ASSISTANT trade minister Keith Pitt said anti-trade rhetoric needed to be nipped in the bud and it was imperative to ensure trade is appreciated as a cornerstone of the Australian economy.
Speaking at the CBFCA annual national conference today (October 27) on the Gold Coast, Mr Pitt said that one in five jobs in Australia is connected to trade.
“There are people out there who don’t actually appreciate the value of trade,” he said.
“It is just an absolute disgrace for people to be out there advocating this nation does not trade – it is just ludicrous.”
He went on, pointing out that two-way trade was worth about $700bn to Australia.
“Can you imagine what would happen to our economy if we lost trade?” he asked.
“It would be appalling and absolutely devastating. We are a trading nation – for us trade means jobs, and more trade means more jobs.”
Mr Pitt said ports were particularly important in the trade chain.
“The efficient movement of cargo through Australian ports increases the benefits of trade,” he said.
“That does mean more economic growth and more jobs because Australia needs to get its exports into overseas markets quickly and efficiently.
“Australia wins when imports travel smoothly into Australian markets delivering good value products for Australian businesses and households.”
The assistant minister spoke about Australia’s current and future free trade agreements, saying he expected a major announcement “before Christmas”.
Mr Pitt said free trade agreements provide a framework for ongoing negotiations about non-tariff barriers to trade outside of the channels in the World Trade Organization.
“But bilateral trade agreements cannot fix non-tariff issues by themselves, but they give us a forum to talk, to put those issues in front of the other side,” he said.
“We use these contacts to address problems and ensure the agreements are working as well as we can possibly manage.”
Ian Ackerman is on location at the CBFCA National Conference, which is being held on the Gold Coast from 26-28 October.