Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Tuesday held up to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), saying it "is all about jobs for Australia", despite the fact that U.S. President Donald Trump had signed executive order to withdraw the United States from the deal. (Xinhuanet file photo)
CANBERRA, Jan. 24 (Xinhua) -- Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Tuesday held up to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), saying it "is all about jobs for Australia", despite the fact that U.S. President Donald Trump had signed executive order to withdraw the United States from the deal.
"The Trans-Pacific Partnership is all about jobs for Australia. Let's be quite clear about this," said Turnbull in Canberra.
"We are a trading-exporting nation. We are a trading nation. Trade is one-and-a-half times as big a share of our economy as it is of the United States. What that means is that there is a bigger proportion of Australians whose jobs depend on exports than there is of Americans."
"So trade is critical to us," he said.
Turnbull said other leaders in other countries may have made other judgement on the 12-nation trade deal, but the Australian government's stance on this issue is based on the country's national interest.
"... trade policy, Australian trade policy, is written in Canberra in the interests of Australian jobs. We stand up for Australian workers," he stressed.
Turnbull said he still hopes that Trump would change his mind given that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, has been a longtime advocate for TPP, and that the Republican Party in the Congress have been strong supporters of the TPP.
He also criticized opposition leader Bill Shorten for not supporting the deal.
Shorten had called the TPP long "dead in the water". He lashed out at Turnbull, saying the prime minister should have known that TPP was dead when Trump won the presidential election in November last year.
Turnbull also flagged bringing China, the world's second largest economy, to the TPP to fill up the void left by the United States.
"We want to have more opportunities with more markets. We already have a China-Australia Free Trade Agreement. Certainly there is the potential for China to join the TPP."
Another possible fate for the TPP that the prime minister proposed is that the TPP proceeds without the U.S., so-called TPP minus one.
"At the APEC conference in Lima there was a lot of discussion about this. The then New Zealand Prime Minister John Key was very open about New Zealand's analysis, which was that, from their point of view, most of the benefit of the TPP would still accrue to New Zealand, even if America was not a party to it," Turnbull said.
The advantage of the TPP and the reason why it has been so strongly supported is that it opens up new opportunities for all of the involving countries. And it also provides a commitment to maintaining common standards to remove barriers to trade from behind the border through all of those economies in the TPP.
"It is a very much trade enhancing agreement, it will enable those economies to engage and to integrate more. It will be better for Australian investment abroad, it will be better for Australian exports, particularly of services as opposed to physical goods. There is no question it is an advantage."
"Losing the United States from the TPP is a big loss, there is no question about that. But we are not about to walk away from our commitment to Australian jobs," Turnbull said.
Meanwhile, Trade, Tourism and Investment Minister Steven Ciobo is seeking to secure new bilateral trade agreements with Indonesia and a new trade agreement with India.
"We are constantly working to open the doors of new markets and open wider the doors of existing markets for Australian exporters because that is where the jobs are to be found," Turnbull said.
"What we need is bigger and better market opportunities and we are determined to make them available and we have done that. We have proved that."