trade talks this year. But Ms Gil­lard is also ex­pected to step up pres­sure for the US to cut farm sub­si­dies, which ad­versely af­fect Aus­tralian farm­ers.

At least 40 per cent of Amer­i­can farm­ers re­ceive some form of sub­sidy un­der fed­eral law known as the Farm Bill, which has been rou­tinely re­newed . Ms Gil­lard is ex­pected to ar­gue that de­spite the strug­gling US econ­omy, the pow­er­house nation needs to avoid build­ing pro­tec­tion­ist walls and pass a farm bill that pro­motes trade.

At the same time Aus­tralian farm­ers are ex­pected to be asked to play a role in a new aid pack­age to Egypt, be­ing de­vel­oped fol­low­ing t he demo­cratic up­ris­ing that forced Pres­i­dent Hosni Mubarak from power.

The pack­age, which is be­ing ne­go­ti­ated with in­put from Egypt and the United Na­tions, is ex­pected to not only in­clude food but help to run elec­tions.

Aus­tralia ex­ported $ 411 mil­lion in wheat, coal and other goods to Egypt in the past fi­nan­cial year.

Con­tin­u­ing her eco­nomic and trade theme, the prime min­is­ter will also hold talks with Trea­sury sec­re­tary Tom Gei­th­ner, Fed­eral Re­serve chair­man Ben Bernanke and US Trade Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Ron Kirk.

Ms Gil­lard will be­come the fourth Aus­tralian prime min­is­ter to ad­dress a joint sitting of Congress.

Photo: GARY RA­M­AGE

HIS­TORIC VISIT: PM Ju­lia Gil­lard with Aus­tralian Am­bas­sador to the United States Kim Beaze­ley in Wash­ing­ton

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