Media release from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

D18 - Thursday, 21 November 2002

Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement: Call for Submissions

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade's Office of Trade Negotiations invites public submissions and comment on issues relevant to the negotiations for a Free Trade agreement (FTA) between Australia and the United States.

Prime Minister John Howard, Trade Minister Mark Vaile, and US Trade Representative Robert Zoellick announced on 14 November that Australia and the United States would start negotiations to conclude an FTA. Mr Vaile also announced the Department would invite public submissions.

While the precise scope of the agreement will be determined during the negotiation process, in broad terms its aim will be to liberalise trade in goods and services, facilitate trade and investment and address government-level impediments to increased commercial exchanges.

The Office of Trade Negotiations will lead and coordinate the Government's approach to the negotiations with the United States. The Government will give high priority to the views and expertise of different groups on issues to be covered by the negotiations. It will consult widely, including with business, interested organisations and the general public, as it develops Australia's negotiating position.

The deadline for receiving submissions is 15 January 2003. A background paper on the Australia-United States FTA proposal, including information on issues that might be covered in an agreement, and studies on the benefits and implications of an Australia-US FTA, is available via DFAT's website at: www.dfat.gov.au/trade/negotiations/us.html.

Submissions may be lodged electronically at us.fta@dfat.gov.au or by post at the following address:

US FTA Task Force
Office of Trade Negotiations
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
BARTON ACT 0221

Submission enquiries:

Ph: (02) 6261 2019/ 1811
Fax: (02) 6261 3514

Media enquiries: Nicole Guihot, DFAT Media Liaison Section, 02 6261 1555