Australia, Korea Finish Trade Talks

12 December 2013

Australia and Korea have finalised their negotiations for a bilateral trade pact, officials announced last Thursday, nearly five years after the talks were first launched. The deal, proponents say, could boost bilateral trade by as much as US$4.5 billion between 2015 and 2030.

"Conclusion of this agreement will be good news for our exporters, good news for our farmers, good news for jobs, good news for growth, and good news for Australia," Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said.

The deal has received a warm welcome from the Australian farming community, in light of provisions that would lower Korean import tariffs on many agricultural goods, with the main exception being rice. Canberra, meanwhile, has agreed to lift tariffs on Korean-made automobiles, a key export for the Asian economy.

Other provisions include an investor-state dispute settlement mechanism, as well as cuts in Korean tariffs on Australian energy and minerals products, a key export for the country.

Both sides will still have to go through their own domestic approval processes before the deal can take effect.

Total bilateral trade between the two sides already hit A$31.9 billion last year, or US$29.1 billion.  Korea is Australia's third largest export market, and fourth largest trading partner, according to Canberra statistics.

ICTSD reporting; "Australia, South Korea Reach Free-Trade Deal," WALL STREET JOURNAL, 5 December 2013; "Australia finalises free trade agreement with South Korea," THE GUARDIAN, 5 December 2013; "Farmers cheer Korea trade deal," THE AUSTRALIAN, 7 December 2013.

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