Minister for Trade and Investment, Andrew Robb AO, has delivered the keynote address at the 2014 Australian APEC Study Centre lecture.
The Australian APEC Study Centre at RMIT's College of Business promotes the nation's and the University's strategic, economic, social and educational objectives throughout the Asia-Pacific region.
At its annual lecture, Mr Robb introduced Sir Rod Eddington AO, the new APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) member for Australia.
Chosen by the Prime Minister, Sir Eddington is the most recent of the three elected ABAC representatives selected to represent Australia's business needs in APEC.
Mr Robb spoke about the important relationship between the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum and the Commonwealth Government, explaining that APEC had played an integral role in Australia's economic story over the past 25 years.
"Our leadership on free trade has made APEC the region's go-to organisation for the promotion of freer trade and economic cooperation," he said.
"It has helped create the environment that we enjoy today – one where Australia can conclude significant trade agreements with North Asian economic giants like Japan and Korea.
"This government's primary message is that Australia is 'open for business' and that's exactly what APEC is all about."
Mr Robb said his government was making good progress in regards to regional free trade agreements, emphasising a recent agreement with China and the completion of talks with the other 12 Asia-Pacific countries that make up those partnering in the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP).
More than 100 people attended the 2014 Australian APEC Study Centre lecture. Photo: Vicki Jones Photography.
"We are pursuing a plurilateral agreement with the Gulf Cooperation Council, bilateral agreements with Indonesia and India and work is also being done to scope opportunities with the European Union," he said.
Mr Robb also placed an emphasis on the need for efficiency building through regulation reviews, anti-competitive tax removal (carbon and mining taxes) and designing a more streamlined approval process for major projects.
He went on to discuss higher education, in particular, the New Colombo Plan, which is being piloted in 2014.
The plan will involve 40 mobility grants being provided to Australian undergraduate students who are undertaking study and work placements in the Asian region.
The lecture was held at the State Library of Victoria last month and attended by distinguished guests from business, government and academia, including representatives from the Chilean Consulate, US Consulate, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, State Government of Victoria, and the New Zealand High Commission.
The Australian APEC Study Centre at RMIT is a leading centre in the Asia-Pacific region for the advocacy of APEC's objectives of promoting open trade and investment, structural reform and regional integration through training programs, supporting institutional capacity building, symposia, dialogues and publications.
It also manages training programs, conferences and symposia on issues related to the vision of APEC.
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