Australia initiates FTA talks with Pacific Alliance

by Eric Schroeder
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Australia has launched Free Trade Agreement negotiations with the Pacific Alliance.
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – Australia on June 30 launched Free Trade Agreement negotiations with the Pacific Alliance, a Latin American trading bloc made up of Mexico, Chile, Peru and Colombia, said Australian Trade Minister Steven Ciobo. The move makes Australia one of the first countries to launch FTA negotiations with the Pacific Alliance.

“The Turnbull Government is seeking a comprehensive, high quality agreement to open new markets for Australian exporters,” Ciobo said. “An FTA with the Pacific Alliance will create new export opportunities for Australian farmers, miners, manufacturers, educators, service providers and investors in some of Latin America’s major economies. Importantly, this FTA will open the door to Mexico for Australian exporters.”

The Pacific Alliance’s GDP was valued at more than $1.8 trillion in 2016 and the four countries account for 38% of Latin America’s population and 57% of its total imports. The alliance’s members imported goods and services worth more than $600 billion in 2016.

But Australia’s ability to capitalize on the alliance’s demand is limited by high tariffs that block trade, Ciobo said.

“Tariffs of up to 80% are imposed on Australian beef, while dairy products attract tariffs of up to 45% and sugar attracts tariffs of more than 30%,” he said. “Australia’s services exports – including education and mining services – also face competitive barriers.”

Ciobo noted that an FTA could potentially bring down the barriers and give Australian businesses competitive access to the alliance’s markets. He said he expects Australia to conclude an agreement “relatively quickly,” and the country’s current FTA negotiations with Peru are expected to complement and reinforce the Australia-Pacific Alliance FTA.

“The Turnbull Government is committed to opening new markets for Australian businesses,” he said. “Growing our exports will drive economic growth and create new Australian jobs.”

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