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China-Australia FTA Moves toward Ratification

Chinese-Meat-imports

The China-Australia Free Trade Agreement received approval last week in Australia’s House of Representatives and now moves to the Senate for a ratification vote. The ratification effort gained momentum earlier this month when opponents in the House agreed to address concerns over migrant labor regulations in separate legislation, rather than attempt to amend the text of the agreement. The Australian Senate is out of session until Nov. 9, but will likely take up the issue in mid-to-late November.

Under the FTA, China’s tariffs on Australian beef products, which currently range from 12 to 25 percent, will be eliminated over nine years. These terms are similar to the New Zealand-China FTA in which duties on chilled and frozen beef muscle cuts have been reduced to 2.7 percent, and will be eliminated next year. China’s tariffs on Australian livestock, currently at 10 percent, are eliminated over four years.

Tariffs on Australian lamb and sheep meat products, which are currently 12 to 23 percent, will be eliminated over eight years. Australian dairy products have been heralded as the biggest winner in the FTA, with tariffs as high as 20 percent being eliminated over a period ranging from four to 11 years.