The Minister for Trade and Investment, Andrew Robb, joined Ministers from ASEAN Member States and New Zealand in signing the First Protocol to Amend the Agreement Establishing the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Area (AANZFTA).

The Protocol will provide for improved administrative efficiency by Customs authorities and encourage enhanced business utilisation of the AANZFTA.

Mr Robb said the protocol brings AANZFTA into alignment with Australia’s other FTAs and reduces red tape for business, a priority for the government.

“Australian industry came to the Government with concerns that a number of administrative requirements in AANZFTA discouraged use because they required some businesses to provide commercially sensitive information,” Mr Robb said.

“The Protocol addresses these concerns and modernises the presentation of the Agreement’s Rules of Origin. This should reduce costs and make doing business under AANZFTA easier.”

AANZFTA is Australia’s largest free trade agreement (FTA) and provides for extensive reduction and elimination of tariffs for goods exported by the parties that meet the Agreement’s rules of origin (ROO). The parties to AANZFTA accounted for 17.6 per cent of Australian two-way goods and services trade in 2013.

“The Government will be seeking to work closely with industry to ensure that the Protocol is implemented in a manner that maximises its benefits,” Mr Robb said.

Further information about the Protocol and implementation issues on which industry input is invited, is available on the website of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

The Proposed Agreement will enter into force 30 days after Australia, New Zealand and at least four ASEAN Member Countries have notified completion of their respective domestic procedures.

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