Australian businesses are embracing the free national seminars explaining the benefits and opportunities that have been created for Australian businesses as a result of the North Asia free trade agreements (FTAs) with South Korea, Japan and China.
Organised by Austrade – in conjunction with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), AusIndustry and Efic – the FTA seminar series was launched in March 2015 with the objective of providing clear and practical information on how Australian business can benefit from the FTAs.
The North Asia FTAs – Korea-Australia Free Trade Agreement (KAFTA), Japan-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement (JAEPA) and China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA) – are significant given the three countries represent Australia’s largest export markets and account for more than 61 per cent of goods exports.
Held across Australia, the three-hour seminars focus on specific regions and industry sectors. The aim is to provide small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) with advice on how to access and harness the competitive advantages of the FTAs to start exporting or enter a new export market.
Participants obtain detailed information about the benefits of the FTAs and practical information on how to use them. They participate in an interactive Q&A panel discussion with guests including a local small business representative using the FTAs who shares their experience. An export trade toolkit containing relevant information is also provided to participants.
Nick Nichles, Austrade’s General Manager of Marketing, Communications and the Free Trade Agreements Program, said 77 seminars have been held across numerous Australian cities and regional centres to date, attracting more than 3,200 participants.
“These agreements are opening the door to more than a billion potential new customers and our seminars are aimed at helping Australian businesses maximise the opportunities that now exist.”“Feedback from attendees has been overwhelmingly positive.
Participants say the seminars give them a good general understanding of a complex subject, providing valuable information and benefiting non-exporters, beginners and established exporters alike,” Mr Nichles said.
The FTAs are also enhancing Australia’s competitive position in key sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing, resources and energy. They have also provided unprecedented access for Australia’s world class services in industries including finance, health, aged care, architecture, construction and education.
“Another significant advantage is the vast majority of Australian goods will enter these Asian markets duty-free. Similarly, imports into Australia will also be cheaper which means more affordable items for consumers, and cheaper inputs for Australian high-end manufacturers,” Mr Nichles added.
The seminar series is complemented by the FTA Training Provider (FTA-TP) Grant, administered by Austrade.
The FTA-TP Grant assists Australian member-based business organisations and education institutions to deliver targeted training to help SMEs and stakeholders understand how to use and access Australia’s North Asia FTAs.
Successful grant recipients are covering a broad range of sectors as part of their FTA training proposals including: food and fibre wine, dairy, agriculture/agribusiness, infrastructure, finance, health, pharmaceuticals, education, tourism, hospitality, advanced manufacturing and manufactured goods, marine and mining.
There are currently 26 grants awarded to national, state and regional bodies committed to providing FTA training to SMEs nationwide.
Export Value Chain program
To further support the number of businesses accessing these FTA benefits, Austrade, in partnership with DFAT, has developed an Export Value Chain program.
The program is aimed at businesses that assist exporters, such as custom brokers, logistics companies and freight forwarders. It provides information about the value their clients could be getting from the North Asia FTAs and the importance of using a Certificate of Origin. This ensures they can help their clients maximise the benefits of the FTAs.
Since April 2017, more than 950 members of the Customs Brokers and Forwarding Council of Australia and the Freight Trade Alliance (Australia’s peak shippers association) have participated in the program. These brokers and freight forwarders are in a unique position in the exporting value chain as they are the last point of contact with Australian businesses before their products are exported.
Marie Piccone, Manbulloo Mangoes Managing Director, who attended a seminar held in Brisbane credited the FTAs as a key factor in her business’ growth, as China and Korea are its largest markets.
“We've unleashed the dragon! It's been eight years of hard work getting brand recognition and building relationships with the right partners but now we're planting an additional 20,000 trees in the Northern Territory to meet supply. We have also bought another farm in North Queensland and we are hoping to plant additional plantations on the tableland,” said Mr Piccone.Piconne said the introduction of KAFTA in December 2014 and ChAFTA in December 2015 was extremely welcome, because the two FTAs ensure the tariffs on fresh and dried mangoes will be steadily reduced annually until they are eliminated.
North Asia FTAs at a glance
KOREA-AUSTRALIA FREE TRADE AGREEMENT (KAFTA)
- KAFTA entered into force on December 12, 2014 and tariffs have now been cut four times.
- Korea is Australia’s third largest export market, with exports valued at $17.8 billion in 2015-16. It is also our fourth latest trading partner, with total two-way trade of $34 billion in 2015-16.
- Top five exports to Korea: iron ores & concentrates; coal; beef; education-related travel services and aluminum.
- 99.8 per cent of Australia’s goods exports (by value) to Korea will enter duty-free on full implementation of the agreement.
JAPAN-AUSTRALIA ECONOMIC PARTNERSHIP AGREEMENT (JAEPA)
- JAEPA entered into force on January 15, 2015.
- More than 97 per cent of Australia's exports to Japan will receive preferential access or enter duty-free when JAEPA is fully implemented.
- On entry into force, Japan eliminated tariffs for bulk wine, high polarity (international standard) raw sugar, milk protein concentrates, lactose and casein, wheat and barley for animal feed, some horticulture (including asparagus, macadamia nuts, almonds and mangoes), and some seafood (lobsters, prawns, oysters, crabs and abalone).
- Japan is Australia’s second largest export market, with two-way trade valued at $59.9 billion in 2015-16. Total exports to Japan were $40.1 billion in 2015-16.
CHINA-AUSTRALIA FREE TRADE AGREEMENT (ChAFTA)
- ChAFTA entered into force on December 20, 2015 and removes tariffs on many of Australia's key agricultural exports such as meat, dairy, and horticulture, better positioning exporters to meet China's demand for high-quality food.
- China is Australia’s largest trading partner with two-way trade valued at $150 billion in 2015-16.
- Total exports to China, our largest export market, was $85.9 billion in 2015-16.