Trade deal a win for Australia: Turnbull

Malcolm Turnbull says a new Pacific trade deal is a very big win for Australia, insisting the country stood up for itself during intense negotiations.


The 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership was finalised overnight after five years of talks, which included late-night phone calls between the prime minister and US President Barack Obama.

“These deals are win-win,” Mr Turnbull told Neil Mitchell on Melbourne 3AW radio on Tuesday.

There will be no change to the five-year data protection for biologic medicines, a major sticking point that had delayed negotiations in Atlanta.

“We certainly stood up for our position,” Mr Turnbull said, insisting the deal will not make drugs more expensive in Australia.

The partnership was of “enormous benefit” to Australia and a “gigantic foundation stone” for the country’s future prosperity.

Trade Minister Andrew Robb says the agreement contains “pages and pages of benefits” and will make Australia more competitive, create jobs and boost living standards.

As well as boosting trade with the US, it will open up new markets to Vietnam, Malaysia, Chile and Canada and usher in a new era of economic growth and opportunity across the fast-growing Asia-Pacific.

Service providers, miners and manufacturers will see tariffs slashed and new markets opened up.

Farmers will get a major boost with tariffs reduced or cut for beef, dairy, wine, sugar, rice, horticulture and seafood in a number of markets.

Beef producers will see tariffs cut by another nine per cent and for the first time in decades rice growers can send more product to Japan.

Canegrowers will see market access for sugar to the US double.

However Mr Robb concedes the extra 65,000 tonne base quota increase for sugar was not as much as he expected.

“We were disappointed, I couldn’t get as much as I wanted,” he told ABC TV on Tuesday, but adding there was potential for further growth.


Lobby group Canegrowers described the outcome as bittersweet, thankful for a compromise uplift of $16 million.

“That’s not to be sneezed at, but I would be less than truthful in saying we are overall disappointed in the outcome,” chairman Paul Schembri said.

Innovative drug makers were disappointed, saying Australia’s five-year data exclusivity provision lagged behind global competitors and would stifle innovation.

Medicines Australia said Australia would miss out on jobs and tax streams from missed medical breakthroughs.

Labor says it will examine the details closely, especially investor-state dispute resolution provisions which could open up Australia to litigation on decisions such as plain cigarette packaging.

“We look forward to seeing how robust those protections are,” opposition trade spokeswoman Penny Wong told ABC radio.

Greens sceptical

The Australian Greens are sceptical about the deal’s benefits, pointing to US research showing there would be a zero-net benefit to the Australian economy.

“That’s why the minister has been under significant pressure not to trade away our rights,” trade spokesman Peter Whish-Wilson said.

Each country will now take the agreement back home, with the deal to be scrutinised by a joint houses committee of the Australian parliament.