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Australian Government - Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Advancing the interests of Australia and Australians internationally

Australian Government - Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Advancing the interests of Australia and Australians internationally

1.1.7 Bilateral, regional and multilateral trade negotiations

Overview

The department supported the Government's strong commitment to advancing global trade reform and liberalisation. It supported the Government's participation in the G20, APEC and the OECD to strengthen international support for trade liberalisation and advocated 'new pathways' in World Trade Organization Doha Round negotiations to achieve some key outcomes for the Round in the near future. We supported the Minister for Trade and Competitiveness, Dr Emerson, in his efforts to combat protectionism, including helping to secure strong anti-protectionist pledges from G20 and APEC leaders as well as a group of 50 countries at the WTO Ministerial Meeting in December 2011.

The department also pursued an active, wider multilateral trade agenda, including leading exploratory discussions on a new trade reform initiative in services and advocating the conclusion of a trade facilitation agreement, participation in WTO disputes and the ongoing monitoring and transparency requirements associated with the WTO Agreements.

Consistent with the Government's 2011 trade policy statement, the department supported negotiations for high-quality, truly liberalising bilateral and regional trade agreements that do not detract from, but support, the multilateral system.

We are working to advance deeper regional economic integration, including through advocating trade facilitation and economic reform. The department pursued this agenda through participation in APEC and ASEAN-related forums, as well as through free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP).

Photo of The Minister for Trade and Competitiveness, Dr Emerson, addresses the media following a meeting of OECD trade ministers hosted by Dr Emerson in Paris. He is flanked by Mr Pascal Lamy, Director-General of the World Trade Organization (left), and Mr Ron Kirk, US Trade Representative (right), with Mr Ed Fast, Canadian Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway (far left), May 2012.

The Minister for Trade and Competitiveness, Dr Emerson, addresses the media following a meeting of OECD trade ministers hosted by Dr Emerson in Paris. He is flanked by Mr Pascal Lamy, Director-General of the World Trade Organization (left), and Mr Ron Kirk, US Trade Representative (right), with Mr Ed Fast, Canadian Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway (far left), May 2012.

Multilateral trade liberalisation and the WTO Doha Round negotiations

Eleven years of talks to conclude the Doha Round has prompted a re-evaluation of the traditional approach taken to the negotiations. During 2011–12, the department played a leading role in progressing Australia's interests including advocating a new approach to the WTO Doha Round.

Australia was vocal in promoting the need for 'new pathways' to achieve an outcome in the Doha negotiations. The proposed approach included the Round being broken into more manageable components with a view to early implementation of those elements close to completion and the possibility of pursuing plurilateral (or multi-country) negotiations on other aspects where feasible.

The Cairns Group Ministerial Meeting in Saskatoon, Canada, in September 2011 provided a stage for the first ministerial-level discussion of the need for a new approach to the Round. The meeting communiqué recognised the need for fresh thinking on common problems in the Round and acknowledged the need to develop a realistic pathway to capitalise in particular on the substantial progress already made in the WTO Doha Round agriculture negotiations. The department continued to lead Cairns Group work in Geneva in support of re-engagement in the WTO agriculture negotiations and in reinvigorating and reviewing the priorities of the WTO Regular Committee on Agriculture. The department's efforts aimed to ensure that agriculture remained central to the multilateral trade reform agenda.

The Prime Minister won support for Australia's idea of 'new pathways' for the Doha Round, including at the G20 and APEC Summits in late 2011. Dr Emerson pursued these ideas at the WTO Eighth Ministerial Conference in Geneva in December 2011 and the World Economic Forum in January 2012. The department played an active role in the Government's efforts to secure international support for these approaches.

In the margins of the Eighth Ministerial Conference, Australia also took the lead in a group of over 50 countries making a pledge to combat protectionism. The pledge called in the strongest terms on governments to fight all forms of protectionism, including barriers to trade in goods and services, new export restrictions or implementing WTO inconsistent measures in all areas including those that stimulate exports.

