CCIWA has commended the release of the Commonwealth Government’s 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper, the first comprehensive review of Australia’s international engagement for 14 years.

CCI Chief Executive Deidre Willmott says the paper will play a significant role in boosting WA’s economic growth and trade relations.

She says our state’s prosperity is underpinned by stability in the Asia-Pacific region and a strategic commitment to an open global economy and the international rule of law.

“The commitment by the Government to trade liberalisation and free markets is welcome news to businesses that have been concerned about the state of domestic and global politics and Australia’s place in a globalised economy,” Wilmott says.

“It is vital that Australia stays true to our free trade principles. As an export-driven economy that relies on exports for prosperity, free trade must remain the key to strengthening our economy for future generations.”

According to the White Paper, $337 billion in export income was injected into the Australian economy in 2016, while one in five jobs rely on trade, and one in seven jobs rely on exports.

“We know that demand from Asia for minerals and energy, including LNG, coal, iron ore, gold, alumina, copper, nickel and zinc will continue, as well as their need for premium agriculture products,” Wilmott says.

“With WA now accounting for more than 40 per cent of Australia’s merchandise exports, and our agriculture and food sector making up 10 per cent of the state’s economy and employing more than 30,000 people, it is clear that WA is best positioned to meet this demand.

“If China is successful in implementing its one-belt one-road policy, the state will also be well placed to take advantage of this export opportunity which will drive significant infrastructure investment in our region.”

She says it is critical the Government follows through with its strategy of having the lowest possible barriers to trade and investment, including through modern free trade agreements, and continues to work with both business and state governments to capitalise on the economic and job-boosting opportunities that Asia’s growth presents.

The White Paper’s fundamental objectives are to:

  • Work to keep our Indo-Pacific region secure, open and prosperous
  • Fight protectionism, and implement policies that help Australians take advantage of the benefits of an open, competitive economy
  • Ensure Australians remain safe, secure and free in the face of threats like terrorism
  • Promote a world with fair rules and strong cooperation to ensure the rights of all states are respected.

To achieve these objectives the Government will:

  • Host an ASEAN-Australia Special Summit in 2018, increase investments in regional maritime security capacity-building, and build stronger bilateral ties
  • Extend ‘step up’ in the Pacific on economic and security issues, including by establishing with our Pacific partners a new Australian Pacific Security College to deliver security and law enforcement training at the leadership level
  • Establish a new civilian deployment programme, Australia Assists, which will deploy over 100 humanitarian specialists each year to countries and communities affected by disasters
  • Extend network of FTAs to cover more partners, including to ensure by 2020 there are FTAs with countries that account for 80 per cent of our trade (currently at 64 per cent)
  • Implement a non-tariff measures strategy to better identify these barriers to trade for Australian businesses and respond to them
  • Develop a stronger “nation brand” to market our commercial, educational and cultural credentials in a competitive global market.

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