Shepparton News - Country News

US encouraged to rejoin trade agreement


Australia wants the United States back in the Trans-Pacific Partnershi­p as soon as possible under President Joe Biden, to maximise the benefits of the trade agreement.

While the US was an original member of the then 12-country agreement, former president Donald Trump withdrew soon after his election.

‘‘Ultimately, what we want to do is encourage the US to deepen its economic engagement in the region by joining the Trans-Pacific Partnershi­p,’’ Australia’s ambassador to the US Arthur Sinodinos told an online conference on Wednesday.

‘‘At the moment the Trans-Pacific Partnershi­p is a bit like Hamlet without the prince.’’

The former Liberal senator said the US needed to be there to maximise the benefits of the agreement and the strategic benefits of the US being in the region.

Along with Australia, the TPP is made up of Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

Australia also wants the US to help reform the World Trade Organisati­on with other like-minded countries to encourage China, in particular, to co-operate within the existing rules-based order ‘‘ . . . rather than somehow seek to change the order in their own favour,’’ Mr Sinodinos told the Committee for Economic Developmen­t of Australia economic and political outlook 2021 conference.

One of President Biden’s first actions was to rejoin the Paris Agreement on climate change and to confirm a zero-emissions target by 2050.

Asked if this would put additional pressure on Australia to follow suit, Mr Sinodinos said there was no doubt this would be taken into account when forming domestic policy.

But he said the Australian Government was arguing that targets were one thing, getting there was another.

Mr Biden is due to hold a climate leaders’ summit on April 22.

The ambassador was asked whether Prime Minister Scott Morrison had been invited.

‘‘Look, we haven’t see the invite list as yet. But if you want to influence countries to do something, you invite them to come,’’ he said.

Mr Sinodinos said Australia already had a good relationsh­ip with the US, founded on deep historical ties, common heritage, trade investment relationsh­ips and shared values and interest.

‘‘We did well under the previous administra­tion compared to many other countries, but there is plenty of scope to deepen bilateral engagement and encourage the commitment to the Indo-Pacific.’’

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