The ASEAN-Australia dialogue relationship has evolved and matured considerably since Australia became ASEAN's very first Dialogue Partner more than three decades ago in 1974.
Over the years, ASEAN-Australia partnership has been constantly strengthened and enhanced. The Leaders of ASEAN and Australia, together with New Zealand, met in 2004 to commemorate the 30th anniversary of their dialogue relations. At the ASEAN Summit in 2004, the Leaders adopted the Joint Declaration of the Leaders at the ASEAN-Australia and New Zealand Commemorative Summit to further broaden and deepen their dialogue relations in all fields including political, economic and socio-cultural cooperation.
With the substantive relationship with ASEAN built over 35 years, ASEAN and Australia are gearing up for the 1st ever ASEAN-Australia Summit that would be convened in October 2010.
ASEAN – Australia New Zealand Free Trade Area:
The ASEAN-Australia and New Zealand Commemorative Summit in 2004 launched negotiations on a Free Trade Agreement (FTA). Consequently, the Agreement Establishing the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Area (AANZFTA) was signed by the Economic Ministers of ASEAN, Australia and New Zealand at the sidelines of the 14th ASEAN Summit on 27 February 2009 in Cha-am Hua Hin, Thailand. The Agreement is the single most comprehensive economic agreement entered into by ASEAN to date. It covers trade in goods and services (including financial services and telecommunications), investment, electronic commerce, movement of natural persons, intellectual property, competition policy and economic cooperation. It was the first region-to-region arrangement for ASEAN and the first FTA that Australia and New Zealand have jointly negotiated. The AANZFTA Agreement entered into force on 1 January 2010 and is now being implemented by all Parties, except Cambodia, Indonesia and Lao PDR. The AANZFTA Agreement hopes to create a trans-Pacific free trade zone comprising a market of around 600 million people with a combined GDP of US$ 2.7 trillion. It is expected to substantially reduce barriers to trade in goods and services, thereby opening up a wide range of opportunities for trade and investment in the region, not only for the Parties but non-Parties as well. Under the AANZFTA, tariff reductions started gradually on 1 January 2010 with free trade to be fully realised by 2015. The newer ASEAN Member States – Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Viet Nam – have longer time frames.
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