On Friday, 11 March 2016, Gary Higgins, the Northern Territory’s Minister for Primary Industry and Fisheries spoke at a Business Briefing hosted by AusCham in HCMC. Below is a report in Bloomberg BNA, by Lien Hoang titled, “TPP trade to flow in two directions, Minister says” (14 March 2016).

The following is reproduced with permission from Daily Report for Executives, 49 DER (March 14, 2016). Copyright 2016 by The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. (800-372-1033) http://www.bna.com

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March 11 — The Trans-Pacific Partnership will see countries increasingly specialize in their areas of expertise, a regional minister from Australia said March 11 while visiting Vietnam.

Such trade deals are pushing states to cooperate, rather than just compete, said Gary Higgins, Australia’s Northern Territory minister for primary industry and fisheries.

“This country is better at doing A, and this country is better at doing B,” Higgins said of TPP members, who finished negotiations in October. “I think that’s the biggest thing that comes out of those talks.”

During a visit to Ho Chi Minh City, Higgins told the Australian Chamber of Commerce (AusCham) here that nations should emphasize their competitive advantages through two-way trade. For instance, he’d like to see more Vietnamese and Thais bring their farming expertise to Australia, which could in turn offer industrial training on quality control measures.

Commerce would then flow in both directions, rather than the unilateral model by which exporters simply find markets where they can sell products.

“It’s good just to export stuff,” Higgins said. “But it just doesn’t work that way.”

Besides Vietnam and Australia, the 10 other TPP members are Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and the U.S.

The deal, which was signed by trade ministers from the 12 TPP countries in New Zealand on Feb. 4, represents almost 40 percent of global gross domestic product worth $30 trillion (See previous story, 02/04/16).

Regional Trade

Several government officials at the AusCham briefing said tariff cuts would not necessarily be the TPP’s biggest impact on Australia. It already is seeing costs go down through other trade pacts with several Asian neighbors.

But the agreement helps to open up the trading environment in the region, Alister Trier, chief executive of Australia’s Northern Territory’s Department of Primary Industry and Fisheries, said.

“At a strategic level, it’s excellent,” Trier told AusCham. “Still, the day-to-day stuff continues. We still have to negotiate deals at a product level, for cattle or whatever the product might be. But I think the general reduction in restrictions to trade is just healthy overall.”

Access to Asia

Trier noted that the Northern Territory has been sending delegations to Vietnam since 2005 to promote commerce. In recent years, Canberra has ramped up spending to develop the territory’s economy and infrastructure as a key access point for Asian trade. The regional capital of Darwin contains Australia’s closest port to Asia.

Karen Lanyon, the Australian consul general in Ho Chi Minh City, expects Vietnam and Australia to collaborate more under the TPP and other trade deals on services such as health care and education. Both economies also rely heavily on farms; Vietnam’s major exports are rice, coffee and rubber, while Australia exports wheat, beef and other meat.

“I think the agricultural sector has a lot of potential, particularly from Darwin’s point of view,” Lanyon told Bloomberg BNA after the Auscham briefing.

Australia, which deployed troops during the Vietnam War, has a long history with Vietnamese, who now represent one of its biggest ethnic minorities. Today, Vietnam sends more students to Australia than does any other country except China and India, while Australians have settled in Vietnam and become active in every business from restaurants to law firms.

“There’s a lot of pockets of Australia inside Vietnam,” Auscham Executive Director Phil Johns told the gathering. “There’s a lot of fantastic stories going on.”

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