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 11 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), Malaysia, and Canada and Mexico (through the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, or CPTPP).
The CPTPP was signed on 8 March 2018 and entered into force on 30 December 2018, following ratification by six countries including Australia, Canada, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand and Singapore.
Australia is also party to a number of FTAs that have been signed, or concluded, but have not yet entered into force: the Peru-Australia Free Trade Agreement (PAFTA) which was signed on 12 February 2018, the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER) Plus which was signed on 14 June 2017, Indonesia–Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, which was signed on 6 March 2019 and Australia–Hong Kong Free Trade Agreement, signed on 26 March 2019. Australia is also engaged in an additional five FTA negotiations under development - two bilateral and three plurilateral.
Bilateral FTAs under negotiation include:
- Australia-European Union Free Trade Agreement
- Australia–India Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement
Plurilateral negotiations underway include:
- Australia–Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) FTA
- Australia-Pacific Alliance Free Trade Agreement
- Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)
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 the 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.