The department was responsible for organising an informal ministerial gathering on the WTO, hosted by Dr Emerson, in the margins of the OECD Ministerial Council Meeting in Paris in May 2012. The meeting highlighted some possible areas for early conclusion in the Round, in particular the negotiations for an agreement on trade facilitation, and improving access to the WTO for the world's least developed economies. Further work in the services sector was also discussed.

The department has been active in progressing a global agreement on trade facilitation. Such an agreement would lead to WTO Members adopting more modern, efficient customs clearance procedures and would encourage greater cooperation between customs and other border agencies of WTO Members. This would markedly reduce the time it takes for goods to be processed and cleared, resulting in real reductions in trading costs. It is estimated that a trade facilitation agreement could account for 44 per cent of all the potential benefits of the Doha Round, with two-thirds of these accruing to developing countries.

Given the growing role of services in economic growth and development, the department has been leading new exploratory talks on global services trade reform. These discussions have focused on a plurilateral initiative to advance liberalisation in the services sector. The initiative is currently being discussed among those WTO members genuinely interested in services reform. Our objective is to broaden participation in the initiative over time and provide impetus for further multilateral reform.

Negotiations on an expanded Information Technology Agreement (ITA) were launched in Geneva in May 2012. The department has played an active role in the negotiations which have focused to date on expanding the product coverage of the ITA to eliminate tariffs on new IT products and developing non-binding principles on non-tariff barriers.

The department continued to advocate global trade reform as a way to support developing countries' sustainable development by helping them better reap the benefits of international trade. In addition, we worked closely with AusAID to continue the Government's strong support for trade-related development assistance that helps developing countries engage in the multilateral trading system and regional trade initiatives. In December 2011, the Government announced $16 million in new trade-related development assistance (or aid for trade) to help developing and least developed countries to benefit through global trade, including in key areas such as trade development and building productive capacity.

The department managed the process for Australia to become a member of the Advisory Centre on WTO Law, an intergovernmental Geneva-based organisation that provides legal services on WTO law to developing countries, including support in WTO dispute settlement proceedings. Trade officials from South-East Asia, Africa and Latin America were invited to Canberra for the biannual Trade Policy Course, which included a focus on development issues.

Supporting trade liberalisation in other international bodies

The department was active in pursuing the Government's trade liberalisation goals in the G20, APEC and the OECD. We supported Dr Emerson's and the Prime Minister's involvement in these forums, where they highlighted the positive linkages between trade, growth and jobs, as well as the risks of protectionism in an increasingly inter-connected global economy (also see Trade development and policy coordination 1.1.8).

We also supported Dr Emerson during the annual OECD Ministerial Council Meeting in Paris, where he focused on the contribution trade can make to global economic growth and jobs (also see Trade development and policy coordination 1.1.8).

The department was active in pursuing positive outcomes on trade issues at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in June 2012, and participated in negotiations on trade-related matters at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change meeting in Durban in November–December 2011. We worked with the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry to take forward work on the Government's Illegal Logging Prohibition Bill 2011.

Other multilateral trade policy issues

Compliance and dispute settlement

The department leads Australia's participation in the WTO dispute settlement system.

In August 2011, Australia adopted relevant measures in relation to the import of apples from New Zealand to enable resolution of the dispute over Australia's quarantine measures for apples from New Zealand.

In the second quarter of 2012, Australia held dispute settlement consultations with Ukraine and Honduras, at their request, in relation to Australia's measures on tobacco plain packaging. Consultations are the first step in formal dispute settlement proceedings.

Australia participated as a third party in key WTO disputes in which Australia has commercial and policy interests. These included a dispute involving the United States, Canada and Mexico in respect of country of origin labelling requirements applicable to beef products; a dispute involving Canada, Japan and the European Union relating to the provision of subsidies to the renewable energy sector; and a dispute between the United States and China concerning the provision of electronic payment services.

The department managed Australia's active engagement in the negotiations on the review of the WTO's dispute settlement system. We provided advice to other Commonwealth Government agencies, and to state and territory governments, on Australia's commitments under the WTO and free trade agreements, and their applicability to policy proposals or amendments.

