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Free Trade Agreement with the United States

Media release
8 February 2004 - MVT08/2004

Free Trade Agreement with the United States

Trade Minister Mark Vaile today concluded an agreed text for the Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement with his US counterpart, Trade Representative Bob Zoellick.

"This historic deal offers enormous opportunities to all Australian companies interested in profiting in the world's largest and most dynamic economy," Mr Vaile said after a final negotiating session in Washington DC lasting more than two weeks.

"The agreement represents the culmination of months of effort, and is a great example of government working with industry to deliver real results for Australians."

The Agreement includes:

- Immediate, free and open access to the US market for Australian exporters of almost all manufactured goods and services;
- Duty-free access from day one for over 97 per cent of Australia's manufacturing exports to the US, worth $5.84 billion last year;
- Substantially-improved access for Australia's agricultural sector, including for our beef and dairy producers, with more than 66 per cent of agricultural tariffs going to zero from day one of the Agreement;
- Full access for Australian goods and services to the $270 billion market for federal government procurement in the United States; and,
- Enhanced legal protections that guarantee market access and non-discriminatory treatment for Australian service providers in the US market
Importantly, critical elements of Australian public policy have not been compromised.

The systems we have in place to ensure that our health and our environment are protected, such as our quarantine regime, are not affected.

The Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), in particular the price and listing arrangements that ensure Australians access to quality, affordable medicines, remains intact.

The right to examine significant foreign investment proposals in all sectors, to ensure they do not raise issues contrary to the national interest, is retained.

Our right to ensure local content in Australian broadcasting and audiovisual services, including in new media formats, is retained.

Australia's single-desk arrangements for marketing Australian commodities to the world, such as for sugar, rice, wheat and barley, are not affected.

"The FTA between Australia and the United States is overwhelmingly in the Australian national interest," Mr Vaile said. "This deal will further integrate the Australian economy with the largest and most dynamic economy in the world, delivering lasting benefits for generations of Australians."

Further information can be obtained by calling the AUSFTA hotline (1 300 558 413), by visiting the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website [dfat.gov.au/trade/negotiations/us.html], or by emailing the Department on us_fta@dfat.gov.au

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