Free trade agreements (FTAs)
High-quality, comprehensive free trade agreements (FTAs) can 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 and services, and investment.
Australia has 15 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 three plurilateral agreements with the Association of South East Asian Nations and New Zealand (AANZFTA), the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), and the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER) Plus.
The CPTPP has been ratified by Australia, Canada, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore and Vietnam, however Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Malaysia and Peru are yet to ratify the agreement. PACER Plus is the most recent regional FTA, which entered into force on 13 December 2020.
Australia is also party to the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP) which was signed on 15 November 2020, but has not yet entered into force.
FTAs currently under negotiation include:
- Australia-European Union Free Trade Agreement
- Australia-United Kingdom Free Trade Agreement
- Australia–India Comprehensive Economic Cooperation 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 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 closely 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 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 Non-Tariff Measures.