Doorstop – Sydney – Saturday, 21 January 2017



SUBJECT/S: Trans-Pacific Partnership

JASON CLARE, SHADOW MINISTER FOR TRADE AND INVESTMENT, SHADOW MINISTER FOR RESOURCES AND NORTHERN AUSTRALIA: Well this morning Donald Trump was sworn in as the President of the United States. Can I take this opportunity to congratulate President Trump on reaching this very high office. Can I also congratulate President Obama on his eight years of service, to both the United States and to the entire world.

This morning, shortly after President Trump was sworn in, the Whitehouse website was updated to make clear that President Trump will withdraw the United States from the TPP.

The way the TPP works is without the United States it doesn’t come into effect and that means that the TPP is dead and Donald Trump has killed it.

Earlier this week Malcolm Turnbull said that his big economic plan for this year was to introduce legislation to implement the TPP. Now I said earlier in the week that would be a waste of time because Donald Trump has made clear that he will not implement the TPP and therefore there is no TPP.

Throughout the week Malcolm Turnbull has said that he can convince Donald Trump to change his mind. Well now it’s clear that he can’t and it’s about time that Malcolm Turnbull took the hint. The TPP is dead and Donald Trump has killed it.

Instead of focusing on a dead agreement, Malcolm Turnbull should focus on trying to sign Australia up to real trade deals that will create real jobs for Australians.

At a time where unemployment is going up and economic growth is going down, we need this government to provide Australia with real economic leadership and to sign Australia up to trade agreements that are going to create real jobs, not dead agreements that won’t.

Happy to take questions.

JOURNALIST: So what sort of agreements are you talking about? Let’s get specific here. Are you saying sign up with all the twelve countries that the TPP involved?

CLARE: There are a couple of agreements that the government should be focused on. They said they would have a free trade agreement with India signed over a year ago and we’re still waiting. They should focus on that agreement. They’ve also promised to sign up Australia to a free trade agreement with Indonesia and they should focus on finalising that deal. Indonesia is our next door neighbour, it has a population of a quarter of a billion, it will be one of the biggest economies in the world by the middle of this century and trade with Indonesia is massively underdone at the moment.

The other eleven countries that are part of the TPP might decide to sign up to an alternative agreement. Now if they do we need to know what the economic benefit of that would be for Australia. The Minister has already said that without the United States it would not be as beneficial for Australia. It would materially affect the agreement. I’ve asked the government for the economic modelling that they’ve done, to tell us what the benefit of an agreement would be without the United States, and they’ve now told me that they haven’t done any modelling. So we don’t know how beneficial that would be.

Another agreement that the government should focus on is a regional trade agreement with China, India, Japan and the ASEAN countries, another regional trade agreement for the Asia-Pacific area called RCEP. The government is working on that and they need to work on concluding that agreement this year given the TPP is now dead.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull hasn’t made any comments since the announcement that Trump wasn’t signing the TPP. What do you think that says as the leader of the country?

CLARE: Well I think that Malcolm Turnbull should finally get it. He should finally understand that the TPP is dead and nothing he can say to Donald Trump is going to change Donald Trump’s mind. Malcolm Turnbull now needs to provide real economic leadership to Australia. We’ve got unemployment going up, we’ve got economic growth going down, and his big plan for Australia is to sign us up to a dead trade agreement. What he should be doing is focusing on signing Australia up to real trade agreements that will create real jobs, not a dead agreement that won’t.

JOURNALIST: So is this a new era for Australia now, where potentially under President Trump Australia enters, America enters more of an isolationist policy maybe trade wise and maybe Australia has to conduct itself without America as it has in the past? And what does Labor think about that?

CLARE: We’ll have to wait and see what agreements Donald Trump signs the United States up to. He’s made it clear that he’s focused on bilateral trade agreements. We need to look after Australia’s national interest. We need to take steps to sign Australia up to agreements that are going to create jobs and create new businesses here in Australia. The TPP is dead so we need to look at other opportunities and they include Indonesia, India, Europe, the UK in the future as well as that regional trade agreement called RCEP.

JOURNALIST: Has the Labor Party or Mr Shorten, have they created any links with President Trump or had any communication with him?

CLARE: We have made the point that we congratulate Donald Trump on becoming President of the United States and we wish him well.

JOURNALIST: But in terms of building a relationship with him, as the alternative party of government?

CLARE: The United States is one of Australia’s strongest allies and best friends in the world. It doesn’t matter who the Prime Minister of Australia is or who the President of the United States is, we’re always going to be strong mates and have each other’s back. With President Trump now taking on that high office, we can expect that Australia is going to continue to work very closely with the United States. We’re not always going to agree and where one side decides to do something that we don’t support we should say that. President Trump has made it clear that he doesn’t support the TPP, that means the TPP is dead, so Australia has to look for new opportunities in our region.