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USTR Ron Kirk and Australian Minister of Trade Crean Hold U.S. - Australia Free Trade Agreement Joint Commission Talks

Washington, D.C. - U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk met today with Australian Minister of Trade Simon Crean to review progress under the United States - Australian Free Trade Agreement (FTA). This was the fourth review of implementation of the agreement, which went into effect in 2005.

"The United States and Australia enjoy a strong and vibrant economic partnership, and the FTA remains a cornerstone in our economic relationship. This Agreement provides a platform for expanding trade and investment ties as well as fostering deeper cooperation on other economic issues where we share common goals," Ambassador Kirk said. "Today we had the opportunity to take stock of the progress under the FTA and we are pleased that the Agreement continues to contribute to economic growth and new opportunities for businesses, farmers, ranchers, and workers in both countries."

During the meeting Ambassador Kirk and Minister Crean reviewed the implementation and operation of the FTA. They discussed in detail a range of issues covered by the agreement, including agriculture, intellectual property rights, and investment, labor and environment issues. In addition, USTR Kirk and Minister Crean also agreed to start a dialogue on ways in which the two countries can collaborate on a number of issues covered under the Environment Chapter. On multilateral issues, Ambassador Kirk emphasized the United States' resolve to achieve an ambitious and balanced conclusion to the WTO Doha Round. They also discussed advancing a bold agenda at the November Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Ministers' and Leaders' meetings, as well as other regional economic developments.

BACKGROUND

Two-way trade of goods between the United States and Australia has increased by 51 percent since the U.S. - Australia FTA went into effect in 2005, reaching $32.8 billion in 2008. U.S. goods exports to Australia in 2008 were $22.2 billion, up 16 percent from 2007 and up 56 percent since the FTA went into effect. Top export categories include Machinery, Vehicles, Optic and Medical Instruments, and Electrical Machinery. By comparison, U.S. goods imports from Australia totaled $10.6 billion in 2008, a 23 percent increase from 2007 and a 40 percent increase since the FTA went into effect. U.S. foreign direct investment (FDI) in Australia was $88.5 billion in 2008, up six percent from 2007. For the same period Australia's FDI in the United States was $64.3 billion, up 28 percent from 2007.