Thursday, December 5, 2013
CANBERRA, Dec. 5 -- Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott confirmed in a statement on Thursday that Australia has concluded negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with South Korea.
According to the statement,Australian Trade Minister Robb and his South Korean counterpart, Trade Minister Yoon, concluded negotiations earlier this week. The agreement will be signed and come into operation following domestic approval processes in Australia and South Korea.
South Korea is Australia's third-largest goods export market and fourth-largest trading partner. Bilateral trade reached 32 billion AU dollars (almost 28.96 billion U.S. dollars) and the Australian government said this agreement will help take that to a new level.
"Australia and (South) Korea are natural partners and this FTA will bring our economies and societies even closer and underpin a strong relationship for years to come," Abbott said.
According to Abbott, building stronger trading relationships in Asia was a key election commitment and part of the coalition government's plan to build a strong, prosperous economy of Australia.
As a result of the agreement, tariffs will be eliminated on Australia's major exports to South Korea and there will be significant new market openings in services and investment. "The FTA translates to higher economic growth and more jobs for Australians," Abbott said.
He also confirmed that the FTA will also provide new market opportunities in South Korea for Australian services in education, telecommunications and a range of professional services including financial, accounting and legal services.
According to the figures in the statement, independent modeling shows the agreement would be worth 5 billion AU dollars (almost 4. 52 billion U.S. dollars) between 2015 and 2030 and boost the economy by around 650 million AU dollars (almost 588.22 million U. S. dollars) annually after 15 years. Australia's agricultural exports to South Korea will be 73 percent higher after 15 years as a result of the FTA and overall exports to South Korea will be 25 percent higher, resulting in the creation of more than 1,700 jobs.
In addition, Australian automotive suppliers would benefit from the immediate removal of tariffs as high as 8 percent; the wine industry from tariffs of 15 percent and Australian wheat growers, potato farmers and cherry, grape and mango producers would all stand to benefit.
The statement also said that the agreement opens up opportunities for creative collaboration between Australia and South Korea with producers able to develop screen content for the international marketplace.
"The FTA secures Australia's position in a major market where competitors like the United States, European Union and ASEAN ( Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries are already benefiting from preferential access," the statement said.
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