The China–Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA) was signed in June 2015 and entered into force on 20 December 2015, providing significant improvements in market access for Australia in our largest export market.
The department led whole-of-government efforts to secure ChAFTA’s early entry into force before the end of the year, appearing twice with other agencies before the Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT). We explained the outcomes of the agreement, answered questions from committee members and responded to stakeholder views. JSCOT subsequently recommended bringing ChAFTA into force. The department then supported the completion of domestic processes, including legislative amendments. We also liaised closely with China on completion of its domestic processes.
Achieving entry into force in December 2015 delivered quick wins for Australian goods exporters through two early tariff cuts: one on entry into force and one on 1 January 2016. It also delivered enhanced access to China’s services sector and improved commitments on two-way investment.
The department released a range of explanatory materials, including a step-by-step Guide to Exporting and Importing under ChAFTA. We responded to a large number of inquiries through the department’s FTA hotline and ChAFTA email inbox. Our outreach efforts helped business take early advantage of the FTA’s outcomes.
We worked closely with Chinese government agencies and Australian business stakeholders to quickly address implementation issues as they have arisen. Early trade data indicates strong uptake by business, with impressive growth in exports of many Australian products where tariffs are being cut. To maintain this positive momentum, we have already started work with China to take forward ChAFTA’s ambitious built-in agenda.