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Australia Seeking To Expand FTA Network

by Mary Swire,, Hong Kong

24 November 2017

The Australian Government has said that it intends to extend its network of free trade agreements (FTAs), as part of its new foreign policy agenda.

The Government has published its Foreign Policy White Paper, the first comprehensive review of Australia's international engagements for 14 years.

One of the objectives set out by the Government is that by 2020 Australia will have FTAs with countries that account for 80 percent of its trade. The current level of coverage is 64 percent.

The White Paper explained that the Government's immediate priority is concluding the Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership. The Government will also negotiate an FTA with the EU, and intends to negotiate a trade deal with the UK once it has left the EU.

"These prospective FTAs will advance our commercial interests, especially in investment, services, and agriculture," it said.

The White Paper stated that the Government will initiate a comprehensive review of the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand FTA, and will upgrade the FTAs with Singapore, Thailand, and Malaysia.

FTA negotiations with Hong Kong, India, and the Pacific Alliance continue, and ratification of a new FTA with Peru is expected in 2018. The Government will also push for the resumption of FTA negotiations with the Gulf Cooperation Council.

Australia will continue to work with the 10 other countries interested in implementing the Trans-Pacific Partnership, following the US's withdrawal. The White Paper said that, even without the US, "the agreement would support economic growth, create new export opportunities, set high-standard rules, and contribute to global trade liberalization."

The White Paper said: "Australia has been at the forefront of developing modern, comprehensive FTAs. These aim to maximize tariff reductions for Australian exporters, open up services markets, and set rules to enhance trade and investment and reduce regulatory risk. Through these agreements we encourage approaches that support economic growth and trade and investment liberalization more broadly."

TAGS: investment | free trade agreement (FTA) | India | export duty | Australia | Singapore | Thailand | United Kingdom | agreements | Hong Kong | Indonesia | Malaysia | New Zealand | Peru | United States | import duty | Gulf Cooperation Council | trade | European Union (EU) | services | Europe

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