Work remains on Thai FTA

WESTERN Australian farmers are reserving their judgement on the Thailand-Australian Free Trade Agreement signed at this week’s 2003 APEC Summit in Bangkok.

WA Farmers Federation spokesman Ross Hardwick said that while on the surface the Thailand-Australia FTA appeared to be positive, there was still a lot of hard work to go in establishing a presence in Thailand.

“We still don’t know the full extent of what’s been negotiated,” he said.

But the Federal Government claims benefits of the deal will include increased market access for dairy products, vegetables, beef and pork. These are in addition to up-front tariff cuts of more than 15 per cent for wine, and the elimination of high tariffs in sectors including wheat and grains.

“Australia will gain opportunities in sectors including agribusiness, processed food, steel, auto components and pharmaceuticals from the FTA with Thailand. Australian service exporters, in areas such as legal services, architecture and engineering services, will also benefit,” Austrade’s chief economist Tim Harcourt said.

“Thailand is one of the best performing economies in South-East Asia. It is second only to Indonesia in the region in terms of size, and the Thai economy bounced back well from the 1997-99 financial crisis.

“So Thailand and Australia’s trade patterns will complement each other well.”

Thailand is Australia’s 12th largest export market at around $2.48 billion a year. Key exports include wool, dairy products, wine, cotton, copper and aluminium.

Australia imports about $3.47 billion a year from Thailand, – the nation’s 13th largest source of imports –including crude petroleum, seafood, computers and trucks.

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