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TPP doomed but services deal looks rosy

AAP logoAAP 17/11/2016 Lisa Martin

A doomed controversial Pacific free-trade pact will cast a cloud over the APEC summit in Lima but Australia's trade minister sees blue sky elsewhere.

Steve Ciobo is optimistic an Australian, US and European Union-led services free-trade agreement can get off the ground by the end of the year.

Four out of five jobs in Australia are in the services sector.

But the minister believes there is enormous scope to increase trade in services from the base of 22 per cent in overall exports.

"There is tremendous potential," Mr Ciobo said from Lima, ahead of his participation at Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation meetings.

The finance sector, telecommunications, logistics, legal services, architectural firms, education providers, tourism operators, engineering and mining firms could be among the big industry winners, he said.

The services deal potentially could cover 50 countries.

Mr Ciobo was keen to play down the prospects of US president-elect Donald Trump scuttling the Trans-Pacific Partnership after he's inaugurated in January.

It was important not to pre-empt the outcome of the so-called lame duck session of the US Congress while the Obama administration was still in place, he said.

However, Mr Ciobo acknowledged it was a long shot.

He may gain some insights into America's trade policy direction when he has a bilateral meeting with the US trade representative Michael Froman on Thursday afternoon (Peru time).

Mr Ciobo denied Mr Trump had an anti-free trade agenda, arguing the US president-elect wanted agreements that were good for American workers, wages, exporters, job opportunities and the budget.

"Those goals aren't dissimilar to the goals I and the coalition have with trade agreements for Australia," Mr Ciobo said.

It was important for ministers to fly the flag for free trade amid a pockets of a backlash against globalisation world-wide.

"(You) have to join the dots in a clear way - it's not about losing jobs or outsourcing work, it's actually about opening new markets for Australian exporters."

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is due to arrive in Lima on Friday (local time).

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