Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement

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The Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement (FTA) is a preferential trade agreement between Australia and the USA. It came into force on January 1, 2005.

History of the FTA

The US first proposed a free trade agreement with Australia as far back as 1946. In more recent times, the prospect of a US-Australia FTA was raised in the 1980s by the Bob Hawke Government, and in 1992 US president George H. W. Bush offered to begin FTA negotiations with Australia, but was turned down by ALP Prime Minister Paul Keating [1].

It wasn’t until early 2001, after the election of George W. Bush in the USA and with John Howard in power in Australia, that a US-Australia FTA finally began to take shape. In April 2001, President Bush signalled his interest in pursuing an FTA with Australia provided “everything is on the table”. Following this, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade commissioned a private consultancy – the Centre for International Economics (CIE) – to model the economic impacts of such an agreement. A further study was commissioned from the Australian APEC Study Centre, written jointly by Alan Oxley (director of AUSTA, the Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement Business Group) and by Alan Moran of the Institute of Public Affairs. Not surprisingly, both of these studies strongly advocated proceding with the FTA.

Negotiations for the FTA began in April 2003 and after five rounds of negotiations held in Canberra, Hawaii and Washington, the text was finally agreed in February 2004, and signed off on by Australian Trade Minister Mark Vaile and US Trade Representative Robert Zoellick in Washington in May 2004.

The FTA was ratified by the US Congress on August 3, 2004. In Australia, the agreement's implementing legislation was reluctantly passed, with amendments, by the Australian Senate on August 13, 2004. After some delay, the US Administration accepted the amended Australian legislation as being consistent with implementation of the agreement.

Impacts of the FTA on Australia

Impact on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS)

Impact on Australian Media

Impact on Australian Quarantine

Impact on Intellectual Property

Other SourceWatch resources

External links

Government Links

Non-Government Links