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Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement - Guide to the Agreement

Statement of Australian Objectives

On 3 March 2003, the Minister for Trade, Mark Vaile, announced Australia's
objectives for the negotiations.

Free trade leads to higher economic growth, better living standards and
more and better job opportunities. The Government is committed to
negotiating a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the United States that will
reduce restrictions on the ability of the two countries to do business with
each other. Australia will aim to ensure that the outcomes of the
FTA negotiations complement and reinforce our objectives in the Doha Round
of World Trade Organisation (WTO) negotiations and in Asia Pacific Economic
Cooperation (APEC) forums, and set a high standard for other FTAs in the
region. Australia's shared approach with the United States on many
issues in both the WTO and APEC provides a strong foundation for achieving
that goal.

The higher incomes that free trade brings will enhance the ability of both
the US and Australia to achieve fundamental economic and social policy objectives. Nevertheless, the Government will ensure that outcomes from the FTA negotiations do not
impair Australia's ability to meet fundamental policy objectives in health
care, education, consumer protection, cultural policy, quarantine and environmental
policy. The Government will continue to place a high priority on consultations
with the States and Territories, industry and professional bodies and community
organisations as the negotiations proceed.

The Government's specific objectives for negotiations with the United States
are as follows:

Trade in Industrial Goods and Agriculture

  • Seek to eliminate tariffs and other barriers to trade between Australia
    and the United States on the broadest possible basis.
  • Seek the removal of tariff rate quota restrictions on Australian exports
    to the United States, including those affecting exports of beef, dairy
    products, sugar, peanuts and cotton.
  • Seek the elimination or reduction of United States agricultural subsidies
    that affect Australian exports to the United States or to third country
    markets, as well as agreement for the United States not to subsidise exports
    of agricultural products to Australia.
  • Reaffirm our commitment to work together in the WTO negotiations towards
    substantial improvements in market access globally, eliminating all export
    subsidies on agricultural products, and substantial reduction in domestic
    support for agriculture.
  • Seek the removal of legislative barriers to the export of Australian-built
    fast ferries and other vessels to the United States.
  • Secure improved market access for Australian manufactured goods by addressing
    non-tariff barriers in such areas as standards certification and technical
  • Pursue opportunities for harmonisation or mutual recognition of mandatory
    and/or voluntary technical standards.

Rules of Origin

  • Agree on a set of rules of origin that ensure that the benefits
    of preferential tariff treatment under the FTA apply only to Australian
    and US goods eligible for such treatment while avoiding unnecessary obstacles
    to trade.
  • Agree on conditions to maintain the integrity of the rules and seek
    to ensure they are not unnecessarily burdensome to administer from the
    points of view of business and government.

Quarantine / Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Measures

  • Seek to have the United States reaffirm its WTO commitments on SPS measures
    and eliminate any unjustified SPS restrictions.
  • Seek to strengthen cooperation between Australian and US quarantine
  • Seek to reinforce mutual commitment to the development and application
    of science-based quarantine measures, consistent with the WTO SPS Agreement.
  • Seek to strengthen collaboration with the US in implementing the SPS
    Agreement and to enhance cooperation with the US in relevant international
    bodies on developing international SPS standards, guidelines, and recommendations.

Trade Remedies

  • Pursue exemption of Australian products from US general safeguards legislation.
  • Seek provisions that minimise the impact of other US trade remedy laws
    on Australian exports to the US.

Customs Cooperation

  • Ensure that the customs procedures of both parties are transparent,
    efficient, and consistent and that they facilitate trade.
  • Strengthen cooperation in the investigation and prevention of infringements
    of customs law and in combating illegal trans-shipment of goods.
  • Pursue harmonisation of customs policies, data and procedures, and develop
    cooperation in such areas as customs techniques and research and development.

Trade in Services

  • Seek reduced impediments in accessing the United States market for Australian
    services suppliers such as providers of professional services, other
    business services, education services, environmental services, financial
    services and transport services.
  • Explore the scope for improvements in the recognition of the qualifications
    and experience of Australian professionals in the United States.
  • Look for opportunities to reduce any unnecessary access impediments
    imposed on Australian service suppliers by licensing requirements, standards
    or other regulations in the United States, including Australians seeking
    access to US capital markets.
  • Pursue opportunities to enhance the temporary entry of business persons
    and other Australians to the United States.
  • Ensure that the negotiations take account of Australia's cultural and
    social policy objectives, and the need for appropriate regulation and support
    measures to achieve these objectives in areas such as audiovisual media.
  • Ensure that the outcome of the negotiations does not limit the ability
    of government to provide public services, such as health, education,
    law enforcement and social services.


  • Seek an enhanced framework to govern investment flows between Australia
    and the United States that will complement the outcome of the negotiations
    in relation to trade in goods and services.
  • Look for opportunities to reduce any unnecessary impediments that licensing
    requirements, standards or other regulations in the United States impose
    on Australian investors.
  • Ensure that the negotiations take account of Australia's foreign investment
    policy, and the need for appropriate policies to encourage foreign investment,
    while addressing community concerns about foreign investment.

Intellectual Property Rights

  • Reaffirm the standards established in the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related
    Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights and other international intellectual
    property agreements to which the USA and Australia are signatories.
  • Seek to ensure that the rights of Australian holders of intellectual
    property are protected according to international standards in the US,
    including the right to be remunerated fairly for use of their works.
  • Ensure that Australia remains free to determine the appropriate legal
    regime for implementing internationally agreed intellectual property standards,
    maintaining a balance between the holders of intellectual property rights
    and the interests of users, consumers, communications carriers and distributors,
    and the education and research sectors.
  • Deepen cooperation on intellectual property issues of mutual interest,
    advancing our common objectives in multilateral intellectual property
    negotiations; and strengthening cooperation between our respective intellectual
    property agencies.
  • Explore opportunities to work with the United States to promote the
    implementation of effective and appropriate intellectual property systems
    in the Asia-Pacific region, without limiting the scope of existing activities
    of this nature.

Telecommunications and Electronic Commerce

  • Develop agreed principles in the regulation of telecommunications on
    the basis of non-discrimination, transparency, predictability, consultation
    with stakeholders and independence and autonomy of regulators.
  • Address licensing and other procedural constraints on participation
    of Australian companies in the US telecommunications market.
  • Seek to promote international Internet charging arrangements that are
    applied on fair, non-discriminatory and pro-competitive terms.
  • Seek to enhance the growth of electronic commerce in goods and services
    with the United States in terms that promote the use of electronic commerce

March 6, 2004

Australia - US Free Trade Agreement home page

Last Updated: 31 December 2012
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