Australia and South Korea have agreed on a free trade deal in an attempt to boost trade between the two countries.
As part of the deal, tariffs on key Australian exports to South Korea such as agricultural products, energy and resources will be eliminated. It is also likely to help South Korean firms in sectors such as steel, textile and car manufacturing to boost their presence in Australia.
Trade between the two nations was worth A$32bn ($29bn; £18bn) in 2012. Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the benefits of the free trade agreement would “start flowing immediately and will be long-lasting”.
“Independent modelling shows the agreement would be worth A$5bn between 2015 and 2030 and boost the economy by around A$650m annually after 15 years,” Mr Abbott was quoted as saying by the Australian Broadcast Corporation. The deal still needs cabinet approval in Australia and South Korea.
South Korea is Australia’s third-largest export market and its fourth-biggest trading partner. One of the sectors that is likely to benefit the most by the agreement is Australia’s beef exports. South Korea is one of the biggest buyers of Australian beef, but there had been concerns that Australian firms may lose out to US competitors.
The worries were prompted after South Korea agreed a free trade deal with US, resulting in tariffs on US beef exports to the country being reduced, making Australian beef relatively more expensive. The pact with Australia, will see Seoul reduce tariffs on Australian beef to zero over 15 years, which analysts say will help Australian firms remain competitive. News Source: BBC
“The deal is significant for beef,” said Matt Linnegar, chief executive officer of the Australian National Farmers Federation.
“The differential between Australia and the US stands at about 5%… but it would have been 8% next year without the deal, so we would have been at an increasing disadvantage.”