The Hon. Mark Vaile, MP
The Hon. Mark Vaile, MP
FORMER MINISTER FOR TRADE

Media Release

Monday, 20 October 2003 - MVT83/2003

Australia-Thailand FTA Raises Benchmark in Regional Free Trade Negotiations

Following intense negotiations over the last week with his Thai counterpart Adisai Bodharamik, Trade Minister Mark Vaile today welcomed the announcement by Prime Ministers John Howard and Thaksin Shinawatra of the conclusion of negotiations on an Australia-Thailand free trade agreement.

"This agreement is an outstanding result for Australia. It will lead to substantial improvements in access to the Thai market for Australian exporters across the board."

Mr Vaile said one of the key features of the Agreement was its comprehensive coverage -the Agreement includes commitments on trade in goods and services, as well as investment.

Thailand will immediately eliminate 52.6 per cent of its tariffs, which account for 78.9 percent of all current imports from Australia. Of the remaining tariffs, 40.8 per cent will be phased down to zero by 2010 and 6.5 per cent will reduce to zero in the period between 2015 and 2020.

Specific sectors to benefit from the agreement will include:

"This is the first comprehensive free trade agreement Thailand has concluded, and it raises the benchmark for trade liberalising agreements by one of the largest ASEAN economies,"Mr Vaile said. "This FTA will make a genuine contribution to future trade liberalisation in the region."

Mr Vaile noted the Agreement should cover all products, including agricultural goods, which Thailand had carved out of its previous free trade agreements. "The conclusion of the Agreement demonstrates Thailand's commitment to genuine trade liberalisation and sets a strong example for the region."

The agreement also makes Australia the only country to have concluded two free trade agreements with ASEAN economies, following the conclusion of the Singapore-Australia Free Trade Agreement earlier this year.

Mr Vaile recognised the hard work of the negotiating teams of both Australia and Thailand in concluding the agreement within 17 months of commencing discussions in May last year.

Contact: Matthew Doman 02 6277 7420

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