Australia-Republic of Korea Free Trade Agreement negotiations

Fact Sheet: Investment

Fact Sheet: Investment [PDF 49 KB]

The Korea-Australia Free Trade Agreement (KAFTA) improves opportunities and protections for Australian investors in Korea. Under KAFTA, Korea will further open its economy to Australian investors through the progressive reduction of market access barriers in key sectors including:

  • telecommunications;
  • legal services; and
  • accounting and tax agency services.

KAFTA will provide enhanced protections and certainty for Australian investors in Korea (and equally for Korean investors in Australia) with provisions to ensure non-discrimination, and protection and security for investments. In particular:

  • all forms of investments are protected, including enterprises, shares and stocks, debt instruments, property rights and intellectual property;
  • Australian investors and investments may not be treated less favourably, in like circumstances, than Korean investors with respect to the establishment, acquisition, operation and sale of investments in Korea;
  • investments may not be expropriated or nationalised in the absence of prompt, adequate, and effective compensation; and
  • investments must be treated in accordance with an internationally accepted minimum standard of treatment, which includes obligations of fair and equitable treatment and full protection and security of investments.

These commitments can be enforced directly by Australian investors (and equally by Korean investors) through an investor-State dispute settlement mechanism (ISDS).

KAFTA will promote increased Korean investment in Australia

Korea’s total investment in Australia was worth $15.06 billion at the end of 2013.  KAFTA will promote an increase in the flow of Korean investment into Australia by raising the screening threshold at which Korean investments in non-sensitive sectors are considered by the Foreign Investment Review Board from $248 million to $1,078 million, consistent with the threshold provided to the US and New Zealand.

Under KAFTA Australia has:

  • retained the ability to screen investments in sensitive sectors, including media, telecommunications and defence related industries at lower levels; and
  • reserved policy space to screen proposals for foreign investment in agricultural land at $15 million and in agribusinesses at $53 million.

ISDS does not apply to decisions made concerning investments which are subject to review under Australia’s foreign investment policy.

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