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Trade talks equal jobs, says Gillard


Prime Minister Julia Gillard says two developments in trade talks are good news for Australian jobs.

Ms Gillard met with US President Barack Obama and nine other regional leaders at the East Asia Summit (EAS) in Cambodia on Tuesday to discuss the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

The prime minister said the 11 TPP nation members had resolved to finalise negotiations by October 2013 for the trade deal, covering about 30 per cent of the world's economic output.

The TPP includes the US, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Brunei, Chile, Peru, Vietnam, Malaysia, Mexico and Canada.

Sixteen regional leaders attending the summit in Phnom Penh also threw their weight behind a new set of talks, known as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

The pact will be based on existing trade deals in the region, including the free-trade agreement between Australia, New Zealand and the 10 ASEAN nations.

Ms Gillard said the aim was to conclude the RCEP talks by 2015.

The prime minister said both the TPP and RCEP were important to reaching the long-term goal of creating the world's largest free-trade zone in the Asia-Pacific region.

"Australia is a great trading nation and freer trade arrangements mean more jobs for Australians," Ms Gillard told reporters in Phnom Penh on Tuesday.

Asked to explain what sort of jobs would be created, Ms Gillard said the booming middle class in the Asian region would be demanding food, tourism, high-end manufacturing, finance, health, education and legal services.

Ms Gillard joined with Mr Obama to call for progress on a binding code of conduct in the South China Sea, which would provide a framework to prevent conflict, manage incidents when they occur, and help resolve disputes.

Australia is not taking a position on the disputed territories but wants to see a peaceful resolution in line with international law covering what is an important area for shipping of Australian goods.

Earlier the prime minister presented Chinese premier Wen Jiaboa, during discussions on trade and security issues, with a photograph of former prime minister Gough Whitlam meeting with Chairman Mao during Whitlam's 1973 visit to China.

Australia will mark the 40th anniversary of ties with China in a series of upcoming events and Ms Gillard plans to visit China in 2013.

Ms Gillard also announced Australia would fund a $50 million program to combat people trafficking and fight malaria.

With the EAS being the final summit of the year, Ms Gillard told reporters it had been "busy but productive" series of overseas visits over the past 12 months.