Free trade agreement negotiated

Australia and New Zealand have completed negotiations for a comprehensive free trade agreement with the 10 south-east Asian ASEAN countries.

Federal Trade Minister, Simon Crean, said significant benefits would flow on to the agriculture sector in both countries with improved access for agricultural products.

While he was unable to reveal much detail, Crean said the deal was the most comprehensive ever signed — “and if you took it as one country, this would be bigger than China.

“A lot of our negotiations under the previous government had put an important focus on agriculture but not enough in some other areas”.

Crean said food exporters would see significant benefits.

“This is a very good deal because we will gain considerably from the agreement. It covers 16% of trade in goods and services worth $71 billion.”

Crean said tariffs would be eliminated in all major countries in goods representing about 95% of trade.

It is expected the free trade agreement will be formally signed at an ASEAN leaders summit in Bangkok later this year.

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