WTO accessions

The department was heavily involved in concluding bilateral negotiations respectively with Russia, Vanuatu and Samoa for their accession to the World Trade Organization. The successful accession of Russia, which officially became a WTO Member in August 2012, completed 18 years of negotiations, and will result in significant market access opportunities for our agriculture, resources and services sectors. The department's efforts in assisting Vanuatu and Samoa to conclude their respective WTO accessions continues a long history of Australian support for the Pacific region in terms of trade development and promotion. Samoa became an official WTO Member in May 2012, and Vanuatu became a Member in August 2012.

In line with the Doha Development Agenda, Ministers at the Eighth Ministerial Conference in Geneva recognised the importance of enhancing the ability of the world's poorest countries to join the World Trade Organization and enjoy the benefits of the global trading system. In July 2012, WTO Members adopted guidelines to this end. Australia played an active and constructive role in negotiating these guidelines.

Intellectual property

Following the conclusion of negotiations in 2010, Dr Emerson signed the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) in Tokyo on 1 October 2011. The treaty was tabled in Parliament on 21 November 2011 for consideration by the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT). The department appeared twice before JSCOT, which tabled its report on ACTA on 27 June 2012. We are now working with other agencies to assist the Government in preparing its response to the Committee's recommendations.

Working closely with other agencies, we continued our active participation in negotiations on intellectual property issues in the WTO, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and in bilateral and plurilateral FTAs. Australia supported an extension of the mandate of WIPO's Intergovernmental Committee on Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Traditional Cultural Expressions, with a view to the committee making recommendations on appropriate international arrangements in these areas. On 15 June 2012, Australia's Ambassador to the WTO signed a memorandum of understanding with WIPO Director-General Dr Francis Gurry, detailing how a $2 million Australian contribution would assist least-developed and developing countries improve their intellectual property systems.

Photo of Assistant Secretary of East Asia Branch, Mr John Langtry (third from right), with Mr Liu Linlin (fourth from right), Counsellor, Department of American and Oceanic Affairs, Chinese Ministry of Commerce attend the inaugural Services Sector Promotion Forum in Beijing in May 2012, with (from right to left) Mr Samuel Hurley, DFAT, Mr Trevor Holloway and Dr Kylie Brown, Australian Embassy Beijing, Mr Fang Hao, Chinese Ministry of Commerce, Ms Christine Schaeffer, DFAT, and Mr Wang Bo, Chinese Ministry of Commerce.

Assistant Secretary of East Asia Branch, Mr John Langtry (third from right), with Mr Liu Linlin (fourth from right), Counsellor, Department of American and Oceanic Affairs, Chinese Ministry of Commerce attend the inaugural Services Sector Promotion Forum in Beijing in May 2012, with (from right to left) Mr Samuel Hurley, DFAT, Mr Trevor Holloway and Dr Kylie Brown, Australian Embassy Beijing, Mr Fang Hao, Chinese Ministry of Commerce, Ms Christine Schaeffer, DFAT, and Mr Wang Bo, Chinese Ministry of Commerce.

Personal Profile:

Michael Mugliston PSM

As Special Negotiator in the Free Trade Agreement Division, Michael Mugliston has, since 2005, led Australia's trade negotiations with South-East Asia, including the successful conclusion of free trade agreements with ASEAN and New Zealand (AANZFTA, 2005–09), and Malaysia (MAFTA, 2005–06 and 2009–12).

Michael's contribution to advancing Australia's trade agenda was recognised in 2010 with the awarding of the Public Service Medal for leading the AANZFTA negotiations.

Michael is currently heading Australia's involvement in the implementation work program for AANZFTA and is lead negotiator for Australia's Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement with Indonesia. He is also leading Australia's participation in talks between ASEAN and its six FTA partners on possible next steps in regional economic integration.

Before taking up his current duties Michael held a number of senior positions in Canberra and overseas, including Deputy Head of Mission in Brussels (2001–04) and Counsellor at Australia's Mission to the GATT, Geneva (1991–94).

