In August 2008, there were announcements that Australia and New
Zealand had struck a deal to establish a Free Trade Agreement with
the ASEAN nations ("AANZFTA"). We issued an E-alert which
can be found on our website.
In the ensuing period, there have been additional negotiations
to try and resolve outstanding issues and finalise the document.
From media reports, it seems most of those negotiations surrounded
Australia's efforts to secure additional tariff reductions for
those in the Australian automotive industry. More recent reports
now suggest that while tariff reductions have been secured within
ASEAN for Australian car component and small vehicle manufacturers,
Australia will still need to separately press for concessional
treatment for large passenger cars in Indonesia and Malaysia. Those
concessions will be sought in the current Free Trade Agreement
negotiations with Malaysia and through separate trade negotiations
with Indonesia. In very recent times, Australia has increased its
efforts to engage with Indonesia on trade matters including the
forum conducted by Government officials in Australia last week.
However, the deal has now been completed with the AANZFTA
scheduled to be signed in Thailand today, 27 February 2009.
While details of concessions granted to Australia have only now
been released and have yet to be reviewed in detail, according to
material provided by DFAT, the AANZFTA will include the
The ability for Australian pharmaceutical companies across the
region to export to ASEAN countries with almost total reduction in
Significant reductions in tariffs on Australian beef, live
cattle exports, sheep and goat meat to countries such as the
Philippines, Indonesia and Vietnam.
Lower tariffs on Australian aluminium exports to Indonesia and
reduction of Malaysian tariffs on aluminium tanks, vats, nails and
screws (over the next four years).
A dispute resolution provision so that Australian firms
investing in ASEAN countries will have access to arbitration
against ASEAN countries if their investments are adversely affected
by action by those countries in breach of AANZFTA commitments. This
will expand current protection currently made available in
Indonesia, Laos, the Philippines and Vietnam.
A general commitment to certainty and transparency for
Australia service providers. In addition, a number of Australian
service industries have received specific commitments to improve
their market access including benefits for lawyers.
Rules of origin generally constructed on "co-equal"
access to rules based on either "Change in Tariff
Classification" ("CTC") or a "Regional Value
Content" ("RVC") tests. For most goods, there will
be the option of using either test although some goods will need to
fit one test.
The use of a "Certificate of Origin" regime for those
wishing to claim preference. These Certificates will be issued by
relevant approved bodies (as in our Thai Free Trade
As at the date of publication of this article, I have yet to
review details of Australia's concessions to ASEAN nations.
However, as many would be aware, current Australian tariffs are
already low on nearly all imports from all countries. We will
continue to provide details on the AANZFTA as they become
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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