Queensland official pitches TPP

by Takahiro Fukada

Andrew Fraser, treasurer and minister for state development and trade of Queensland, is grateful for the assistance the Japanese public and private sectors gave to his state after it was devastated by recent flooding and Cyclone Yasi.

Fraser, in Tokyo this week, expressed his hope that trade ties between Japan and Australia will be strengthened by concluding the Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade initiative.

“I also wanted to send a personal thank-you on behalf of . . . the people of Queensland for the generosity of many Japanese people and Japanese companies, like . . . our sister state Saitama, who have given very generously to the people of Queensland during our time of need,” Fraser said Tuesday.

According to Fraser and his government, the storms killed 36 people and caused major damage to the coal, agriculture and livestock industries.

To help the region, the Japanese government and companies have so far donated a total of around 3.5 million Australian dollars (around ¥290 million) to the Queensland government, Fraser said.

“This demonstrates the long-standing relationship between the people of Japan and the people of Australia,” he said.

Despite the vastness of the Queensland road network, whose total length would be about the same as making a round trip between Brisbane and London, Fraser said, repairs have reopened about 90 percent of the state’s highways.

The TPP negotiations, built around a free-trade accord that took effect in 2006 among Brunei, Chile, New Zealand and Singapore, are under way to expand the framework to include five other Asia-Pacific countries, including the United States and Australia. Prime Minister Naoto Kan has said he plans to decide around June whether to join the talks.

“We know that negotiations both in terms of the TPP and the free-trade agreement between Australia and Japan are progressing and we are keen and eager to see them concluded to our mutual benefit,” Fraser said.

He came to Japan on Tuesday for a three-day visit to meet with officials of firms dealing in resources and others interested in doing business in Queensland.