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ASEAN free trade agreement set for 2010

ASEAN free trade agreement set for 2010 article image
Leaders from the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) have agreed to bring the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement into force on January 1, 2010 at their regional meeting yesterday. The FTA is Australia's largest, and will account for one-fifth of Australia's two-way trade, or more than $110 billion. The agreement spans the 10 nations of ASEAN, Australia and New Zealand, a growing economic area of about 600 million people with a combined gross domestic product of $3.1 trillion. A statement jointly released by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Minister for Trade Simon Crean declared the elimination of tariffs on 96 percent of our exports, up from the 67 percent currently eligible: "This will support Australian industry by promoting exports, and will play an important role in supporting Australian jobs." The FTA, signed in February, comes at an opportune time as leaders feared some countries would resort to protectionist measures to protect their local markets. "The initial signing of the AANZFTA in February was an important sign of the determination of nations to work together to build economic recovery, and today's announcement cements that cooperation," read Rudd and Crean's statement. "The entry into force of AANZFTA is also another important step towards greater cooperation and economic integration in the region." The ASEAN nations are: Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Burma, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

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