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OUTPUT 1.3: Services to other agencies in Australia and overseas (including Parliament, state representatives, business and other organisations)

Reporting against effectiveness indicators

On this page: Overview :: Parliament in Australia :: Services to attached agencies :: Services to business :: Services to state governments and other agencies overseas and in Australia

1.3.1 PARLIAMENT IN AUSTRALIA

1.3.2 SERVICES TO ATTACHED AGENCIES

1.3.3 SERVICES TO BUSINESS

1.3.4 SERVICES TO STATE GOVERNMENTS AND OTHER AGENCIES OVERSEAS AND IN AUSTRALIA

Overview

Much of the department's work in providing whole-of-government services to the Government and the Australian community is directed towards protecting and advancing Australia's national interests as reported in output 1.1. Our work on behalf of Commonwealth parliamentarians, state and territory governments, business and other agencies frequently involves the same approach and includes:

Parliament in Australia

The department helped arrange 130 overseas visits programs for individual Members of Parliament and Senators and for parliamentary delegations. These visits allowed dialogue with other parliaments on a range of important issues, helped establish links and strengthened relations between the Australian Parliament and parliaments of other countries. They also provided opportunities for study and observation of developments in a wide variety of fields relevant to the interests of the Australian community.

The support we provided included program suggestions and guidance on in-country travel; identifying and making appointments with key people in specific fields of interest; and providing written and oral background briefings on foreign and trade policy matters related to the visits.

The department also assisted with 14 visits to Australia by presiding officers, committees and delegations from parliaments of other countries.

To raise awareness of our work and help parliamentarians respond to constituents on related issues, we developed and distributed to all Members and Senators a kit containing information on the department and our services to parliament. Feedback on the initiative and the material was strongly positive.

Our work for the Parliament included assisting:

The department coordinated, on a whole-of-government basis, briefing on treaties and treaty action prepared for the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties. Our briefings to and appearances before a range of parliamentary committees are outlined in Appendix 6.

In response to requests from individual Members and Senators the department also provided 25 written and oral briefings on foreign and trade policy issues of specific interest.

Services to attached agencies

The department provided common administrative services to Australian Government agencies overseas under the Service Level Agreement (SLA).

The SLA facilitates efficient administration of Australian Government business overseas while avoiding operational and financial duplication. Services provided under the SLA, on a user-pays basis, include management services, financial services, office services, property services and communications for both Australia-based employees and locally engaged staff. Feedback from our SLA clients is reported on page 113.

Austrade is not a signatory to the SLA and receives common administrative services from the department in accordance with a bilateral memorandum of understanding (MOU). Under the MOU, Austrade posts have the option of receiving either the full range of services, as per the SLA, or essential services only.

Services to business

The department extends a wide range of services to business, including providing tactical advice and analysis, using our network to facilitate contacts between Australian and overseas business, and coordinating integrated promotions of Australian capabilities overseas.

We maintain close consultation with the Australian business community (as well as state and territory governments, non-government organisations and community groups) in coordinating, developing and advancing trade policy and objectives. Advice from the business community and other parties on barriers or impediments to accessing new or existing markets is crucial to developing the Government's trade negotiating strategy and for building a strong export sector. For example, we sought comment from business on our approach to the World Trade Organization (WTO) Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations and the free trade agreement negotiations with the United States, Singapore and Thailand. See sub-outputs 1.1.5 and 1.1.6 for more information.

Market information and analysis

The department continued to operate a consultancy service providing statistical information and advice, on a fee-for-service basis, for Australian businesses and researchers interested in overseas markets. The service specialises in trade and economic data—covering exports and imports with over 220 partner countries (including cross-classification by commodity and industry), and information about the international trade of more than 100 countries. See quantity information on page 173 for more detail.

APEC

The department worked in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum to improve the environment for Australian businesses operating in APEC economies. During 2002–03, agreement was reached on a number of trade facilitation initiatives, including:

Our active involvement in the APEC Business Advisory Council continued to provide a useful two-way mechanism through which the department could maximise the benefits of APEC's work for business, as well as communicate APEC's outcomes. We instigated regular interaction with targeted sectors of the business community to encourage greater support for and participation in APEC activities, including the legal profession, and the chemicals and pharmaceuticals industries.

APEC Business Forum

The department hosted the 2003 APEC Business Forum in Sydney on 7 April 2003. The forum brought together Mr Vaile, senior Australian business executives, industry associations, diplomats and senior officials from ten government agencies to discuss the threat that terrorism poses to trade and investment and APEC initiatives to respond to that threat.

