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Statement of U.S. Trade Representative Robert B. Zoellick Following House Approval of Australia Free Trade Agreement

"We are delighted that the House of Representatives has marked the two-year anniversary of passage of the Trade Act of 2002 with the overwhelming passage of the U.S.-Australia Free Trade Agreement.

"The United States will gain much from this new economic partnership. More than 99% of the manufactured goods traded between the United States and Australia will be duty-free on day one, making this ‘the manufacturing FTA’. This is the most significant immediate reduction of industrial tariffs ever achieved in a U.S. free trade agreement.

"We are very proud of this state-of-the-art trade agreement. In addition to freeing trade in industrial goods, the new FTA removes barriers to agricultural products, investment, government procurement, and services while increasing protection for intellectual property and freeing electronic commerce.

"President Bush pressed vigorously to enact The Trade Act of 2002 which renewed presidential Trade Promotion Authority after an eight-year lapse. The Australia FTA passed by a vote of 314 to 109; these votes are a tribute both to bipartisan cooperation by Members of Congress and to President Bush's strong commitment to opening markets overseas for American businesses, workers and farmers.

"I would especially like to thank Representatives Bill Thomas, Charlie Rangel, Roy Blunt, Jennifer Dunn, Cal Dooley and Joseph Crowley for their leadership.

"The free trade agreements approved today by the House are an important part of the Administration's efforts to expand trade globally, regionally, and bilaterally. We now look forward to swift passage in the Senate.

"We also have to work with the Congress in the coming weeks to advance the U.S. – Morocco FTA toward final passage.

"This Administration has completed FTAs with twelve countries and is negotiating with ten more. New and pending FTA partners, taken together, would constitute America’s third largest export market and the sixth largest economy in the world.

"As we promised the supporters of trade in the Congress, we are putting Trade Promotion Authority to excellent use."

Background

This Administration has completed free trade agreements with 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 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.