Senator the Hon Mathias Cormann
Minister for Finance
Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate
Senator for Western Australia
RICHARD QUEST: Joining me now is Mathias Cormann, the Australian Finance Minister. Good to see you sir.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Good to be back.
RICHARD QUEST: Now trade, you are very firm against protectionism, isolationism and a lover of free trade if I understand you correctly.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Australia is an open trading economy. We always like to do more business with more people.
RICHARD QUEST: So having seen TPP go down the drain, which I think you will agree it has. What do you make of current comments, remarks, rhetoric, threats from Donald Trump?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Australia is committed to ratify the Trans Pacific Partnership. We are quite intent on persisting with it. There are eleven countries other than the United States that are part of it. We are all talking to each other about how we can press ahead with it. The US is the biggest economy in that Trans Pacific Partnership agreement, but let’s just see what happens over time.
RICHARD QUEST: So are you saying and let’s be clear about this, are you saying the TPP, or we could change the name, but a trade agreement like TPP could survive in your view without the US?
MATHIAS CORMANN: What I am saying, is that Australia is committed to ratify the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement, to proceed with it. There was always a two year period for countries to sign up to it. We are eleven months in to that period. Australia is committed to proceed. We are talking to the countries other than the United States to see what their intentions would be. We are hoping that we can get the Trans Pacific Partnership off the ground. That is right.
RICHARD QUEST: And what about Trump’s comments on tariffs, basically if you don’t do business within the US, tariffs are going to be the way of doing it.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Australia is in its 26th continuous year of economic growth. Reforms that have opened Australia to the global economy, reforms that have forced us to complete globally have been very good for us. We believe that they have been very good for the United States too. American businesses have been very successful around the world selling American products and services.
RICHARD QUEST: On the Brexit question, there is so much to talk about here.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Yes.
RICHARD QUEST: On the Brexit question, we know that Australia, along with New Zealand is keen to do a post-Brexit deal with the UK.
MATHIAS CORMANN: We are very keen to do a post-Brexit deal with the UK and with the European Union. We want to have the best possible trade agreement with the United Kingdom. We also want to have the best possible trade agreement with the European Union. We are keen to have a good deal on both sides.
RICHARD QUEST: Yeah, but can you do both at the same time. If you have to choose which one you are going to pursue.
MATHIAS CORMANN: We are already underway in terms of our negotiations with the European Union. That process has already been triggered. In relation to the United Kingdom, they are still part of the European Union at present. Technically they are not in a position yet to formally commence negotiations. But we certainly believe that once they have reached that point, that we would be able to reach a very good agreement, very quickly. That is certainly our commitment. We understand that Britain is very keen too.
RICHARD QUEST: The words I take away from what you have just said then, is very good agreement, well you would say that,.but very quickly. So you believe it can be done with haste, or speedily.
MATHIAS CORMANN: We do yes.
RICHARD QUEST: Right. Let’s go to the wall of uncertainty. Choose your colour pen. Red or, there you go. Another one for the reds. This is very uncertain times ahead. This is less uncertain. Where are you? And these are the issues.
MATHIAS CORMANN: I am in the middle. My view is the world has always faced uncertainty. We have always had lots of issues to deal with. The world has always successfully dealt with them over time. I am very optimistic about what lies ahead.
RICHARD QUEST: How can you be so optimistic with all these issues on your doorstep?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Over the last sixty years and before that there have always been a lot of issues. The world has always found a way forward.
RICHARD QUEST: Good to see you Minister.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Very nice to see you again.
RICHARD QUEST: Good, try and get some skiing done.
MATHIAS CORMANN: I don’t think so.
RICHARD QUEST: You can’t. Good to see you.