Photo of Mr Michael Mugliston PSM, with Mr J Jayasiri, Multilateral Policy and Negotiations Division, Ministry of International Trade and Industry Malaysia, and Mr Mohammad Radhi Abdul Razak, Trade Practices, Ministry of International Trade and Industry Malaysia, at MAFTA negotiations in May 2012.

Mr Michael Mugliston PSM, with Mr J Jayasiri, Multilateral Policy and Negotiations Division, Ministry of International Trade and Industry Malaysia, and Mr Mohammad Radhi Abdul Razak, Trade Practices, Ministry of International Trade and Industry Malaysia, at MAFTA negotiations in May 2012.

"The opportunity to lead Australia's teams negotiating regional trade agreements over the past seven years has been both challenging and rewarding. While long experience working on trade policy was helpful in preparing for the FTA negotiations, managing the complexity of the issues and policies engaged by such negotiations was not something I think anyone can anticipate. I, and DFAT, have been fortunate to have had such a highly professional team of colleagues who have risen to every challenge. Working on FTAs with a diverse range of countries, at such a dynamic time for the region, and for our relations with it, has been particularly satisfying."

Free trade agreement negotiations

Australia continues to advance an active free trade agreement agenda through negotiating and implementing FTAs. The department is responsible for leading whole-of-government negotiating teams and consulting extensively with domestic stakeholders including the state and territory governments.

As at 30 June 2012, Australia had in force bilateral FTAs with New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand, the United States and Chile; and a regional agreement with New Zealand and ASEAN. In May 2012, the Malaysia–Australia Free Trade Agreement was signed by both governments and procedures are underway with the aim of bringing it into force by early 2013. As at 30 June 2012, the department was pursuing FTA negotiations with the Republic of Korea (ROK), China, Japan, India, Indonesia, the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement negotiating parties, the Pacific Island Forum countries (PACER Plus) and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

The department was involved in preparatory work on ASEAN's proposed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership—an ASEAN-centred regional FTA—aimed initially at including ASEAN countries plus ASEAN's existing FTA partners (Australia–New Zealand, China, Japan, the ROK and India) in a new trade agreement.

Malaysia Free Trade Agreement

The signing of the Malaysia–Australia Free Trade Agreement (MAFTA) was a significant milestone in Australia's economic relationship with Malaysia, our tenth-largest trading partner. We supported Dr Emerson in finalising MAFTA negotiations and preparing for treaty signature.

Negotiations concluded at Dr Emerson's meeting with his Malaysian counterpart, Dato' Sri Mustapa Mohamed in March 2012 – within the timeframe agreed by Prime Minister Gillard and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak in March 2011. Dr Emerson signed the treaty in Kuala Lumpur on 22 May 2012. Industry reactions were overwhelmingly positive.

The department was involved in finalising and verifying the treaty text and schedules of commitments on tariffs, services and movement of natural persons. We also prepared a series of industry fact sheets detailing the main MAFTA outcomes which were released on the department's website immediately after the Agreement was signed, together with a full copy of the text of the Agreement. MAFTA will enter into force as soon as both Australia and Malaysia have completed their respective domestic approval processes (also see South-East Asia 1.1.2).

Key outcomes for Australia from MAFTA

The Malaysia–Australia Free Trade Agreement (MAFTA) improves on Malaysia's commitments to Australia under the regional ASEAN–Australia–New Zealand FTA, including through significant market access gains for Australian goods exporters and services suppliers, and greater ease of doing business in Malaysia.

From MAFTA's entry into force, tariff-free access will apply to 97.6 per cent of 2009–11 average imports into Malaysia from Australia, increasing to 98.9 per cent in 2016 and 99 per cent in 2017. Specific outcomes include:

  • for the automotive sector, elimination of all tariffs on large cars and virtually all tariffs on auto parts on entry into force of the agreement, with tariffs on smaller cars eliminated by 2016, and removal of quantitative restrictions on motor vehicle imports from Australia;
  • on iron and steel, tariff-free treatment for 96.4 per cent of recent imports into Malaysia from Australia by 2016, rising to 99.9 per cent by 2017 and 100 per cent by 2020;
  • on plastics, chemicals, and a range of processed foods and manufactured products, elimination of virtually all tariffs from entry into force;
  • for Australian milk exporters, access to additional quota; and
  • for Australian rice exporters open access from 2023 and complete elimination of all tariffs by 2026.

