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Taking Advantage of Thailand-Australia Free Trade

Australian Exporters Taking Advantage of Thailand-Australia Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA)

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade, Mark Vaile, said figures released today show that Australian exporters are taking advantage of expanded market opportunities created under the Thailand-Australia Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA).

"Two-way trade between Australia and Thailand grew by over 30 per cent last year, while Australian exports are up by 34.7 per cent from $3.1 billion to $4.1 billion.

"Thailand is now Australia's tenth largest trading partner with strong export growth across the board. Commodities to benefit from the tariff reductions under TAFTA include milk and cream (up 62 per cent), copper (60 per cent), aluminium (47 per cent) and pharmaceutical products (24 per cent).

"TAFTA is creating important new opportunities for Australian businesses and is giving them a real edge over their competitors in one of the fastest-growing economies in South-East Asia .

"Victorian manufacturer Think Appliances, for example, has seen tariffs on its ovens, cook tops, and large cooking appliances fall to between 15 and zero per cent. They now enjoy a clear tariff advantage over their European competitors.

"The tariff on Australian wine was reduced from 60 to 40 per cent and will be phased to zero by 2015. Australian exports of wine for the first ten months of the agreement's operation were up 8 per cent to $6.5 million.

"Now in operation for one year, TAFTA has seen the elimination of more than half of Thailand's 5,000 tariffs - accounting for nearly 80 per cent of Australian exports. Many Australian companies formerly locked out of the Thai market have enjoyed new opportunities."

Over 450 Australian companies have registered to take advantage of these opportunities and some 5,300 certificates of origin have been issued to these companies.

As well as tariff cuts Australian businesses are benefiting from a range of other gains. Services exporters and investors are benefiting from Thailand's relaxation of foreign equity restrictions in sectors such as mining, construction and distribution services, management consultancy, maritime cargo, and restaurant and hotel services. Thailand has also agreed to relax conditions for visas and work permits resulting in significant improvements in business mobility.

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