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Summary of the Second Meeting of the Ministerial Advisory Council

  1. The second meeting of the Ministerial Advisory Council (MAC) was convened by videoconference on 12 August 2020. The meeting was co-chaired by Senator the Hon Simon Birmingham, Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, the Hon Andrew Gee MP, Assistant Minister to the Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment and Minister for Decentralisation and Regional Education, and the Industry Co-Chair, Ms Christine Holgate, Group CEO and Managing Director of Australia Post.
  2. The meeting was attended by all MAC members.
  3. Minister Birmingham welcomed MAC members and invited Ms Alison Burrows, Chief Negotiator for the Australia-EU Free Trade Agreement (FTA), to provide an update on the Australia-EU FTA negotiations.
  4. Ms Burrows updated MAC members on the negotiations. She advised that concluding a comprehensive and ambitious Australia-EU FTA is a Government priority. Timing for concluding the agreement is uncertain due to challenges posed by COVID-19, however, the parties continue to negotiate virtually, towards 2021 conclusion. Ms Burrows welcomed MAC members engaging in robust dialogue with the Department on the specific details of the negotiations.
  5. Ms Elisabeth Bowes, Chief Negotiator for the Australia-UK FTA, provided a brief update on the Australia-UK FTA negotiations. She noted the high level of political and public support for achieving a comprehensive and ambitious FTA with the UK, as well as the high degree of like-mindedness between the parties on many issues.
  6. Ms Christine Holgate, MAC Industry Co-Chair, led MAC members in a broad ranging discussion, including on Australia’s market access interests in the EU, and how the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade engages industry and business on the Australia-EU FTA.
  7. A number of MAC members outlined their views on the most important elements for Australia in the negotiations.
  8. The Chief Negotiators engaged on issues raised by MAC members regarding the negotiations, and acknowledged the value of the discussion and the importance for ongoing engagement.
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