16 February 2021

Trade Minister Dan Tehan has been caught out misleading Parliament over the Labor Party’s record on trade

Trade Minister Dan Tehan has been caught out misleading Parliament over the Labor Party’s record on trade.

After boasting during Question Time today about his plans for increased trade volumes with Lichtenstein and Iceland, Mr Tehan claimed Labor had never concluded a free-trade agreement while in government. 

He is wrong.

In Labor’s previous term, we concluded three such agreements: the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Area Agreement in 2010, as well as bilateral agreements with Chile in 2009 and Malaysia in 2010.

The AANZFTA brought together Australia, New Zealand and the 10 ASEAN nations of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

It was Australia’s first multi-country free trade agreement and the first time Australia and New Zealand were involved jointly in negotiating an FTA with third countries.

The former Labor government also launched negotiations for the Korea-Australia FTA (KAFTA) and the Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (IA-CEPA).

Labor has a long and proud record in pursuing trade agreements that are in the interests of Australian workers.

Mr Tehan told Question Time today he was planning a trade deal with the European Free Trade Association, which comprises Lichtenstein, Iceland, Norway and Switzerland.

Yet he again ignored the massive potential market of India.

Mr Tehan should immediately commit to implementing the Government’s own India Economic Strategy, which was written in 2018 by former DFAT chief Peter Varghese. 

This report contained a blueprint for closer economic engagement that would have led to more exports and jobs for Australians – but it has been gathering dust for 2½ years.

Mr Tehan is resorting to false claims and second-rate FTA wish lists to hide his Government’s poor eight-year record on genuine trade diversification. Our exporters deserve much better.