While Australia has made significant strides in free trade agreements (FTAs) in Asia in recent years, there have been very few breakthroughs in the Americas and you have to go back a fair way in history to find them – a U.S. deal in 2005 and then Chile in 2009.
A few partners from the region are involved with the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), but with that deal still up in the air despite pledges for its resurrection, Australia and Peru look set to hedge their bets by launching bilateral FTA negotiations.
Australian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, said industries expected to benefit included the kangaroo meat industry along with beef, horticulture and wine.
He described the talks as a positive development for Australian agricultural exporters, saying they represented a new step forward for into Latin America.
“Economic partnerships are the bedrock of success for modern trading nations,” Joyce said in a release.
“A Free Trade Agree (FTA) with Peru will ensure that Australian farmers have the opportunity to share in Latin America’s economic growth and be on an even footing with our competitors.
“Australia’s agricultural exports to Peru, such as beef, horticulture and wine, face high tariffs that many of our competitors do not—the US, the EU, and Canada, all have FTAs with Peru, which give them preferential access.”
Joyce pointed out how Peru’s booming gastronomy industry offered niche opportunities for many other high-value Australian agricultural and food exports.
He also said the Australia-Peru FTA not only offered immediate economic benefits to both nations, but also represented a critical gateway into Latin America.
“An FTA with Peru will strengthen our economic relationship with the region, facilitate essential value chains between the Americas and Asia and prove Australia’s credentials as a reliable and responsible supplier of high-quality agricultural produce,” he said.
“Peru is a member of the Pacific Alliance trading bloc and a FTA could be used as a stepping stone to an Australian-Pacific Alliance FTA, including Mexico, Chile and Colombia.
“The Coalition Government is in discussions with 10 countries, including Peru, involved in the Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations to assess options for bringing the TPP into force as soon as possible.”
The Australian Government is also working on negotiations to deliver various other FTAs, which include the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), and bilateral deals with Indonesia, the European Union (EU), India, the Gulf Cooperation Council and Hong Kong.
The release added negotiations for a “high-value” Free Trade Agreement with Peru could be completed quickly, building on the work already undertaken between both nations as part of Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations.