Sky News with Kieran Gilbert

29 February 2024


Kieran Gilbert: Trade and Tourism Minister Don Farrell and the Assistant Minister for Trade Tim Ayres are Abu Dhabi leading Australia's delegation to the 13th World Trade Organization conference. Senator Tim Ayres joins me live now from Abu Dhabi. Assistant Minister, thanks for your time. The WTO has for some time try has said tried to achieve reform to its dispute resolution system. Has there been any progress made over recent days?

Senator Ayres: Yeah, we're making progress on that question, Kieran, about but of course, this is the final day. It's bright and early here in the morning in Abu Dhabi. This is the final day where trade ministers from around the world will be at the conference where these decisions can be made. It's my experience now that that all of these decisions end up being made on the final day as negotiations occur over the conference. So it's it's a bit bold to make predictions at this stage. But there's been good progress made on dispute resolution, which is the core reform issue that Australia and other and other partners around the world have been following through. It's important to explain I think, why this matters. Australia is, at its core, a trading country. Our capacity to be able to trade with the world, for outbound investment and inbound investment, really matters for our capacity as an economy to generate new jobs and to generate good jobs. One out of every five jobs that are generated in the economy are trade related. Workers who work in firms that trade with the world are paid a wage premium, significantly more than workers in the rest of the economy. So if we're going to be focused on creating good jobs in our outer suburbs and our regions, in particular, making sure that there's a fully-functioning, effective WTO is crucial to underpin all of that work.

Kieran: And speaking of trade disputes, your your senior counterpart, Don Farrell met with his Chinese colleague earlier in the year his Chinese trade counterpart and commerce minister, Wang Wentao, and he, Senator Farrell, suggested that the trade dispute on wine tariffs could be resolved within weeks. Bit of optimism there.

Senator Ayres: Well, we we are absolutely focused as a government on normalizing the relationship and and in particular, removing the last remaining trade impediments for Australian exports in China. So $20 billion worth of impediments, $18 billion removed. There is an agreed approach that that China is following, where they are conducting a review, it's very similar to the barley review. We expect that to conclude shortly, and expect that that China will follow through in the same way that they did on barley. There's it was an opportunity to reinforce that that is Australia's expectation in that meeting led by trade minister Don Farrell, and to, you know, once again, squarely put Australia's interests on the table in discussions with our largest trading partner.

Kieran: There's a great deal of uncertainty internationally, you got the ongoing conflict not far from where you are in the Middle East, Ukraine as well. What's the mood like among trade ministers, given the tensions and the instability around the world?

Senator Ayres: Well, I think that's what that's that is the larger point about the relevance of the World Trade Organization as, as there is conflict in too many places around the world. As, as there is more uncertainty in the global environment, global institutions really matter. And the World Trade Organization, and trade between nations is a core part of building peace and prosperity around the world. So the World Trade Organization matters in trade terms, but it also matters as a global institution in the rules-based order. There is that there is a strong sense around the room of solidarity with the Government of Ukraine, who are represented here. Australia facilitated Ukraine joining the Cairns Group, which is the core group of agriculture free-trading nations that of course Ukraine is a massive agricultural producer in its part of the world, so they they were very welcome because of their strong track record and commitment to removing trade barriers around the world but, of course, it was also an expression of inclusion and solidarity with the Government of Ukraine.

Kieran: Assistant Trade Minister Tim Ayres joining me live from Abu Dhabi at the WTO, thanks.

Senator Ayres: Good on you Kieran, see you later.