APEC summit: Turnbull announces trade agreement with Peru
Danang, Vietnam: Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced a new trade agreement with Peru, one of the world’s fastest growing economies, shortly after arriving at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in the Vietnamese coastal city of Danang.
As tensions escalate with Opposition Leader Bill Shorten over the citizenship crisis at home, Mr Turnbull turned to trade, saying he will be urging 20 other APEC member countries to embrace trade and turn their backs on protectionism.
“The region cannot close the door to the flow of goods, services, capital and ideas,” he said.
Malcolm Turnbull arrived in Vietnam for the APEC summit as the dual citizenship fiasco continues to simmer at home. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
US President Donald Trump is scheduled to make a speech at the summit late on Friday. It will be carefully examined for clues as to how his “America first” mantra, which has included rolling back trade deals, will guide US engagement in Pacific Rim countries.
Mr Turnbull told reporters a revival of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) by 11 countries, including , would bring together economies with a collective GDP of about $10 trillion, despite Mr Trump abandoning the agreement days after taking office.
“Free trade means more jobs, more prosperity in ,” he said. “That’s why we back it so strongly.”
But talks on the TPP on the sidelines of APEC have reached a critical point with prospects for an agreement here uncertain.
“We’ve got more work to do but we are inching closer to an agreement so I remain very hopeful,” ‘s Trade Minister Steven Ciobo told reporters.
Japan has been lobbying hard for a quick agreement but Canada, New Zealand and Malaysia appear less enthusiastic to hurry.
The Peru agreement, negotiated over only five months, will generate more exports, including for farmers who have been effectively shut out of the Peru market.
It will eliminate 99 per cent of tariffs facing those that export to the country.
There will be immediate duty free access for n sheep, kangaroo meat, most wine and most horticulture products, including wheat.
Mr Ciobo said that concluding the agreement at APEC sends an important message to the world that ” embraces trade because we know it creates jobs and drives economic growth”.
“The agreement levels the playing field for Aussie farmers,” he said, adding that beef farmers will have tariff-free access within five years, putting them on a par with US beef farmers.
Peru’s GDP is similar to that of Vietnam and its population is similar to Malaysia.
Arriving in Danang, reporters asked Mr Turnbull if he will try to wrestle to the ground some kind of agreement with Mr Shorten over the citizenship crisis while on a five-day trip to Vietnam, Hong Kong and the Philippines.
“Well, multi-tasking is the occupational objective of prime ministers,” he said.
Mr Shorten has sought an agreement from Mr Turnbull that there should be no partisan referrals of MPs to the High Court.
“I will be very clear about this – we will refer to the High Court anybody, whether they are on the government side, the Labor side or the crossbenches, if there are substantial grounds to believe they are not in compliance with the Constitution,” Mr Turnbull said.
“To ask me to do anything else is quite unworthy.”