There has been a significant proliferation of bilateral free trade agreements. This background note examines the impact of the agreements thus far concluded and their trade impact on Australia.There has been a significant proliferation of bilateral free trade agreements (FTAs) in recent history, particularly FTAs struck between governments in the same region, notably in the Asia-Pacific region. At the time of the Asian financial crisis in 1997/98 there were only six FTAs in the Asia-Pacific region. At the end of 2006, there were more than 60 FTA projects in various stages of development or negotiation. Some governments, including Australia, believe that FTAs are a significant first step towards regional-level and multilateral agreements, and other forms of regional cooperation.
Since 2003, Australia has concluded FTAs with Thailand, Singapore, the US and Chile. Australia is also negotiating FTAs with ASEAN (jointly with New Zealand), the Gulf Cooperation Council, China, Japan and Malaysia, and has begun feasibility studies on possible FTAs with Indonesia, India and Korea.
This background note examines the impact of the FTAs thus far concluded and their trade impact on Australia.