High-quality, comprehensive free trade agreements (FTAs) can play an important role in supporting global trade liberalisation. Australian FTAs currently span across 11 nations, with 7 currently in discussion, and 4 already concluded but not yet in effect.
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 eleven 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.
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.
Current FTAs in place
Australia has entered into free trade agreements (FTAs) with 11 countries or groups of countries (listed with the date they entered into force):
- Australia-New Zealand (ANZCERTA or CER) — 1 January 1983
- Singapore-Australia (SAFTA) — 28 July 2003
- Australia-United States (AUSFTA) — 1 January 2005
- Thailand-Australia (TAFTA) — 1 January 2005
- Australia-Chile (ACl-FTA) — 6 March 2009
- ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand (AANZFTA) — 1 January 2010 for eight countries: Australia, New Zealand, Brunei, Burma, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam. For Thailand: 12 March 2010. For Laos: 1 January 2011. For Cambodia: 4 January 2011. For Indonesia: 10 January 2012
- Malaysia-Australia (MAFTA) — 1 January 2013
- Korea-Australia (KAFTA) — 12 December 2014
- Japan-Australia (JAEPA) — 15 January 2015
- China-Australia (ChAFTA) — 20 December 2015
- Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) — 30 December 2018
FTAs concluded but not yet in force
Australia-Hong Kong Free Trade Agreement
Australia and Hong Kong announced the conclusion of negotiations on the Australia-Hong Kong Free Trade Agreement (FTA) on 15 November 2018. The agreement marks a significant milestone in our already substantial trade and investment relationship. Australian businesses, service suppliers, investors and farmers stand to benefit from the certainty this FTA will bring. For more information about the Australia-Hong Kong FTA visit our Australia-Hong Kong Free Trade Agreement page.
Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement
Australia and Indonesia signed the Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (IA-CEPA) on 4 March 2019. This agreement launches a new chapter in economic relations between Australia and Indonesia.
Peru-Australia Free Trade Agreement
Australia and Peru signed the Peru-Australia Free Trade Agreement (PAFTA) on 12 February 2018.
For more information about PAFTA, visit our Peru-Australia Free Trade Agreement page.
Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER) Plus
PACER Plus was signed in Nuku’alofa in Tonga on 14 June 2017 by Australia, New Zealand and eight Pacific Island countries — Cook Islands, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Tuvalu.
For more information about PACER Plus, visit our Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER) Plus page.
FTA Agreements currently under discussion
Australia and the European Union (EU) launched negotiations for a free trade agreement (FTA) on 18 June 2018. As a bloc, the EU is Australia's second largest trading partner, third largest export destination, and second largest services market. The EU was Australia's largest source of foreign investment in 2017.
Australian importers from the EU can expect an outcome for the FTA in the upcoming years. Many Australian consumers are demanding higher quality products produced in the EU, and this presents an opportunity for trade to be enhanced between the EU and Australia.
Other FTAs under discussion as of 2 April, 2019:
- Australia-Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Free Trade Agreement
- Australia-India Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement
- Environmental Goods Agreement
- Pacific Alliance Free Trade Agreement
- Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership
- Trade in Services Agreement
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