WASHINGTON - The Office of the United States Trade Representative today issued the following statement after the meeting between the U.S. Trade Representative, Robert B. Zoellick, and the Australian Minister for Trade, Mark Vaile:
Ambassador Zoellick and Australian Trade Minister Vaile considered how they might advance the proposal for a possible free trade agreement (FTA) between the United States and Australia. They discussed how an FTA could contribute to their shared goals of achieving open markets globally in the WTO's Doha Development Agenda and in the Asia-Pacific region. They directed their staffs to examine the elements of a possible FTA and to provide the results of this work in the coming months.
They also agreed on the necessity of continuing work on resolving the full range of outstanding agriculture problems.
At the same time, they agreed to intensify consultations with relevant stake holders in determining the Administration's position. In this regard, Ambassador Zoellick noted the support of key members of Congress for an FTA and stressed his intention to continue Congressional consultations.
Ambassador Zoellick and Minister Vaile agreed to report their discussion on a proposed FTA to President Bush and Prime Minister Howard, as the Leaders had requested during their September 10, 2001 meeting in Washington.