26 Mar

'Ciobo intent on securing more trade deals for Australia' Geoff Chambers, The Australian

Trade Minister Steve Ciobo is aggressively pursuing free-trade agreements with Britain and the EU, using a visit to London to argue against the rise of protectionism.

Amid threats of a US-China trade war, Mr Ciobo said it was critical that barriers between nations were knocked down to open up opportunities in new markets.

“Protectionism cannot win. We must push to break down trade barriers and open up new markets. Australia is a trading nation — we sell what we do, make and create to the world,” Mr Ciobo said.

Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce yesterday warned that a trade war could have a “dampening effect” on economic growth around the world.

Mr Joyce’s comments came amid the fallout of Donald Trump’s tariffs and a potential trade war, with fears Australia would be caught in the crossfire.

“What’s happened in the United States on the tax rate and on the deregulation has been phenomenal for the economy there. We see really good growth,” Mr Joyce said.

“But what Trump is doing now, essentially with the trade war, I think has everybody worried. That could have a dampening effect on economic growth around the globe.”

Mr Joyce said it was too early to say what effect the trade war would have, and that China’s response would be crucial.

After signing the revamped Trans-Pacific Partnership deal in Chile this month, Mr Ciobo travelled to London to meet Britain’s Secretary of State for International Trade, Liam Fox, and Secretary for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Michael Gove.

Mr Ciobo said he would discuss the trade and agriculture opportunities presented by Brexit.

“Australia and the UK share fundamental objectives when it comes to trade — to resist protectionism and advocate for a global economy that promotes economic growth and creates jobs for our citizens,” he said.

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