PRIME MINISTER

7 April 2014

TRANSCRIPT OF THE PRIME MINISTER THE HON. TONY ABBOTT MP JOINT PRESS STATEMENT WITH MR SHINZO ABE, PRIME MINISTER OF JAPAN, TOKYO
Subjects: Australia-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement. E&OE……………………….…………………………………………………………… PRIME MINISTER ABE: I'm sincerely delighted to have Prime Minister Abbott visit Japan as the official guest of the Government of Japan on this occasion. Australia is a strategic partner with whom we share universal values and strategic interests and in today's meeting, I have confirmed with Tony that we will elevate this strong bilateral relationship between our two countries to a new special relationship so that we can work on forging an even stronger partnership together. Firstly, in the field of economic relations, I am especially happy that we have reached a substantive agreement on our Japan-Australia EPA negotiations that began in 2007 when I was the Prime Minister. Japan-Australia EPA is an extremely important framework for promoting trade and investment between our two countries and the substantive agreement we have achieved is historically significant in bringing the relationship between our two countries even closer. We intend to proceed with work to sign the agreement as early as possible. We have also confirmed on this occasion the importance of promoting trade and investment even further; including those for the energy and resources area. Second, in the field of security, we decided to commence negotiations towards a framework agreement for corporation in the area of defence, equipment and technology. Furthermore, it was confirmed that the inter-operability between the defence organisations of the two countries will be improved so that practical co-operation between our two countries; including combined defence training can further be expanded in a strategic manner.
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Third, in the area of people-to-people exchange, I welcome the pilot programme in Japan of the New Colombo plan that Australia is promoting. To provide support we made a decision to establish a new liaison and coordination meeting between our two countries called ‘the friends of the New Colombo Plan’. Fourthly, both Japan and Australia will continue to work together towards our common goals such as realising peace and stability in the region as well as the international community and establishing respect for the rule of law over our oceans and airspaces. I look forward to continuing exchanging opinions over dinner after this with regards to regional situations such as North Korea and global issues such as the Ukraine. Thank you very much. Prime Minister Abbott, please. PRIME MINISTER ABBOTT: Well, Shinzo, thank you so much. This has been a marvelous visit and I thank you for the extraordinary hospitality and the great honours that you have showered upon me. Thank you so very much. I do look forward to your visit to Australia as soon as is reasonably possible. You have very well summarised the results of our discussions over the past day or so and the further discussions that we will be having in the weeks and months and years ahead. I am very conscious of history as we stand in this extraordinary building, which helps to symbolise the revival of Japan over the last two centuries. I am very conscious of the fact that the Japan-Australia trade treaty which Prime Minister Abe's grandfather, Prime Minister Kishi negotiated with the then Australian Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, has been so important in the subsequent prosperity of both our countries. But for the opening that was established then, but for the trust which swiftly developed from that time – there would be no iron ore industry as we know it in Australia; there would be no coal industry as we know it in Australia; there would be little gas industry as we know it in Australia. Without the Australian exports of coal and iron ore and gas, there would be no sophisticated modern economy here in Japan. That was truly an historic occasion for both our countries. It was a truly historic occasion for world peace, given the history, which in those days, was very recent between our two countries. I think that today could be equally historic and equally significant. This is the first time that Japan has negotiated a comprehensive economic partnership agreement or free trade agreement with a major economy, particularly a major economy with a strong agricultural sector. I hope that thanks to this agreement that has been finalised today, that Australia can be pivotal to ensuring that in the years and decades to come, the people of Japan have energy security, resource security, and food security. Again, this will be good for Australia, good for Japan, good for our region and good for the world.

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I love the historical resonances of Prime Minister Kishi's grandson finalising this new and perhaps equally historic trade agreement between Australia and Japan. I love the historical resonances of Prime Minister Abe finalising now the negotiations that began in 2007 under Prime Minister Howard for Australia and Prime Minister Abe for Japan. So, I think this is a marvelous and an historic day but it does build on the long-term closeness of our two countries. As Prime Minister Abe has reiterated time and time again over the last day or so, we have a deep, shared commitment to the universal aspirations of democracy, freedom and the rule of law. The relationship between Australia and Japan is about much more than economics and trade and growing wealthy together. It's about respect, it's about values and that's why this is such a very strong partnership and that's why I so much looking forward to seeing you, Shinzo, in Australia as soon as possible so we can continue to build this special relationship. [ends]

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