Australia Trade deals expected to pass parliament

05:41  25 november  2019
05:41  25 november  2019 Source:   msn.com

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Australian Trade Minister Simon Birmingham© AAP Image/Lukas Coch Australian Trade Minister Simon Birmingham Australian farmers and small businesses could be reaping the benefits from new free trade deals as early as next year.

Legislation enacting trade deals with Indonesia, Hong Kong and Peru is expected to pass parliament late on Monday.

Trade Minister Simon Birmingham says the deals will lead to better access to those growing markets for Australian farmers and steelmakers, and in the exchange of services and businesses.

"This is a huge opportunity for Australian farmers and businesses to be able to benefit," he told reporters in Canberra.

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He anticipates the deals coming into force in the first half of next year.

Labor backs the agreements despite opposition from unions concerned about the ability for companies to bring in cheap labour.

The opposition's Senate leader Penny Wong said trade deals ultimately helped workers through boosting economic growth, improving productivity and creating better jobs.

"There are some in our movement who believe that trade protectionism, such as tariffs on imports, supports local jobs," she told parliament.

But tariffs led to higher prices and uncompetitive industries, she said.

"Australia cannot afford to mimic the America-first approach which paradoxically risks America's leadership in the world.

"I support trade not despite being a progressive but because I am progressive."

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Senator Birmingham said unions and other critics should look at the lived experience of deals struck in recent years.

"Australian exports are at record levels, those exports are fuelling jobs in Australia and the reality is that those exports have grown particularly fast in markets like Korea, Japan, China, member of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, because of the trade agreements we've struck," he said.

One Nation leader Pauline Hanson is angry about what she sees as the rubber-stamping of the trade agreements.

"So we're bringing in workers from overseas and you think I'm going to rubber-stamp that? I'm not," she told reporters.

The Electrical Trades Union has decided to pull its funding from Labor over its support for the trade deals.

ACTU president Michele O'Neil said she could understand the ETU's anger and unions were democratic bodies that followed the will of their members.

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