Steve Ciobo hopeful Justin Trudeau will change mind on TPP

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Malcolm Turnbull says he and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe are committed to securing the Trans-Pacific partnership, despite an absence of support from the US Canada, as he prepares to travel to Japan this evening for annual talks with Mr Abe.”

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Will Justin Trudeau change mind on TPP?

The Prime Minister’s comments came after Trade Minister Steve Ciobo said he was hopeful that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau would change his mind on being part of the TPP.

Talks over the TPP, which has been abandoned by US President Donald Trump, stalled in November when Mr Trudeau refused to sign up to it during talks in Da Nang, Vietnam.

Mr Turnbull said Australia’s strategic partnership with Japan was more important than ever.

“We are now on the third anniversary of the Japan-Australia free trade agreement, and it is seeing continued growth in investment in Australia, from Japan, in Japan from Australia,” he said.

“We are committed to opening up more opportunities for Australian exporters to get into more markets and Shinzo Abe and I are absolutely committed to ensuring that the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the big free trade agreement, that regrettably the US pulled out of after the change of administration, we are committed to that continuing and we are working very hard.” “We want to make sure that there are more opportunities, for more Australian businesses, whether they are in agriculture, whether they are exporting wool or meat or wheat, or whether they are exporting the latest carbon fibre products developed at Deakin University, we want to make sure there are more opportunities for them to get into those markets.”

Mr Trudeau refused to sign up to it during talks in Da Nang, Vietnam in November, 2017 (via GQ.com)

Mr Turnbull said the security threat posed by North Korea would also be prioritised in the talks.

“Japan and Australia are absolutely united in our resolve to ensure that the global community brings the strongest pressure to bear on North Korea, the strongest economic sanctions to bear on North Korea, to ensure that that regime comes to its senses and stops its threatening and reckless conduct,” he said.

“And so, I have to say that those economic sanctions are starting to bite. It’s been wonderful to see the support of China, the US, Russia, all of the UN Security Council countries, and the whole global community in tightening those economic sanctions.

“That is our best prospect to achieve a peaceful resolution of the issues on the Korean Peninsula in the near term. It is absolutely critical that we get that, maintain that economic pressure.”

Ciobo hopeful Trudeau will change his mind on TPP

The Australian revealed today that Australia has launched formal action with the World Trade Organisation targeting Canada over a trade dispute involving Australian wine products, but Mr Ciobo said the issue was separate from the TPP

“These are unrelated events. The fact is that we have continued to see an erosion of, for lack of a better term, liberalised market access into Canada that’s putting Australian wine exporters on the back foot compared to other competitor countries and in particular compared to domestic Canadian wine producers. That’s an unacceptable outcome,” he told ABC radio.

Mr Ciobo said the TPP would be high on the agenda in Japan.

“It’s high, because the TPP, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, is a very important regional trade deal if we can get it up,” he said.

“Australia as you know has been pushing this strongly together with other countries including Japan.

“We are very focused on the benefits that will flow to Aussie exporters as a consequence of putting the TPP into effect.

“We got very close in Da Nang, Vietnam, at the leaders meeting there, and I remain actually quite optimistic that we should be able to, I hope, secure agreement on the TPP in the very near future.”

Steve Ciobo hopeful Justin Trudeau will change mind on TPP (via Photo gallery)

Asked whether it was futile to persevere with the TPP given Canada and the US have walked away, Mr Ciobo said it was incorrect to characterise Canada as walking away.

“Certainly Prime Minister Trudeau didn’t sign up to it in Vietnam. That was disappointing,” he said, adding that he hoped that Mr Trudeau would change his mind.

“Certainly I and others have been putting forward what we believe are compelling reasons why Canada should be at the table,” Mr Ciobo said.

“We believe that having effectively got an agreement in place now, there’s only a couple of outstanding matters.

“I’m hopeful that the work that our officials are doing, that ministers are undertaking with each other, that we can get Canada to the start line, so to speak, or perhaps a better phrase is get them to the finish line in the not too distant future.”

Mr Ciobo said he was not worried that the dispute over Australian wine would have an effect on the TPP.

“International trade is consistently filled with the various positions that countries adopt in a range of different areas,” he said.

“Australia is sometimes on the receiving end and sometimes we’re on the offensive end.

“In this case, we’ve got a number of provinces in Canada that are putting in place pro-protectionist policies, and I’m not going to stand by and see Aussie exporters jeopardised, or have their sales put in jeopardy, and I want to make sure we stand up for what are our legitimate rights in the WTO.”

Mr Ciobo also said he was hopeful of reaching a free-trade agreement with India, with talks to resume as soon as next week.

“We saw a reshuffle in India around the middle of last year,” he said.

“I had conversations with (Indian Commerce & Industry) Minister (Suresh) Prabhu at the time, who indicated he wanted some time to be able to get his feet under the desk and in many respects cast fresh eyes over what it was that India and Australia are trying to achieve together.

“I of course respect that, and he and I have agreed to re-engage on these discussions early this year, and I hope to have discussions with him next week.”

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