BCA Welcomes Details of US Trade Agreement

Details of the free trade agreement with the United States released today underlined the potential for the agreement to provide long-term growth opportunities for Australia’s export economy.

BCA President, Mr Hugh Morgan said the full text of the agreement detailed the extent to which Australian companies, large and small, would benefit through increased trade, investment and closer links with the world’s richest economy, producing a third of the world's GDP.

Mr Morgan said the agreement in itself was not a guarantee of economic growth being handed to us on a platter.

“It requires individuals and companies to actively seek out the enormous opportunities available from being able to compete on a level playing field in United States markets, particularly in respect to the US Government’s annual purchasing program of some $200 billion each year,” he said.

“At the same time, the benefits cannot simply be reduced to numbers. The real reward is participating as an equal partner in the most technologically advanced economy in the world.”

As the detail of the agreement released today outlined, it will mean:

  • Most non-agricultural exports to the United States will be duty free from day one.
  • Australian services exports to the United States will have enhanced legal protections that guarantee market access – a significant increase on the commitments Australian had gained from the United States as part of the World Trade Organisation trade talks.
  • All metals and minerals will be immediately duty free.

“This agreement is one of the most far reaching undertaken by the United States, and provide opportunities that could not have been achieved through multilateral trade talks,” Mr Morgan said.

“Should the agreement be rejected, it could be decades before Australia has this opportunity again,” he said.

Mr Morgan said the release of the negotiating text highlighted not only the immediate opportunities for businesses but also frameworks that would promote even greater access to US markets in the future.

They include:

  • Promoting the mutual recognition of qualifications in professional services. This is a crucial future gain for the export of professional services and is not an area which has been previously provided by the US under any agreement.
  • Joint consideration of a number of issues regarding the closer integration of our two financial sectors and report within two years of the agreement entering into force.
  • Tackling barriers created through technical regulations and standards. This will particularly assist those that deal with areas where technical regulations and standards such as labeling, packaging, testing and certification are prevalent.

“The FTA provides an important platform for Australia in terms of future export growth, as well as ensuring our economy remains closely connected with the world’s largest economy.”