MEDIA RELEASE

DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND TRADE
AUSTRALIA

D25

22 November 1999

Seattle - Australia's Best Chance For Opening Export Markets

(As Issued By The National Press Club, 19 Nov 99)

Trade Minister, Mark Vaile, will deliver a National Press Club Telstra Address in Canberra next Friday, 26 November, where he will outline Australia's game plan for negotiations at the World Trade Organisation Ministerial meeting in Seattle next week.

Minister Vaile will explain the economic importance of the meeting and the need for a successful launch of a new round of trade negotiations from Seattle.

"There are three compelling reasons why I believe Trade Ministers will launch a new round of negotiations to liberalise trade further and to improve trade rules.

"First, the potential benefits are enormous. Work commissioned by my Department estimates the global welfare gains from halving trade barriers at around $US400 billion annually, including a gain of $A7.5 billion a year to Australia.

"Second, the services and agriculture negotiations already mandated to take place are not enough. WTO Members will need a package of benefits large enough to persuade them to make concessions in difficult areas. So negotiations on industrial goods should parallel those on agriculture and services.

"Third, a new round would help governments avoid backsliding on market access commitments. Protectionist sentiment is growing, as Australia knows only too well from US actions against our lamb exports. The most effective way to counter those pressures is to keep global trade reform moving forward by launching a round."

"Australia, along with the Cairns Group of agricultural fair traders will be fighting hard in Seattle to ensure that agriculture is put on the same trade footing as other industries."

Media Contact: Mr Vaile's Office Bruce Mills 02 6277 7420

National Press Club Frank Crews 02 6273 3644