logo logo


In the last two years the Australian Government has finalised bilateral trade agreements with China, Korea and Japan, which are now in force. The Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement between 12 Pacific Rim countries has been agreed, but is being reviewed by a Parliamentary committees before Parliament votes on the implementing legislation. The TPP will not come into force until six of the 12 countries including the US and Japan pass the implementing legislation, which is expected to take two years.

The current conservative Coalition government has agreed to include Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions in the Korea and China bilateral FTAs as well as the TPP. ISDS allows foreign companies to bypass national courts and sue governments for compensation if they can argue that a change in law or policy harms their investment. The previous Labor government had a policy against ISDS, and even a previous Coalition government did not include ISDS in the Australia-US free trade agreement in 2004.

There is widespread opposition in the Australian community to the inclusion of ISDS in the TPP. The TPP is also controversial because it extends monopoly rights on expensive life-saving biologic medicines, which will mean more years of very high prices before cheaper versions become available. There are also grave concerns about its impacts on food labelling standards and expanded access for temporary workers without additional protection of workers’ rights. A recent World Bank study found that Australia was only likely to gain almost no economic benefit from the deal.

Australia is currently involved in multilateral negotiations towards the PACER-plus agreement with New Zealand and 14 Pacific Island countries, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and the Trade In Services Agreement (TISA). It is also negotiating bilateral trade agreements with India and Indonesia and will begin talks with Hong Kong and Taiwan later this year and the EU next year.

Contributed by AFTINET

last update: May 2016

Indonesia free trade deal in sight
Australia and Indonesia are inching towards talks on freer trade, as the imminent collapse of global reform talks puts a greater focus on regional deals.
Govt sets FTA target
Australia is aiming to have nearly two-thirds of its exports and imports covered by bilateral or regional trade deals.
Australian trade minister argues in favor of free trade agreements in lieu of WTO deal
Countries will continue to negotiate their own free trade agreements in the absence of a WTO deal, but those bilateral arrangements could actually help the chances for a global trade pact, Australia’s trade minister said Saturday.
US-Korea agreement shows Australia is losing out in bilateral deals
The international trade tide is turning in a dangerous direction for Australia. The new deal carved out by the US and South Korea last week, just minutes before President George Bush’s trade negotiating powers expired, is a massive one.
FTA with Gulf States promises substantial benefits
After the suspension of FTA negotiations with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in 2006, the Australian Government commissioned a study by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade into the merits and feasibility of an FTA with the GCC. Minister for Trade, Warren Truss, said the study found that an FTA would maximise Australia’s long-term commercial interest in the GCC.
Scaling the Andes for free trade
Another day, another free trade negotiation. Two days after announcing a study into a free trade agreement with South Korea, Trade Minister Warren Truss revealed Australia will start negotiating an FTA with Chile.
Australia and S Korea to study FTA
Australia and South Korea have agreed to begin private feasibility studies ahead of possible full negotiations on a free trade deal.
Malaysia, Australia set no date for delayed FTA deal
The leaders of Malaysia and Australia declined to set a date for the completion of a free-trade deal due to have been agreed by mid-2006, saying the negotiations should not be hurried.
Australia: Trade pact with Indonesia in cold storage
Though plans were announced for a feasibility study on a bilateral deal between the two countries, a Free Trade Agreement between Indonesia and Australia is still a distant dream.
Trade pact a low priority: Jakarta
A free trade agreement between Indonesia and Australia is unlikely in the short term, according to a top Indonesian official.