Presenters included Dr Gerard Henderson, Executive Director, Sydney Institute; Margaret Jackson, Chairman, Qantas; Richard Hein, Chairman and Managing Director, P&O Australia Limited; Peter Hanenberger, Chairman and Managing Director, Holden; and Paul Kelly, Editor-at-Large, The Australian.

The forum agreed that:

A number of participants provided positive feedback on the high quality of the program and its direct relevance to Australian business.

Market access—processed foods

The department worked closely with industry, as well as state and Australian Government agencies to implement the Government's National Food Industry Strategy, particularly its objective to increase sustainably Australian food exports. A key task during the year was developing an integrated approach among industry and state and Australian governments on technical market access issues, trade development and promotion in the food sector. We helped food businesses with market access problems and consulted on their interests in the WTO Doha Round and in bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations. Industry welcomed our contribution of an information resource in the form of two more volumes in the series on agrifood globalisation and Asia, launched by Mr Vaile in August 2002.

Market access—information industries

The department continued its work to broaden market access for the information and communication technology sector. This included negotiating the e-commerce chapter of the Singapore–Australia FTA. We are also pursuing greater access and certainty for the sector in current negotiations for FTAs with the United States and with Thailand and for the Trade and Economic Framework with Japan. The department continued to contribute to e-commerce and online initiatives in the APEC context, such as paperless (electronic administration) trading, and to the development of memorandums of understanding on information industries and information technology with a number of trading partners.

Market access—textiles, clothing and footwear

The department continued to deliver benefits to the textiles, clothing and footwear (TCF) industries through strategic bilateral approaches to foreign governments. For example, our representations to India in late 2002 resulted in a reduction in India's basic tariff on apparel grade wool—these tariffs ranged from 15 to 30 per cent and were reduced to 5 per cent effective 1 March 2003. In Poland we achieved a waiver of the remaining 3 per cent basic tariff on non-European Union imports of high-quality furniture leather. These outcomes were the result of several years of effort and close government and industry collaboration.

In 2002, we represented Australia on the International Cotton Advisory Committee's working group on government measures, tasked with identifying effective strategies to reduce and eventually eliminate direct government assistance to cotton production and trade. We also led Australia's delegation to the committee's plenary meeting in Cairo. Committee members in Cairo endorsed the working group's final report, which made recommendations on how to advocate cotton trade reform in the WTO Doha Round.

We coordinated Australian industry participation to the 7th Asia-Pacific Textiles and Clothing Industry Forum (ASPAC) held in Taipei and once again chaired the meeting of the Natural Fibres Textile and Clothing Trade Facilitation Committee. We gained member country support to lead a working group looking at future arrangements for the ASPAC forums.

Our network

Our state and territory offices played an important role in engaging state and territory governments on the Government's trade policy agenda. This included facilitating access to information on and input to WTO and FTA negotiations, and ensuring state and territory governments were able to leverage the access and influence of our network of overseas missions. The offices facilitated contact with visiting foreign government and business representatives, and assisted with 119 overseas visits by premiers, chief ministers and senior state and territory ministers.

Our network of overseas posts provided support and advice to hundreds of Australian companies on the ground in countries around the world. This support included high-level representations to government; hospitality and support for events to promote Australian business, products or expertise; and advice on market conditions.

Services to state governments and other agencies overseas and in Australia

The department played a significant role preparing for and supporting visits overseas by state and territory ministers, parliamentarians and officials, Australian Government officials and others. Some examples include visits to:

Through our Torres Strait Island Office on Thursday Island, we provided particular support and practical assistance to a range of Australian and Queensland government agencies on matters relating to Australia's obligations under the Torres Strait Treaty.

We also provided briefings, policy advice and other support for a wide range of Australian Government agencies on international aspects of their respective agendas, activities and programs. This included helping to arrange visit programs; participating in negotiations on bilateral agreements and understandings; and facilitating and providing representation at international meetings. Some examples include:

Open Source Collection Unit

Through the Open Source Collection Unit, the department continued to provide translations and summaries of news from Indonesian and Pacific broadcast, print and Internet media to the Australian intelligence community, government departments and agencies and government departments and agencies of allied countries. The war against terrorism greatly increased demands on the unit's media monitoring services, particularly of the Indonesian language media. The unit was regularly commended by Australian and international customers, including government agencies, for its appropriate selection of relevant material and rapid response to regional developments.

 

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Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Annual Report 2002–2003
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