Media release

9 October 2019

The Morrison Government welcomes the release of the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT) report that recommends the Parliament move to ratify free trade agreements with Indonesia and Hong Kong.

Trade Minister Simon Birmingham welcomed the support of JSCOT, business and stakeholders to ratify the Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (IA-CEPA) and the Australia-Hong Kong Free Trade Agreement.

“This report confirms that the ratification of these agreements will enhance export opportunities and deliver significant benefits for Australian farmers and businesses,” Minister Birmingham said

“I welcome the Committee’s acknowledgement that ‘the treaty actions in the Report represent substantial gains for Australian industry, agriculture and businesses, and therefore the Australian economy.’

“With Indonesia being one the fastest growing economies in the world, this agreement would further strengthen our economic ties and provide a major boost for Australian farmers — with producers of grains, beef, dairy and horticulture, and many other products all set to benefit from lower tariffs and improved access to Indonesian markets.

“The Australia-Hong Kong Free Trade Agreement and the accompanying Investment Agreement would further advance our important economic and trade interests in Hong Kong, while also supporting the ‘One Country, Two Systems’ framework, which has long underpinned Hong Kong’s success.

“Ratification of these agreements would build on the success our Government has had in growing Australian exports to record levels and delivering record trade surpluses that are making a major contribution to our economy and to creating more Australian jobs.

“These free trade deals also send a positive signal that Australia supports an open, global, and rules-based trading system — a message that is more important than ever before given the current global trade headwinds.

“We will now move to introduce the enabling legislation for these agreements, along with our trade agreement with Peru, so Australia exporters can start to reap the benefits from the greater export opportunities that will be unlocked.

“I urge my parliamentary colleagues to help deliver the benefits of these trade agreements by passing the enabling legislation as soon as possible.

“If Labor are genuine in their arguments that Australia should defend the rules based trading system, engage more deeply with Indonesia and diversify our export markets then they should support the legislation required to implement these agreements, which deliver against all of those objectives.”

Industry groups such as National Farmers Federation, Australian Grape and Wine, Meat and Livestock Association, TAFE Directors, Business Council of Australia, Minerals Council of Australia, Pork Australia, CaneGrowers, Australian Industry Group, Citrus Australia and the Australian Meat Industry Council have all endorsed these agreements and the benefits they will bring for Australian exporters, workers and the economy.

The Governments of Hong Kong and Peru have already completed their ratification procedures, with the Indonesian Government continuing to work through its domestic treaty-making processes.

The full JSCOT report can be at: