The Thailand-Australia Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA) is one of three FTAs that Australian businesses can use to trade with Thailand. As a member of ASEAN, Thailand is also part of the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (AANZFTA) and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP).
TAFTA has eliminated the majority of Thai tariffs on goods imported from Australia. The reduction of Thailand's previously high tariff barriers (for some goods, up to 200 per cent) is a significant win for Australian businesses, opening up a range of export opportunities in Southeast Asia's second-largest economy. TAFTA also improves the environment for bilateral services trade and investment.
The agreement entered into force on 1 January 2005 and was Australia's third free trade agreement. It was Thailand's first comprehensive free trade agreement and its first with a developed country. Total two-way trade between Australia and Thailand has more than doubled since TAFTA entered into force.
Key interests and benefits
- The elimination of 94 per cent of Thailand's tariff and quota barriers on imports from Australia as of 2010, with the remaining tariffs phasing to zero in 2015 or 2020 (with the exception of skim milk powder and liquid milk and cream, for which the tariff rate quotas will be eliminated in 2025).
- More open access for Australian companies to Thailand's services market and a commitment to liberalise two-way services trade in future.
- Increased access for Australian investors in Thailand, permitting majority Australian ownership for businesses in certain sectors including mining operations, construction services, restaurants and hotels, tertiary education institutions, maritime cargo services and more.
- Provisions on investment protection that guarantee a range of rights to Australian direct investors in Thailand, including the right to transfer their funds out of Thailand at any time, and the right to seek impartial resolution of any disputes with the Thai government over their investments.
- Facilitates business by easing visa and other requirements for the temporary entry of Australian business people to Thailand, including through reduced paperwork, access to a one-stop visa and work permit service, and extension of the maximum length of stay under business visa arrangements.