THE recent announcement that negotiations would commence for a free trade agreement between Australia and the Pacific Alliance was welcomed by the Export Council of Australia (ECA).
ECA chief executive Lisa McAuley said the Council was pleased the government was seeking new opportunities for Australian companies by enhancing and reinforcing Australia’s market access in the Alliance’s member countries: Mexico, Peru, Colombia and Chile.
“The ECA is particularly interested in the opportunities for Australian companies in Mexico,” Ms McAuley said.
“As the fourteenth largest economy in the world and home to 120 million people, Mexico is a significant market in its own right, as well as potential gateway to opportunity across the Americas for Australian companies.”
New Zealand also announced it was pursuing FTA negotiations with the Pacific Alliance.
Speaking from the Pacific Alliance Summit in Colombia, New Zealand trade minister Todd McClay said the proposed FTA would open the door for New Zealand companies to increase the NZ$1.1bn in two-way trade between Alliance countries and New Zealand.
“This is a big win in the fight for better access for New Zealanders to important overseas markets,” he said.
“We’ve worked hard for trade talks with the Pacific Alliance over the last two years and today’s announcement will be welcome news for our exporters.”
NZ Federated Farmers vice-president Andrew Hoggard noted the potential for dairy trade with Mexico was particularly significant, with Kiwi curtailed when the US settled a deal with the country under NAFTA in the 1990s.
“If we could get back to an even playing field on trade with Mexico if could be very signification for New Zealand dairy – and sheep and beef as well,” Mr Hoggard said.
The ECA’s Ms McAuley said New Zealand’s initiation of FTA negotiations with the Latin American bloc makes it even more imperative that Australia also come to a trade agreement.
“As New Zealand has announced their negotiations with the Pacific Alliance, and given the opportunities for Australian companies in sectors like agriculture, we cannot afford to be behind the ball in securing our own market access,” she said.