U.S. Manufacturing Could Be Big Beneficiary Of Australia FTA

By John S. McClenahen Ratification of the pending U.S.-Australia Free Trade Agreement (FTA) could produce nearly $2 billion in new U.S. manufactured-goods exports, figures Jerry J. Jasinowski, president of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), Washington, D.C. The completion of negotiations for the bilateral FTA was announced Feb. 8. Before it can take effect the pact must be ratified by the U.S. Congress and the Australian Parliament. More than 99% of U.S. manufactured-goods exports to Australia would enter the South Pacific country duty free upon the agreement's implementation, estimates the U.S. Trade Representative's office (USTR). The U.S. auto, chemical and plastics, construction equipment, electrical equipment and appliance, fabricated metal products, furniture and fixtures, information technology products, medical and scientific equipment, non-electrical machinery, and paper and wood products industries would be immediate beneficiaries, says USTR. Manufactured products currently account for 93% of U.S. goods exports to Australia. Bilateral trade is about $28 billion, with the U.S. running a $9 billion surplus. The FTA would also further open the Australian market to U.S. service providers, phase out certain textile and apparel tariffs over 15 years, improve opportunities for U.S. investment in Australia, and improve protection for trademarks, copyrights and patents. The U.S.-Australia pact joins the Central American Free Trade Agreement (Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua) on the list of pending U.S. free-trade agreements. Additionally, the U.S. is in the process of negotiating FTAs with Morocco, the Southern African Customs Union (Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland), the Dominican Republic and Bahrain.

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