ByJohn S. McClenahen Australia last week promised to make legislative and regulatory changes to remove U.S. concerns about intellectual property protection and, as a result, the pending free-trade agreement (FTA) between the two countries will take effect Jan. 1, 2005. Had the U.S. concerns been left unresolved, the effective date would likely have been delayed. Under the FTA, 99% of Australia's tariffs on U.S. industrial goods will be eliminated on Jan. 1 of next year. "We expect the agreement to lead to nearly $2 billion in additional export sales for U.S. manufacturers," says John Engler, president of the National Association of Manufacturers, Washington, D.C. Total trade in goods and services between the U.S. and Australia is nearly $29 billion annually, with the U.S. running a $9 billion surplus. Negotiations on the Australia-U.S. free-trade pact began in March 2003 and were completed in February 2004. The U.S. Congress approved the agreement in July 2004. It's the first free-trade agreement between the U.S. and another economically developed country since the 1988 U.S.-Canada Free Trade Agreement.