The full text of Australia’s free trade agreement with Korea (KAFTA), our 3rd-largest export market and 4th-largest trading partner, has on Mon 17.2.2014 been released, the Minister for Trade and Investment Andrew Robb announced. The text is on the Dept of Foreign Affairs and Trade website.

Mr Robb said KAFTA will bring immediate gains for Australian exporters. On entry-into-force, 84% (by value) of Australia’s exports to Korea will enter duty free. After full implementation, the agreement will eliminate tariffs on 99.8% of Australia’s exports to Korea. This deal helps level the playing field for Australian exporters competing with the US, EU and ASEAN, which have already signed trade deals with Korea, he said. “KAFTA opens up all sorts of doors across legal, accounting, financial, engineering, telecommunications, education, environmental as well as film and television services,” Mr Robb said.

The Minister said the Australian and Korean Governments will sign the agreement shortly. KAFTA will then enter into force when both parties complete their respective domestic legal and parliamentary processes. (Source: Minister for Trade media release, 17 February 2014.)

Labor generally supports the Agreement, but the Greens oppose it. Labor says it supports boosting trade with Korea but says the key test of the new Agreement will be its effect on Australian jobs. Labor is also concerned about the inclusion of Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions in the Agreement. The Greens have indicated they will not support any Free Trade Agreements that include ISDS provisions. Greens Senator Whish-Wilson said the Greens will not support KAFTA in its current form because of the likely increase in coal and gas exports to Korea and because of the ISDS provisions.

[LTN 31, 17/2/14]