Statement of U.S. Trade Representative Robert B. Zoellick Following Senate Approval of the U.S.-Australia Free Trade Agreement
“I would like to thank the many Senators of both parties who supported the swift passage of the U.S. – Australia Free Trade Agreement, a 21st century, state-of-the-art agreement that strengthens America’s position within the modern globalized economy.
“This agreement is truly a ‘Manufacturing FTA’ because over 99% of the manufactured goods traded between the United States and Australia will be duty-free on day one.
“President Bush’s leadership helped secure the bipartisan Trade Promotion Authority, which we have put to good use in opening markets, and expanding opportunities for American workers, businesses, farmers and consumers.
“The Senate passage puts us one step closer to dramatically increasing trade between our nations - projected to rise by billions of dollars - and therefore, creating more economic opportunity in both the United States and Australia.
“The vote of 80 to 16 demonstrates overwhelming support for an important economic partner and a good friend.
“This successful FTA, like others we have completed or are negotiating, is only possible because Congress passed Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) in 2002. I would especially like to thank Senators Charles Grassley and Max Baucus for their leadership on TPA and this agreement with Australia. This free trade agreement is an excellent example of the fulfillment of the goals of the bipartisan TPA consensus on trade.
“We hope Congressional approval of the Australia FTA will provide an excellent atmosphere in which to also approve the pending U.S.-Morocco FTA. We will work closely with Congress to secure passage of the agreement with Morocco, too.”
On Wednesday evening, the House overwhelmingly approved the Australia FTA 314 to 109. Australia must also approve the agreement. Today’s Senate action is one more important step on the way to President Bush signing the FTA’s implementing legislation.
This Administration has completed free trade agreements with 12 countries: Chile, Jordan, Singapore, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Australia, Morocco, the Dominican Republic and Bahrain.
The United States is currently negotiating free trade agreements with ten more: Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Thailand and with the five nations of the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) – Botswana, South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland and Namibia.
In addition to negotiating FTAs, the United States will continue to aggressively press for global free markets through the World Trade Organization; and for hemispheric openness, through the creation of a Free Trade Area of the Americas.