AUSTRALIA has launched negotiations for a new free-trade agreement with the Pacific Alliance – a trading bloc comprising Mexico, Chile, Peru and Colombia.
In announcing the start of negotiations, trade minister Steven Ciobo said Australia was one of the first countries to initiate trade deal talks with the bloc.
“An FTA with the Pacific Alliance will create new export opportunities for Australian farmers, miners, manufacturers, educators, service providers and investors in some of Latin America’s major economies,” Mr Ciobo said.
“Importantly, this FTA will open the door to Mexico for Australian exporters.”
The Pacific Alliance’s GDP was worth more than US$1.8 trillion in 2016, and the four countries account for 38% of Latin America’s population and 57% of its total imports.
The Alliance’s four member countries’ goods and services imports for 2016 were worth US$600bn.
Mr Ciobo said Australia’s ability to capitalise on this demand was limited by high tariffs.
“Tariffs of up to 80% are imposed on Australian beef, while dairy products attract tariffs of up to 45% and sugar attracts more than 30%,” he said.
“An FTA will bring down these barriers and ensure Australian businesses have competitive access.”