Australia, New Zealand free trade agreement with Asean starts

Bloomberg | 4 Jan 2010

Australia, New Zealand Free Trade Agreement With Asean Starts

By Robert Fenner

Jan. 4 (Bloomberg) — Australia’s free trade agreement with New Zealand and members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations came into effect, removing tariffs on grape exports to Malaysia and wheat sales to the Philippines.

The agreement, Australia’s largest, covers 12 economies and 600 million people with a combined gross domestic product of A$3.1 trillion ($2.8 trillion), Trade Minister Simon Crean said in an e-mailed statement.

Australia and New Zealand, which have had their own trade agreement since 1983, are seeking to tap Asian growth through the accord with Brunei, Myanmar, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam and the Philippines. The remaining Asean members, Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand, are expected to ratify the agreement this year, Crean said.

“By 2020, the deal will eliminate tariffs on 96 percent of our current exports to Asean nations,” Crean said. “This agreement is also an important building block toward deepening Australia’s economic integration with the dynamic Asian region.”

source: Bloomberg