High-quality, comprehensive free trade agreements (FTAs) can play an important role in supporting global trade liberalisation.
FTAs can cover entire regions with multiple participants or link just two economies. Under these agreements, parties enter into legally binding commitments to open access to each others' markets for goods and services, and investment.
Australia has ten FTAs currently in force with China, Japan, Republic of Korea, New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand, US, Chile, the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) (with New Zealand) and Malaysia.
Australia concluded negotiations of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement in October 2015. This agreement will enter into force following completion of each country’s domestic implementation processes.
Australia is currently engaged in six FTA negotiations - two bilateral FTA negotiations: India and Indonesia; and four plurilateral FTA negotiations: the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP), the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the Pacific Trade and Economic Agreement (PACER Plus), the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP) and the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) and scoping is underway for an FTA with the European Union.
For more information on these FTAs and outcomes for agriculture go to:
Why have FTAs?
The Australian Government supports the negotiation of comprehensive FTAs that are consistent with the World Trade Organization (WTO) rules and guidelines and which complement and reinforce the multilateral trading system.
FTAs promote stronger trade and commercial ties between participating countries, and open up opportunities for Australian exporters and investors to expand their business into key markets. They are particularly beneficial when they seek to remove barriers in highly protected markets or gain a foothold in potential or expanding markets.
By facilitating access to these markets, FTAs provide significant commercial benefits to Australia’s exporters and in turn, wider economic benefits to all Australians.
Role of department in FTAs
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) leads and coordinates FTA negotiations on behalf of the Australian Government.
The department works with DFAT to ensure the interests of agricultural industries are taken into account in the development of Australian negotiating positions. The two departments also work together to consult industry on identifying market access priorities and defensive interests, and to keep industry informed of the Government’s approach to the negotiations.
The department is responsible for biosecurity measures, and has a leading role in developing the sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) provisions of FTAs.