The Australian APEC Study Centre has hosted its annual lecture delivered by the Hon. Steven Ciobo MP, Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment.
Welcomed by RMIT Vice Chancellor and President, Martin Bean CBE, Minister Ciobo discussed APEC’s current agenda and provided updates on the status of various multilateral trade agreements including the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
He also shared stories of Australian exporters successfully utilising free trade agreements with China, Japan, Korea, Singapore and many of the Pacific Island nations.
“Take the example of Gapsted Wines…it has seen sales to China go from a couple of hundred cases a year two years ago, to over 10,000 cases this year…this is due in part to the privileged market access conditions that we achieved in the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement,” he said.
The Minister took the opportunity to discuss Australia’s response to the rise in global protectionism, reaffirming the Turnbull Government’s strong commitment to ‘economic openness’ placing significant importance on ‘maintaining the APEC forum and its long-standing commitment to free trade.’
“Australia’s annual GDP grew by 2.4 per cent last year – net exports made up more than half of this growth, contributing 1.4 percentage points,” Ciobo said.
“This statistic alone tells you how much our economy, and our standard of living, would be at risk from isolationist policies.
“With the Asia-Pacific region at the heart of Australia’s future prosperity, APEC will play a key role in carrying the torch for free and open markets.”
The Minister emphasised the importance of advocating for these ideals within the Australian business, academic and policy communities.
Alan Oxley, Chairman of the Australian APEC Study Centre, thanked Minster Ciobo for his informative presentation.
“It’s been very enlightening,” he said.
“I realise that the department is engaged in activities to try and get a wider understanding of the importance of these matters in the community, and I wish you the best of luck.”
The lecture was held at RMIT’s Design Hub and attended by distinguished guests from business, government and academia including senior members of the diplomatic corps.
The Australian APEC Study Centre, RMIT University 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.
Story: Ainslie Logsdon