Prime Minister Tony Abbott is betting on a “trifecta of trade” during his upcoming tour of north Asia.
He hopes to witness the signing of the free trade deal with South Korea, finalise an agreement with Japan and announce substantial progress towards freer trade with China during his tour of the three countries.
“This is the trifecta of trade we are working towards,” he told the Asia Society in Canberra on Tuesday.
“Just because Asian countries have found Australia a good supplier in the past, doesn’t mean they will inevitably do so in the future.”
That was why his government was doing all it could to open up trade with Australia’s top three export markets, he said.
Mr Abbott hoped the strengthened ties with Australia’s Asian neighbours might soon be demonstrated through a Japanese prime minister addressing the federal parliament in Canberra.
But he cautioned that free trade agreements meant little unless business was willing to make the most of the opportunities.
“We will open the doors – but Australian businesses will still have to walk through in order to maximise the benefits of these arrangements,” he said.
Earlier on Tuesday the prime minister faced questions from his own MPs worried about talks with Japan over an FTA.
They expressed concerns that the government would drop a push for increased market access for beef and dairy producers to try to get a deal signed by the end of 2014.
One MP said the trade deal to be signed with South Korea had too many exclusions in it.