MAFTA has business friendly rules of origin provisions. Goods exported from Australia will be able to claim MAFTA tariff treatment solely on the basis of a declaration of origin by the exporter.

Australian entities will be able to acquire majority ownership in companies supplying services across a wide range of sectors in Malaysia. This includes:

  • higher education services provided by privately funded institutions and a range of other education services;
  • investment banking and direct insurance services;
  • telecommunications services;
  • accounting, auditing, bookkeeping and management consulting services; and
  • mining-related services, taxation services, tourism and travel related services, and research and development services.

Under MAFTA, more Australian executives and senior managers will be able to work in Malaysia and stay for longer periods. MAFTA will also provide stronger protection for intellectual property rights; establish a framework for mutual recognition of qualifications and licencing requirements for professionals; and facilitate electronic commerce.

Ongoing negotiations

Republic of Korea Free Trade Agreement

Since negotiations commenced in May 2009, the department has continued to engage very closely with the Republic of Korea. The department led negotiating sessions in July, September, October 2011 and May 2012. Although we were unable to meet the timeframe set out by Prime Minister Gillard and Korean President Lee Myung-bak in April 2011 to conclude FTA negotiations by the end of 2011, both leaders have reaffirmed the commitment to conclude negotiations as soon as possible.

The department has supported significant ongoing ministerial contact in support of the FTA throughout the year. Now that the Korea–United States Agreement has entered into force and the Korean National Assembly elections have concluded, we expect to intensify our negotiations to finalise a comprehensive, high-quality and liberalising deal with Korea. With most of the agreement text agreed, negotiations are in the concluding stages (also see North Asia 1.1.1).

China Free Trade Agreement

The Government continued to pursue an FTA with China, which would further strengthen our commercial relationship. The department led Australia's negotiating team during three more rounds of negotiations (July and November 2011 and March 2012). Australia hosted two of these rounds. Departmental officials conducted additional high-level discussions in February and May 2012.

We supported high-level political engagement with Chinese leaders to discuss options for accelerating the FTA, in particular Dr Emerson's meetings with China's Commerce Minister Chen Deming in Canberra in April 2012, Beijing and Paris in May 2012 and in June on the margins of the APEC meetings (also see North Asia 1.1.1).

Japan Free Trade Agreement

Following a slowdown in negotiations after the devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan (March 2011), Prime Minister Gillard and Japanese Prime Minister Noda reaffirmed their goal of a high-level FTA at the East Asia Summit (EAS) in November 2011. FTA negotiations with Japan intensified during 2012. Leading an inter-agency team, the department continued to make steady progress with Japan across our comprehensive negotiating agenda. Four further rounds of negotiations were held (in December 2011, and February, April and June 2012). Australia hosted two of these rounds. The department supported continued discussion at ministerial-level including during Senator Carr's and Dr Emerson's visits to Japan in May–June 2012 (also see North Asia 1.1.1).

India Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement

By the end of June 2012, the department had led three negotiating rounds for the Australia–India Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement. The inaugural round of negotiations was hosted by India in July 2011; subsequent rounds were hosted by Australia in November 2011 and May 2012. Initial rounds made useful progress on the broad structure of the agreement. Stakeholder consultations on the proposed agreement have been conducted across the states and territories. The department will continue to accept submissions from stakeholders to help inform Australia's approach to market access priorities (also see South and West Asia, Middle East and Africa 1.1.5).

