A MINISTERIAL Advisory Committee is to be established to guide the federal government’s free trade agenda, it has been announced.

The announcement was part of a joint statement from trade minister Simon Birmingham and assistant trade minister Andrew Gee.

Senator Birmingham said the MAC would form an important part of the Morrison government’s commitment to enhancing transparency around FTA negotiations.

“This forum brings together a broad cross-section of business, industry and community representatives with trade expertise to help inform Australia’s negotiations and policies going forward,” Senator Birmingham said.

“Our commitment to free trade and open markets continues to play a major role in our strong position that has seen Australia record 28 consecutive monthly trade surplus in a row.

“With our free trade agreement negotiations with the UK starting, and our ongoing negotiations with the EU, this forum will provide an important opportunity to hear the views of experts from industry and consumer groups.

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“The MAC will also build on existing consultative processes for our FTA’s which includes ongoing stakeholder engagement programs, complementing the important work of the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties.”

Mr Gee said the establishment of the MAC would help inform the government’s work to deliver free trade agreements for Australian farmers and businesses.

“In these challenging times, it is critical that Australian exporters, especially those impacted by the recent drought and bushfires, take full advantage of the opportunities available under these FTAs,” he said.

“At the same time, we must draw upon our business community and their diverse perspectives.

“The MAC will provide a mechanism that enables us to build upon and strengthen our engagement with a range of businesses and community leaders, stretching from the cities to our country towns, to ensure that all Australians no matter where they live benefit from our growing FTA agenda,” Minister Gee said.

Minister Birmingham and prominent business figure Christine Holgate are to co-chair the committee, with the first meeting to be held next month. Meetings are to be held twice a year.

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