BIPARTISAN SUPPORT FOR TRADE WILL BOOST GROWTH PROSPECTS

The Minerals Council of Australia welcomes the federal Opposition’s commitment to pursuing high-quality free trade agreements, including the long-term goal of an Asia-Pacific free trade area.

Australia has long been a trading nation and continuing to free up trade and investment flows will contribute to higher economic growth, better living standards and job creation into the future.

The shadow Trade and Investment Minister, Jason Clare’s support for the mooted Free Trade Agreement of the Asia-Pacific – which would include the United States and China – is a strong statement of support for the process of regional economic cooperation which has been so beneficial for Australia.

His announcement of measures to improve the input of business and other stakeholders into trade negotiations will also help ensure Australia secures high-quality trade deals into the future.

The resources sector is Australia’s largest export earner. In 2016-17 alone, resources exports generated $198 billion, or 53 per cent of the value of all Australia’s exports.  

Australia’s comparative advantage in resources supports approximately 230,000 people in high-wage, high-skilled jobs – nearly three times more than in 2000.

And the Productivity Commission has argued that Australia’s resources regions are ‘likely to provide economic and employment opportunities for decades to come.’[1]

The minerals industry strongly supports new regional trade agreements to further reduce tariffs and non-tariff barriers to Australia’s minerals commodity exports.

Trade liberalisation can also open up outward investment opportunities for Australian mining companies and create new markets for Australia’s burgeoning mining equipment, technology and services (METS) sector.

Freeing up trade in services should be a key priority in future negotiations as it will allow Australia’s innovative METS firms to leverage their expertise in emerging markets in the Asia-Pacific region.

Bipartisan political support for free trade is critical for ensuring our economy continues to gain access to export markets.

This bipartisan support reflects public sentiment in Australia which is overwhelmingly in favour of free trade and global economic engagement. 

This year’s Lowy Institute poll found 78 per cent of Australians believe globalisation is good for the country while more than two-thirds said free trade was good for their own living standards and for the economy. 

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[1] Productivity Commission, Transitioning Regional Economics: Initial Report, 20 April 2017, p. 18.

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