High-quality, comprehensive free trade agreements (FTAs) play an important role in supporting global trade liberalisation and enhancing the international competitiveness of Australian exports.
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 other’s markets for goods, services and investment.
Australia has 16 FTAs currently in force. These include bilateral agreements with Chile, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Thailand and the United States, as well as four plurilateral agreements, the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Area (AANZFTA), the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER) Plus, and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
The CPTPP has been ratified by Australia, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam, however Brunei Darussalam and Chile have signed but are yet to ratify the agreement. On 1 February 2021, the United Kingdom (UK) formally requested accession to the CPTPP and on 2 June 2021, the CPTPP Commission formally agreed to commence accession negotiations with the UK. For more information, refer to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s website
RCEP entered into force on 1 January 2022. It has been ratified by Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Japan, Lao PDR, Malaysia, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Myanmar and the Philippines have signed but not yet ratified the agreement. Further information is available at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website
On 17 December 2021, Australia and the United Kingdom (UK) signed the Australia-UK FTA. The agreement will enter into force during the course of 2022. For more information, refer to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website
On 2 April 2022, Australia and India signed the Australia-India Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (IA-ECTA) which will enter into force in the later half of 2022. Further information is available at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website.
FTAs currently under negotiation include:
- Australia-European Union Free Trade Agreement
- Australia-UAE Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement
- Australia-Pacific Alliance Free Trade Agreement
- Australia-Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Free Trade Agreement
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 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 remove barriers in highly protected markets or enable Australian exporters to gain a foothold in new 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 closely with DFAT to ensure the interests of agricultural industries are strongly represented 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 and food safety measures and has a leading role in developing the sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) provisions of FTAs as well as broader provisions impacting agricultural tariffs and Non-Tariff Measures.