Summary of the Inaugural Meeting of the Ministerial Advisory Council
- The inaugural meeting of the Ministerial Advisory Council (MAC) was convened by videoconference on 9 July 2020. The meeting was co-chaired by Senator the Hon Simon Birmingham, Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment and the Industry Co-Chair, Ms Christine Holgate, Group CEO and Managing Director of Australia Post.
- The meeting was attended by all MAC members, including the Hon Andrew Gee MP, Assistant Minister to the Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment and Minister for Decentralisation and Regional Education.
- Minister Birmingham, Minister Gee and Ms Holgate provided opening statements on the importance of international trade to the Australian economy and the importance of the MAC as a forum through which members can exchange views and engage in frank and robust discussion. Minister Birmingham noted that one in five Australian jobs rely on trade, and while COVID-19 creates a more challenging landscape, the Government remains committed to promoting free trade and open markets.
- Members of the MAC provided a brief introduction and outline of their key interests in joining the Council.
- Christopher Langman, Deputy Secretary — Trade, Investment and Business Engagement Group of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) provided an overview of the Department and on Free Trade Agreement (FTA) engagement and negotiating strategies. He noted the Government has taken new steps to engage with stakeholders and build support and understanding of FTAs in the community.
- Alison Burrows, Chief Negotiator, Australia-European Union (EU) Free Trade Agreement (FTA), provided an update on the EU FTA negotiations. She noted discussions on market access and across chapter text during the virtual round in May 2020. As a market of almost 450 million people, she noted the potential for growth in areas such as agriculture, e-commerce, procurement, services and investment. She looked forward to the focus on the EU FTA at the next MAC meeting.
- Minister Birmingham closed the meeting noting the second meeting of the MAC was scheduled to occur on 12 August 2020.