Date issued: 5 December 2013

CPA Australia chief executive, Alex Malley, today welcomed the Prime Minister’s announcement of a Free Trade Agreement with one of Australia’s most important trading partners, the Republic of Korea.

Mr Malley said the in-principle agreement with our fourth largest trading partner sends a message throughout the region that Australia is indeed open for business.

“The Abbott Government is to be congratulated for securing this agreement so early in its term, after four years of negotiations.

“The fact is that two-way trade between our countries is already valued at $32 billion and by removing or reducing tariff and non-tariff barriers affecting bilateral trade in goods, Australia will realise further significant economic benefits in the future.

“News that the agreement will boost opportunities for services exports like education, telecommunications and a range of professional services including financial, accounting and legal services, will be essential to Australia's transition to a knowledge-based economy.

“Agreements like this are vital to unlocking the potential of many Australian industries and businesses and to ensuring Australia’s competitiveness in the Asian Century.

“By securing this agreement now, the Government has ensured that Australian businesses have the jump on competitors in places like Canada and New Zealand who are also understood to be in discussions with South Korea.”

Mr Malley says he hoped that this early resolution of the South Korea agreement is a sign of things to come in establishing productive and valuable FTAs with our other key trading partners in Japan and China.

“The Government has talked often of the importance of Free Trade Agreements for Australia and Minister Robb and the Cabinet have prioritised the resolution of outstanding agreements.

“South Korea is the first cab off the rank and attention must now be on Japan and most particularly China, where negotiations have dragged on for nearly a decade.

“We look forward to further good news on the free trade front in the weeks and months ahead.”