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TCFUA Slams ASEAN Free Trade Agreement

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TCFUA Slams ASEAN Free Trade Agreement

The Textile Clothing & Footwear Union of Australia (TCFUA) earlier today slammed the weekend’s announcement by Trade Minister Simon Crean that a Free Trade Agreement with ASEAN countries had been signed.

TCFUA National Secretary, Ms Michele O’Neil said she was dismayed that the Australian Government could enter into the ASEAN FTA for a number of reasons.

‘This FTA appears to ignore the Government’s agreed TCF schedule of tariff reductions in a number of key product areas.  Accelerating tariff reductions hurt Australian manufacturers and their workers, this FTA further reduces the scheduled reductions which were announced close to a decade ago.’ O’Neil said.

‘How is the industry supposed to adapt to increased reductions, some of which take effect this year?  The ALP’s own Federal Platform states in relation to TCF tariffs ‘If the negative social impact of further tariff reductions is too severe, the tariff will be frozen until such time as those  issues are addressed.’’

‘The TCFUA is astounded that the Government could deliver such a blow, particularly in the context of the global financial crisis and the Pacific Brands decision. It shows the complete lack of coherent Government policy in this area and a cynical preparedness to trade off support for local industry’ Ms O’Neil said.

The TCFUA are calling on the Government for an urgent response to the Report of the Federal Government Review of the TCF industry, which was released to Government in August 2008.

‘This example highlights the need for an effective and coherent industry policy which must be implemented immediately and for a commitment to fair trade over free trade.’

The union is also shocked that the Australian Government would encourage open trade with the Burma regime. Ms O’Neil deplored this policy stating that it sent a bad message to a repressive regime responsible for numerous grave human and labor rights violations, ‘How can you have so called free trade with a repressive regime?’

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