The Hon. Mark Vaile, MP
The Hon. Mark Vaile, MP

Media release

Wednesday, 12 May 2004 - MVT32/2004

Release of Thailand-Australia Free Trade Agreement Text

Trade Minister Mark Vaile today announced the release of the full text of the Thailand-Australia Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA).

"This agreement will transform trade and investment linkages between Australia and Thailand," Mr Vaile said.

"Businesses in both countries now have access to the full detail of the agreement and will be able to put in place arrangements to take full advantage of its benefits."

TAFTA is the second FTA between Australia and a major ASEAN economy and follows closely on the Australia-United States FTA and Singapore-Australia FTA.

"In addition to the tremendous commercial opportunities arising from the removal of tariffs and other barriers, TAFTA presents Australia with a major new stake in Asia," Mr Vaile said.

TAFTA is Thailand's first FTA with an OECD country and first comprehensive FTA, covering trade in goods and services, as well as investment.

"Through TAFTA's broad coverage - from customs procedures to transparency and standards, as well as trade liberalisation - Thailand has raised its benchmark for FTAs and this agreement will lead to genuine improvements in the environment for Australian businesses operating in Thailand," Mr Vaile said.

"The most notable feature of TAFTA is that it will lead to the elimination of Thailand's very high tariffs and tariff quotas. TAFTA is an outstanding example of the Government's success in delivering new opportunities for Australian exporters. More than $700 million of current Australian exports to Thailand will benefit from significant tariff reductions on entry into force of the agreement. Many Australian companies currently locked out of the Thai market by high tariffs and quotas will for the first time be able to export to this substantial and growing market."

The Centre for International Economics (CIE) has estimated that TAFTA will result in $US2.4 billion additional GDP to Australia over its first 20 years of operation. According to the CIE, it will increase real consumption in Australia by $US1.6 billion over the same period.

The Australian and Thai Governments have agreed on the final text of TAFTA. The text will be tabled in the Parliament today. The two sides are aiming for entry into force at the beginning of 2005.

The full text of TAFTA, including annexes, explanatory materials and the CIE study, are available on the DFAT website.

Contact: Matthew Doman (ministerial) 02 6277 7420 - Nicole Guihot (departmental) 02 6261 1555

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