ASEAN Free Trade Agreement launches opportunities in 2010


's largest free trade agreement - the Association of South East Asian Nations-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (AANZFTA) - enjoyed its first working day on January 4, 2010.

Trade Minister Simon Crean (left) presents the Australian Exporter of the Year Award to Neil O'Sullivan of Queensland's NOJA Power. New opportunities abound through AANZFTA.


The historic agreement will span 12 economies with over 600 million people and a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of $3.1trillion.

For Queensland, the gains are expected to be particularly strong in the education secotor, where there is, for example, an immediate expansion from seven to 36 subject areas that Australian education providers can deliver in Vietnam.

AANZFTA is Australia's first multi-country FTA and the most comprehensive FTA ever concluded by ASEAN.

"The commencement of this agreement is a major milestone and opens up significant opportunities for Australian businesses in one of the fastest growing regions in the world," Federal Trade Minister Simon Crean said.

"With Asia leading the global recovery and six out of 10 ASEAN markets expected to grow at rates at least double the forecast OECD average in 2010, there is great potential for Australian exporters to enter new markets."

"This agreement is also an important building block towards deepening Australia's economic integration with the dynamic Asian region.

"As of today, the agreement covers around 70 percent of Australia's trade with ASEAN countries with which we do not have bilateral FTAs," Mr Crean said.

The agreement includes:

* The immediate elimination of a 10 percent tariff on $9.6million of Australian processed cheese exports (in 2008) to Malaysia.

* The immediate elimination of a 5 percent tariff on $7.2million of exports of fresh grapes to Malaysia.

* The immediate elimination of a 3 percent tariff on $22million of wheat exports to the Philippines.

* The immediate elimination of a 5 percent tariff on $3million of sheep meat exports to the Philippines

"By 2020, the deal will eliminate tariffs on 96 percent of our current exports to ASEAN nations," Mr Crean said.

ASEAN accounted for 15 percent of Australia's trade, valued at $83billion in 2008-2009. This is as large as Australia's trade with China, Australia's largest trading partner.

About 42 percent of Australia's total exporter base - about 18,500 Australian exporters - trade with ASEAN.

In addition to Australia and New Zealand, AANZFTA has entered into force for the following ASEAN countries: Brunei, Burma, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam.

Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand are expected to ratify the agreement in the early part of this year.

"I urge the Australian business community to take full advantage of the many benefits that this far-reaching agreement has to offer," Mr Crean said.


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