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Overview

This Agreement, which entered into force on 1 January 2005, represents a landmark in improving Australia's trade and investment relationship with the world's largest and richest economy, and most significant merchandise and services exporter and importer.

This Agreement significantly improves Australia's attractiveness as a destination for US investment, important for our efforts to maintain Australia at the leading edge of growth and competitiveness.

For our export industries, the Agreement provides some important advances in liberalising access to a key market – in many cases the increased export opportunities will help to underpin the prosperity of our export sectors

At the same time, we have secured important Australian interests in areas such as health, in particular the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, foreign investment screening, the audio-visual sector and our quarantine and food safety regimes.

For our manufacturers …

  • Duties on more than 97 per cent of US non-agricultural tariff lines (excluding textiles and clothing) became duty free from day one of the Agreement.
  • Access to the US Federal Government procurement market valued at over US$535 billion a year (2011).
  • The 25 percent tariff on light commercial vehicles that previously kept Australian utes out of the US market was removed immediately.
  • Our auto parts industry exports to the United States can benefit from the immediate elimination of tariffs.
  • The 50 percent tariff on merchant ship repairs and maintenance, part of the US's maritime protection under the Jones Act, was removed.

For our farmers and our food processors …

  • About 66 per cent of agriculture tariffs went to zero immediately, with a further 9 percent dropped to zero on 1 January 2008.
  • Our duty free beef quota will be substantially increased – growing by 18.5 per cent over 18 years, with over-quota beef exports benefiting from reduced duty from 2013, ahead of unlimited duty free access commencing in 2023.
  • Our lamb and sheep meat producers had most tariffs reduced to zero immediately, with the rest becoming duty free in 2008.
  • Our exports of quota constrained dairy to the US will receive relief through guaranteed annual quota increases.
  • Australia got immediate zero tariff treatment for horticulture products such as oranges, mangoes, mandarins, strawberries, tomatoes, cut flowers, and fresh macadamias.
  • For the first time, avocados from Australia have access to the US market, of up to 4000 tonnes per year.
  • For cereals, we received immediate zero tariffs for wheat and cereal flour mixes.
  • Processed foods tariffs reduced to zero in 2008 for a range of fruit juices and for baby foods.
  • For our wool industry, an industry priority of zero tariff for greasy wool was achieved in 2008, and for other wool items within 10 years (2014).
  • Our wine producers will have the benefit, in what is already a major market, of all tariffs reducing to zero in 2015.
  • Our peanut industry, which previously had no access to the US market, received a quota of 500 tonnes in 2005, expanding over time.
  • Australian seafood exports received duty free treatment upon entry into force.
  • Immediate removal of a 35 per cent tariff on canned tuna provided duty free access to the US market.

For our service providers …

  • Australian services exports to the United States received legal protections that guarantee market access and non-discriminatory treatment.
  • We have important commitments ensuring non-discrimination against Australian service suppliers in a market of more than 300 million people – a valuable improvement on the commitments we had from the United States in the WTO.
  • We have secured a robust framework that should promote the mutual recognition of qualifications in professional services. Problems with recognition of qualifications can be a major hindrance for the export of professional services.
  • Australia is a net exporter of education services to the United States, which benefits not only our universities, but all businesses that provide services to US students when they live in Australia.
  • We now have a framework for cooperation in financial services linking us into the largest financial services market in the world.
  • Recognising the value of pursuing more liberal air services arrangements, we negotiated a bilateral Open Skies Agreement in 2008.
  • In telecommunications, we have commitments on market access and a solid framework for pro-competitive regulation, as well as a mechanism for continuing engagement.

For our miners and metal producers …

  • All metals and minerals became duty free upon entry into force.

For our creative industries …

  • Closer harmonisation of Australian and US intellectual property laws benefit Australian exporters, by creating a more familiar and certain legal environment, and Australian innovators, and by helping them to attract US investment.
  • Australian copyright industries (including publishing, filmmaking and music) benefit from an extended term of copyright protection, an expeditious process that allows for copyright owners, Internet Service Providers and subscribers to deal with allegedly infringing copyright material on the Internet, and agreed criminal standards for copyright infringement.
  • Australia and the United States will work to further reduce differences in laws and practices relating to patents, trademarks and designs, to further assist our right holders to protect their intellectual property in the US market
  • The AUSFTA demonstrates to our trading partners the benefits of strong intellectual property laws and reinforces Australia's reputation as one of the world's leading countries in protecting and enforcing intellectual property rights.
  • Australia retains the flexibility to implement the Agreement in a way that meets our domestic circumstances, for example, providing a mechanism to introduce public interest exceptions in relation to technological protection measures

And for all our exporters …

  • Australia gains the benefit of preferred status as an FTA partner with regard to any future global safeguard actions – that is, we will be exempted from safeguard restrictions almost automatically, just as Canada was for steel and lamb.
  • The US will waive the Merchandise Processing Fee levied on all imports, a saving to Australian industry of about US$10 million a year.
Last Updated: 14 November 2012
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