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ASEAN trade deal under fire | 05 January 2010

ASEAN trade deal under fire

Greig Johnston

Australia’s free trade agreement with ASEAN is in effect, but Nationals leader Warren Truss sees the deal as a one-way street

Australia and New Zealand have this week welcomed the implementation of a free trade agreement with ASEAN countries, but the leader of one Australian political party believes the deal is a bad one for his country.

Under the agreement, all tariffs have been removed on food imported to Australia and New Zealand from ASEAN countries and Australian trade minister Simon Crean said on Monday that by 2020 tariffs would be removed from 96 per cent of exports to the region.

That would include the removal of a five per cent tariff on A$7.2m worth of Australian table grape exports to Malaysia, Stock and Land reported.

But Australian Nationals leader Warren Truss said the deal was unfair, as Australian exporters would be waiting years for similar reductions in their tariffs.

"All food and agricultural products entering Australia from ASEAN countries will be tariff-free but Australia’s exports to ASEAN will continue to face steep tariff barriers for decades," Mr Truss said.

"Many ASEAN tariffs will never be removed.

"Australian products will continue to be penalised by tariffs on arrival, further damaging our meagre market share in the region," he said.