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Australia signs free trade agreement with South Korea

Australia signs free trade agreement with South Korea article image

Australia and South Korea have formally signed off on a free trade agreement, which will open new doors for Australian exporters.  

Prime Minister Tony Abbott signed the $20 billion deal with President Park Geun-hye at a meeting in Seoul yesterday.  

The Australia Korea Free Trade Agreement (KAFTA), which was secured late last year, will see tariffs on primary products that range from about 15 per cent to more than 500 per cent removed.  

As part of the deal, tariffs of up to 300 per cent will be eliminated on Australian exports such as beef, wheat, sugar, dairy, wine, seafood, resources and manufactured goods.  

Australian automotive suppliers will benefit from the immediate removal of tariffs as high as eight per cent.  

The deal also provides new market opportunities for Australian services in education, telecommunications, as well as financial, accounting and legal services.  

Mr Abbott says independent modelling shows the free trade agreement (FTA) would be worth $5 billion between 2015 and 2030 and boost the economy by about $650 million annually after 15 years.  

The signing is the culmination of five years of negotiations with the South Korean government.  

Under the new deal, the foreign investment review threshold will also be lifted to more than $1 billion.  

Natural partners  

Mr Abbott said the trust between the two countries had paved the way for the agreement.  Australia signs free trade agreement with south korea

"Australia and South Korea are important and natural partners, he said.  

"We are democracies, we are G20 countries ... we are countries that would much rather find friends than fights," he said.  

"We are able to negotiate this agreement because Australia and South Korea trust each other."  

Mr Abbott hailed the agreement as a "historic moment".  

"Economically, there is huge untapped potential in the relationship between the two countries," he said.  

"The free trade agreement that we signed today is the first free trade agreement of your government, it is the first free trade agreement of my government and I believe it is one that we can both be very proud of.  

Boost to Australian agribusiness  

"I am confident ... that over time, Australia can help to deliver food security, resource security and energy security to the people of Korea."  

The deal with Korea follows the securing of a lucrative free trade agreement with Japan earlier this week. That agreement provides a huge boost to Australian agribusiness, with tariff reductions on beef, wine, dairy, fruit and vegetables and other agricultural products.  

Mr Abbott will now travel to China to further negotiations for a free trade agreement with the Chinese Government.  

He is optimistic of securing a free-trade agreement with China by the end of the year. 

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