Monday, April 7, 2014

Tony Abbott hedging Australia's allies in Asia

Tony Abbott has secured a historic trade deal with Japan worth tens of billions of dollars to the Australian economy over the next 20 years.

The deal will free up exports of dairy, beef, wine, and a range of services, while also making Japanese cars, cameras, televisions and other high-tech goods cheaper in Australia.

Trade Minister Andrew Robb confirmed the deal in the Japanese capital on Monday afternoon, and Mr Abbott is expected to shake hands with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday evening in Tokyo.

It will then be subject to "lawyering" on both sides and must clear the hurdles of final parliamentary approval.


The hard-fought deal came at the end of seven years of negotiations, with the final six months proving "extremely rigorous" according to officials.

Mr Robb, who handled much of the hard grind of negotiations with his Japanese counterpart, Minister Hayashi, said he was honoured to be part of the agreement.

"After seven long years of negotiation, this historic agreement has been concluded," he said in the Japanese Capital on Monday afternoon.

"It's been, especially the last six months, it's been a very tough negotiation but it's been conducted with a lot of goodwill on both sides.

"It is an agreement which is a historic one in its extent of liberalisation that Japan has concede to. It will benefit greatly Australian businesses, Australian jobs and Australian consumers, with cuts in car prices of up to $1500 on the average car.

"I dont want to pre-empt the formal conclusion of this negotiation by our two prime ministers in a short while, but just want to say what an honour it is to be involved in this historic agreement.

"It builds on the trade treaty of 1957 which was the foundation for so much of our great relationship, our great business and cultural relationship since then and it will take that relationship to another level."

While details have not yet been released, trade officials say it represents the best deal ever granted by the giant Japanese economy to another nation.

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