Indonesia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement

The department engaged in stakeholder consultations for the Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (IA–CEPA) and received written submissions from interested parties. The Agreement Establishing the ASEAN–Australia–New Zealand Free Trade Area's (AANZFTA) entry into force for Indonesia on 10 January 2012 meant that pre-negotiation consultations could move to formal negotiations. The IA–CEPA will cover trade, investment and economic cooperation issues and will build upon both parties' AANZFTA commitments. Australia and Indonesia implemented IA–CEPA economic cooperation activities over the pre-negotiation period. In May 2012, the department welcomed the collaborative support of Australian and Indonesian chambers of commerce and bilateral business associations who agreed to form a joint Business Partnership Group to support the negotiations (also see South-East Asia 1.1.2).

Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement

We continued to lead Australia's participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) negotiations, with 13 rounds completed since March 2010. Leaders of TPP countries announced in November 2011 that agreement on the broad outlines of the TPP had been reached and endorsed the report that had been received from TPP trade ministers, including a commitment to a comprehensive, ambitious TPP which eliminates tariffs and other barriers to trade and investment. TPP negotiations are on track to substantially conclude a significant proportion of the legal text in 2012. The department actively pursued domestic consultations regarding the interest of Canada, Mexico and Japan joining the TPP negotiations. In June 2012 current parties to the agreement—Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam—agreed by consensus to Canada and Mexico joining the initiative.

Gulf Cooperation Council Free Trade Agreement

The department has been working to secure an early resumption of free trade agreement negotiations with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) – a customs union comprising Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. We commenced free trade agreement negotiations with the GCC in 2007 and there have been four negotiating rounds. Negotiations have been suspended since June 2009 owing to the GCC's internal review of its FTA negotiations with all partners. The review has been completed and its recommendations have been submitted to GCC ministers for consideration. The department will continue to lobby for resumption of negotiations, as the GCC remains an important market for a diverse range of Australian goods and services exports, and an important source of foreign investment (also see South and West Asia, Middle East and Africa 1.1.5).

Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER) Plus

Pacific Islands Forum Leaders agreed in September 2011 that progress in the PACER Plus negotiations was a priority. The department hosted and chaired negotiations at the follow-up session in Australia in March 2012. With support from the department, Mr Marles, Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs and Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs, represented Australia at the Pacific Islands Forum Trade Ministers' Meeting in May 2012 and reached agreement with regional counterparts on a work program to intensify the PACER Plus negotiations (also see Pacific 1.1.6).

Personal Profile:

Rachel Dunstone

Photo of Rachel Dunstone (left) and Austrade colleague Julianne Merriman (right) on a visit with the Ambassador to a local community health centre in East Java.

Rachel Dunstone (left) and Austrade colleague Julianne Merriman (right) on a visit with the Ambassador to a local community health centre in East Java.

Rachel Dunstone left Hong Kong's investment banking world in 2005 and joined DFAT as a trade and economic policy specialist. She served a stint in Canberra working on trade policy then returned to her home town of Sydney as Deputy Director in the New South Wales State Office.

Now working as First Secretary at the Embassy in Jakarta's economic section, Rachel has put her private sector background to good use in pursuing Australia's interests in the high stakes of Indonesia's complex trade and economic policy environment, especially as talks move ahead on the Indonesia–Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement.

"For Australia, there's great potential to expand our trade and investment relationship with Indonesia."

"The variety of work we do here is incredible. In any week, the topics that cross our desks can be anything from bilateral trade, agriculture, mining, forestry and fisheries to sea law, climate change, the WTO and the G20."

"But the most unexpected outcome of my posting to Jakarta—as a city girl—has been the opportunity to become an expert on the live cattle trade in Indonesia. I've really enjoyed working with representatives of the livestock industry."

Framework for Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership

The department has been taking a keen interest in Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) approaches to further economic integration. In November 2011, ASEAN leaders endorsed a Framework for Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). The RCEP would be a regional FTA, building on the AANZFTA, including initially ASEAN and its FTA partners. It would be open to broader participation in the future. At their April 2012 Summit, ASEAN leaders committed to the establishment of working groups on trade in goods, services and investment as soon as possible and to the launch of negotiations by the end of 2012 towards an RCEP.

