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Aust: Free Trade Talks with United Arab Emirate

Free Trade Talks with the United Arab Emirates

Australia and the United Arab Emirates will hold talks in December to continue negotiations on a possible Free Trade Agreement, the Acting Prime Minister and Minister for Trade, Mark Vaile, said today.

The Acting Prime Minister was in Brisbane to launch a report on the progress of the negotiations.

"The UAE is Australia’s second largest market in the Middle East, with merchandise exports totalling about $1.3 billion a year. One of our most important exports - with a value of $227 million a year - is Australian cars, which are well suited to the Gulf. They perform well over long distances and have very good air-conditioning and dust sealing," Mr Vaile said.

"The UAE is also a growing market for Australian educational and training services. Australia is becoming an increasingly important destination for Emirati students - the number of its students studying in Australia increased 34 per cent between 2000 and 2004.

"A Free Trade Agreement would provide major opportunities for Australian businesses, particularly in the construction, building materials, education and food sectors.

"In the December round of talks, there will be detailed negotiations on draft chapters of the agreement on services and investment and the first in-depth consideration of market access for goods. It will be our third round of talks since we started negotiations in March this year.

"It may be possible to finalise the agreement by mid-2006, but we will take whatever time is needed to secure a high-quality agreement that benefits Australian exporters," Mr Vaile said.

The negotiations will take place on the Gold Coast from 5-9 December. The UAE delegation will be led by its Minister for Economy and Planning, Her Excellency Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi.

The report can be accessed at www.dfat.gov.au/geo/uae/fta/index.html. For more information on the Australia-UAE FTA contact DFAT or access the DFAT website: http://www.dfat.gov.au/trade

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