Despite the backlash against globalisation and trade and a greater move towards protectionism in movements such as Brexit, the election of Donald Trump and America withdrawing from the TPP, federal Trade Minister, Steven Ciobo is still confident that Australians still support the pursuit of free-trade agreements.
“Australia is an exporting nation, It is a fundamental driver of the Australian economy. I think Australians fundamentally get that as a trading nation our economic strength is derived from our ability to trade.”
He is confident that Trumps statements on trade, especially threats to use tariffs, were not part of an anti-trade agenda, but rather a “president…seeking too pursue policies that are good for America and its workers.”
Even though the Productivity Commission, and others have called for an independent public assessment and inquiry into the benefits of free trade agreements, Mr Ciobo believes current processes are sufficient and pointed to a list of 7000 Australian exports have enjoyed lower tariffs since New Year’s Day in China and Korea as proof of the benefits of free trade deals.
Furthermore, while Brexit-Britain’s exit from the EU may be seen as a push back against free Trade, Mr Ciobo believes that Brexit was a very strong pro-trade movement, citing the May government’s intention that they “want to be a beacon for trade,” and evidenced by the preliminary discussions between the Australian and British governments following Britain’s vote to leave the EU