Implementation of existing free trade agreements

The Agreement Establishing the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)–Australia–New Zealand Free Trade Area (AANZFTA) entered into force for Indonesia on 10 January 2012. The Agreement is now in force for all twelve signatories. We supported Australia's role as host of the fourth meeting of the AANZFTA Committee on Trade in Goods, including a workshop reviewing non-tariff measures, in December 2011. The department also supported Australia's role as co-chair of the fourth meeting of the FTA Joint Committee in Brunei in May 2012 to oversee implementation of AANZFTA. We pursued Australia's interests in resolving practical implementation issues and developing economic cooperation activities to support effective implementation and further regional economic integration.

The department continued to oversee implementation of the Australia–Chile FTA which entered into force in March 2009. The department worked with Chilean authorities to clarify Spanish language labelling requirements for beef exported to Chile under the 2010 Beef Grading MOU that was a commitment under the FTA. Beef was Australia's second-largest export to Chile in 2011.

We continued to utilise mechanisms provided under the Australia–United States Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA), now in its eighth year of operation. In collaboration with the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, the department hosted meetings of the AUSFTA Agriculture, and Sanitary and Phytosanitary Committees in Canberra in March 2012 to advance resolution of a number of market access issues relating to agricultural and food products.

We concluded the first treaty-level amendment to AUSFTA, which modifies the Rules of Origin for certain clothing yarns traded with the United States to deliver benefits to Australian manufacturers. The department continued to work with both federal and state and territory authorities to review the operation of the government procurement chapter under AUSFTA (also see Americas 1.1.3).

The department led Australia's delegation to the third Thailand–Australia Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA) Joint Commission held in Bangkok in June 2012, which advanced the general review of TAFTA and the review of its provisions on special agricultural safeguards (also see South-East Asia 1.1.2).

In 2011–12 the department completed formal domestic treaty processes leading to the entry into force of amendments from the second Ministerial Review of the Singapore–Australia FTA (SAFTA) on 2 September 2011 (also see South-East Asia 1.1.2).

The department also played a major role in negotiating the outcomes of the 2008–2010 review of the Australia–New Zealand Closer Economic Agreement (ANZCERTA) Rules of Origin amendments to Article 3. New legislation was enacted (on 30 April 2012) to simplify bilateral trade rules to make them more consistent with Australia and New Zealand's other free trade agreements (also see Pacific 1.1.6).

Outlook

While a conclusion to the entire Doha Round may not be feasible in the short term, the department will continue to pursue possible outcomes of various components of the agenda in line with the Government's 'new pathways' approach. The department will work towards a conclusion to negotiations on trade facilitation and continue to play a lead role in efforts at the WTO to pursue liberalisation of global services markets. We will actively participate in negotiations underway to expand the WTO Information Technology Agreement. In addition, the department will continue to advocate conclusion to WTO discussions on improved accession processes for the world's poorest countries.

Working with other Government agencies and WTO Members, the department will continue to support the institution of the WTO and the many important functions it carries out in oversight of the global trading system, including its role in resisting protectionist tendencies and promoting open markets.

The department will lead the processes required for the entry into force of the Malaysia–Australia FTA (expected early 2013). We will continue negotiations across the FTA agenda and seek to conclude the Korea–Australia FTA. The department will continue to lead Australia's participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement negotiations and work to achieve significant progress during 2012. Bilateral negotiations with Japan and China will intensify and the department will seek to progress negotiations with India and the GCC. Now that AANZFTA has entered into force for Indonesia, the Indonesia–Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement negotiations will commence.

Photo of The Minister for Trade, Dr Emerson, with Canada's Minister for Agriculture, Mr Gerry Ritz, at the Cairns Group Ministerial Meeting in Saskatoon, Canada, in September 2011.

The Minister for Trade, Dr Emerson, with Canada's Minister for Agriculture, Mr Gerry Ritz, at the Cairns Group Ministerial Meeting in Saskatoon, Canada, in September 2011.

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade