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Australia to pursue trade pact with Thailand.

SYDNEY, April 6 Kyodo

Australia will pursue free-trade negotiations with Thailand as a part of a move towards strengthening economic ties with Southeast Asia, Trade Minister Mark Vaile said Friday.

Vaile, who is in Washington to explore the possibility of a free-trade pact with the United States, said Australia was prepared to take advantage of opportunities provided by countries with similar ideas on free trade.

Australia has already begun negotiations on an agreement with Singapore.

''We've got a very strong focus on strengthening our economic relationship with all the ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) countries,'' he told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio.

''At the same time we're negotiating with Singapore. If we get the opportunity to move to the next stage with Thailand, we'll do the same there. It's all about building a much stronger relationship within our region...ultimately we'll move right across the region.''

The Australian Financial Review reported Friday the newly elected Thai government signaled its support for a bilateral trade pact during a meeting between Foreign Minister Surakiat Sathirathai and his Australian counterpart Alexander Downer in Chile last week.
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Publication:Asian Economic News
Date:Apr 9, 2001
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