Newsletter Update 9
Australia-Japan Free Trade Agreement‚ Ninth Negotiating Round
The ninth round of negotiations on the Australia-Japan Free Trade Agreement (FTA) was held in Canberra from 27 to 31 July.
Discussions on services and investment focused on further development of chapter texts, while the two sides continued to exchange information and broaden their understanding of each other's initial services and market access requests. Australia continued to signal the importance of achieving commercially meaningful outcomes, particularly in our priority interests of financial services, telecommunications, legal services and education.
On trade in services, both sides had a constructive exchange of views on proposed text. Progress was made on the movement of natural persons (covering temporary entry of businesspeople into Australia or Japan for work purposes). Both sides had good discussions on financial services, including an initial exchange of views on Australia's interests in the area of cross-border financial services. Japan formally agreed to the inclusion of a telecommunications chapter in the FTA, which is a very positive development. Australia continued to underline strong commercial interest in specific areas.
On investment, we made further progress on negotiating the chapter text, but there remain some difficult issues such as the application of the chapter to subsidies.
In the goods market access discussions, the two sides focused on interests and sensitivities on pet food, seafood and horticultural products. Australia explained its significant interests in improving the market access conditions in each of these areas. Given the constraints on Australia's production capacity, growing domestic demand, and our other overseas markets, we demonstrated that removing tariffs or import quota conditions would not seriously impact Japan's production. Japan emphasised that any improvements in market access for Australia would have a significant effect on Japan's domestic agricultural industry.
The two sides resumed discussion on the trade in goods chapter by undertaking a stocktake of the chapter and identifying those areas that will require further work.
Building on the good progress made previously on rules of origin, we have now agreed the basic approach and much of the chapter text for these. The two sides also continued to discuss the product specific rules of origin, which will be annexed to the chapter, and were able to agree the specific rules that will apply to most (non-sensitive) industrial goods, although not at this stage those for agriculture. The issues of certification and verification of origin were also put aside at this round, and reconciling the two sides' different approaches remains a challenge.
On customs procedures, the two sides agreed to consider alternative text formulations for the few remaining outstanding issues with a view to finalising the chapter text.
Both sides were able to indicate areas of flexibility and agree on additional common text in the session on the technical barriers to trade chapter.
In the session on energy and mineral resources, the two sides discussed some possible ways to approach Japan's objective of ensuring security of supply while noting at the same time the complexities involved in this area.
Australia and Japan also continued to explore on a without prejudice basis possible options to address Japan's interests in stable food supply.
Good progress was made in the intellectual property chapter negotiations. Discussions were held based on the draft negotiating text and proposals made by both sides. Substantial agreement has been reached on a majority of provisions covering industrial property, copyright, review processes, transparency, and enforcement.
Modest progress was made on government procurement, with the task of finding more general language which can reflect both sides' national procurement systems, to be the focus of the next round.
On electronic commerce, continued progress was made on chapter text. Particularly detailed discussions were held on customs duties, digital products, electronic authentication and electronic certificates, and paperless trading.
We also continued to make progress on competition policy, dispute settlement and other legal and institutional issues.
We welcome input on issues of relevance to the Australia-Japan FTA negotiations. For further information, please email JapanFTA@dfat.gov.au.