FTAs not all good for manufacturers

More needs to be done to ensure that manufacturers don’t miss out on the benefits of Free Trade Agreements (FTAs), according to the peak industry group.

The Australian Industry Group (Ai Group) released its submission to the Inquiry by the Federal Parliament's Joint Select Committee on Trade and Investment Growth into the Business Experience in Utilising Australia's Free Trade Agreements today.

According to Ai Group Chief Executive, Innes Willox “FTA gains should be enjoyed by Australian importers, exporters and investors across the board, there are many examples of FTAs not delivering a competitive advantage to manufacturers.”

"The submission identifies that the most common reasons for not engaging with FTAs include low levels of understanding of how FTAs work; difficulty in accessing information; non-tariff barriers having a greater impact on manufactured exports, and FTA's not meeting exporters' needs,” Willox added.

As such, Ai Group’s submission includes recommendations for ways to ensure Australian businesses get the most out of FTAs. These include:

DFAT's (Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade) new FTA outreach service should include staff with Customs expertise to assist companies with classification and rules of origin.

The proposed FTA portal needs to provide information arranged by market rather than FTA.

Outreach activities should be delivered in a variety of modes and with enough detail to assist SMES in making informed decisions.

DFAT should continue to pursue modern self-declaration regimes under all FTAs.

DFAT's new FTA outreach service needs to collect information on non-tariff measures that can be addressed under the arrangements of the respective FTAs.

DFAT resources should be dedicated to educating Austrade and State Government front line trade facilitation staff in the provisions of the ChAFTA NTM (China Australia Free Trade Agreement Non-Tariff Measures) review body and they should actively seek input for issues to address.