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Australia, New Zealand free trade agreement “positive move”: Ai Group

The signing of the Free Trade Agreement with ASEAN and New Zealand (AANZFTA) is a positive move in relations with our ASEAN neighbours and signals greater integration and opportunity for export across the region’s economies, said Ai Group chief executive, Heather Ridout.

The Agreement delivers the elimination of most tariffs facing Australian goods exporters to ASEAN countries, either immediately after the agreement comes into force, or phased in over a transition period.

This marks a substantial liberalisation in our trading relations with the ASEAN economies, which account for 21 per cent of Australia’s total trade, worth $103 billion, making the grouping a larger trading partner than any single country.

The ASEAN grouping has a population of 600 million, with an estimated combined GDP of US$2.7 trillion.

“We commend the Government’s negotiating efforts in delivering as comprehensive an agreement as possible. At this time of global economic turmoil, it is critical that industry gains greater access to export markets and that this access provides Australia with competitive positioning in the complex system of international trade agreements,” Ridout said in a notice to the press.

“While it should be noted that there was still scope for greater market access for Australian motor vehicles to Indonesia and Malaysia, the agreement will provide important market access gains for industrial products, in particular automotive parts and components, iron and steel products and aluminium products.”

The agreement also includes gains in services sectors such as professional and educational services. Under the AANZFTA framework, ASEAN countries have committed to a range of WTO plus regulatory disciplines that will potentially provide greater certainty to Australian exporters and a reduction in Non-Tariff Barriers to imports, according to the Ai Group.

The AANZFTA further consolidates our bilateral agreement with Thailand through the improvement of some tariff commitments — including lower or earlier tariff elimination for Australian exports such as automotive sector products, iron, steel and aluminium products, wool and cotton, copper, lead and zinc.

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