During his short visit to the United States, Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer announced the creation of a free trade zone between the two countries. The new arrangement is seen here in Sydney as a strong boost to the Australian agricultural exports. Meanwhile however, the Farmers' Federation issued a statement today, warning that the free trade agreement with the United States may not be popular among its members. The zone, while helping Australian meat exports, may also open this country to American companies expanding into new markets and using US government grants and assistance. During the same press conference, Mr. Downer and the American Secretary of Sate Colin Powell announced that Australia will support the U.S. ballistic missile defence system currently proposed by the Bush administration. Preliminary agreements would allow sophisticated American radars to be deployed in Australia as a part of the anti-missile system - a prospect likely to attract protests from Beijing quite soon. The Australian Dollar fell today to US$0.485 for the first time in history.
Henry L. Marconi Pravda.Ru Sydney, Australia