First meeting of the Korea-Australia Free Trade Agreement Joint Committee
The first meeting of the Korea-Australia Free Trade Agreement (KAFTA) Joint Committee was convened in Manila on 16 November 2015 in the margins of the APEC Ministerial Meeting. The meeting was co-chaired by Justin Brown, Acting Deputy Secretary, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Tae-hee Woo, Deputy Minister for Trade, Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Energy.
- The first meeting of the Korea-Australia Free Trade Agreement (KAFTA) Joint Committee was convened in Manila on 16 November 2015 in the margins of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Ministerial Meeting. The meeting was co-chaired by Justin Brown, Acting Deputy Secretary, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Tae-hee Woo, Deputy Minister for Trade, Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Energy, on behalf of the Minister for Trade and Investment of Australia, Andrew Robb AO, and the Minister for Trade, Industry and Energy of the Republic of Korea (ROK), Yoon Sang-jick.
- The Joint Committee welcomed the smooth implementation of the KAFTA since its entry into force on 12 December 2014, and noted that both countries have been actively engaged in outreach activities to maximize the utilisation of the KAFTA by Australian and Korean businesses. Both sides shared the view that while it is too early to make a thorough assessment of the KAFTA, the increased volume of exports in key products, such as Korean passenger and goods vehicles and metal products and Australian agricultural products, including sugar and horticulture, provided proof of the Agreement's benefits.
- The Joint Committee noted that officials in both countries are working closely together to support the full and effective implementation of the KAFTA. The KAFTA-related Mutual Recognition Agreement between Engineers Australia and the Korean Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning was signed on 23 April 2015. Both countries had constructive discussions at the first meeting of the KAFTA Committee on Outward Processing Zones (OPZ) on the Korean Peninsula held in Sydney on 2 June 2015.
- The Joint Committee agreed that the regular exchange of data on trade flows under the KAFTA would assist in understanding the benefits of the Agreement and support further targeted outreach for businesses. To this end, they tasked the Committee on Rules of Origin and Trade Facilitation with formalising data exchange arrangements.
- The Joint Committee discussed the future application of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) Rules to arbitrations initiated pursuant to Section B of Chapter 11 (Investments) of the KAFTA. Both sides agreed for officials to start consultations on the issue, as provided in side letters to KAFTA.
- The Joint Committee noted Australia's interest in the draft amendments to the ROK's Foreign Legal Consultants Act, which are intended to implement the ROK's Phase Three legal services liberalisation obligations under various FTAs, including the KAFTA. The Australian Government and the Law Council of Australia have made submissions to public consultations undertaken by the ROK Ministry of Justice. In this context, the Committee reaffirmed the ROK and Australia's ongoing commitment to seek to reduce or eliminate the barriers to trade and investment between them, as set out in the preamble of KAFTA.
- The Joint Committee acknowledged Korea's strong interests in designating the Gaesong Industrial Complex (GIC) as an outward processing zone of the KAFTA and tasked the Committee on OPZs on the Korean Peninsula to consider identification of the GIC as an area that may be designated as an OPZ at its second meeting, as provided by the Agreement.
- In view of the smooth implementation of the KAFTA to date, the Joint Committee also agreed to take a pragmatic approach to managing the committees and working groups established under the Agreement. Both sides expressed a commitment to transparency on the implementation of KAFTA and agreed to continue to consult with businesses in advance of the KAFTA committee meetings. They agreed that outcomes and progress should be communicated promptly and publicly. Specifically, the Joint Committee instructed the Committee on Trade in Goods, the Committee on Rules of Origin and Trade Facilitation, the Committee on OPZs on the Korean Peninsula, the Committee on Financial Services, the Working Group on Professional Services, the Committee on Intellectual Property, and the Committee on Energy and Mineral Resources Cooperation to meet no later than the first half of 2016 and report on their activities, including work plans, at the next meeting of the Joint Committee.
- The Co-Chairs discussed recent trade policy developments and welcomed the close cooperation between both countries in relevant international forums, including the WTO. They underscored the benefits of continuing to work together to conclude negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement. The Co-Chairs welcomed the recent conclusion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement negotiations and shared the view that Korea's entry into the TPP would contribute significantly to the value of TPP and increase its benefits for other parties. They noted that the prior consultations held between the two countries so far have been very constructive and highlighted the value of renewing these consultations to facilitate Korea's entry into the TPP.
- The next Joint Committee meeting will be held in 2016 on a date yet to be determined.
Attachment: Work Program of KAFTA Committees and Working Groups
Acknowledging that Article 21.4.1 provides that the committees and working groups listed in paragraph 1 and 3 of Annex 21-A, which are the Committee on Trade in Goods, the Committee on Outward Processing Zones on the Korean Peninsula, the Committee on Rules of Origin and Trade Facilitation, the Committee on Financial Services, the Committee on Telecommunications, the Committee on Intellectual Property, the committee on Agricultural Cooperation, the Committee on Energy and Mineral Resources Cooperation, and the Working Group on Professional Services, are established under the auspices of the Joint Committee, the Parties to the Korea-Australia FTA (KAFTA) agree to the Work Programme of the KAFTA Committees and Working Groups as follows.
- The following committees and working groups are to convene no later than
the first half of next year, 2016.
- The Committee on Outward Processing Zones on the Korean Peninsula
- The Committee on Trade in Goods
- The Committee on Rules of Origin and Trade Facilitation
- The Committee on Intellectual Property
- The Working Group on Professional Services
- The Committee on Financial Services
- Committee on Energy and Mineral Resources Cooperation
- Officials of the Parties will closely cooperate to resolve any matters that arise under the KAFTA by using the contact information that has already been exchanged between the Parties, and other committees and working groups will meet on request of a Party, if required.