Thailand - Australia FTA

Overview
Key outcomes for agri-food and forest products
Special Agricultural Safeguards (SSG products)
Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures and Food Standards

Overview

The Thailand-Australia Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA) commenced on 1 January 2005. It covers trade in all goods, services and investment and commits to tariff elimination over agreed timeframes.

The Agreement creates new and improved opportunities for the Australian agri-food sector, including:

Thailand’s high tariff barriers were either eliminated immediately, have since been phased out, or are being phased out over an agreed timeframe (by 2015 or 2020). For agricultural products currently subject to tariff rate quotas, Thailand either eliminated the tariff and quota restrictions immediately or, for some sensitive products, expanded access for Australia over a transition period.

The Agreement contains transitional safeguard arrangements to protect industries in both countries against the impact of any import surges. However, for sensitive agricultural products subject to the special agricultural safeguards arrangement, Australian exporters are able to benefit from a margin of preference over their non-FTA competitors.

The following PDF documents are available from DFAT's website:

When TAFTA commenced in 2005, Australian tariffs on all agri-food and forest products were at 5 per cent or below. Australia eliminated these tariffs for goods of Thai origin when the Agreement entered into force, with the exception of canned tuna, which was reduced to 2.5 per cent, before being eliminated in 2007.

The final text of the Agreement is available from the Australian Government's online guide to Free Trade Agreements.

Agri-food and forest products exports

Key outcomes for agri-food and forest products exports (base rate as at 30 June 2003) of Australian origin (see also Rules of Origin chapter 4 and annex 4.1 of the Agreement) include:

Meat

  • reduced the 32 per cent tariff for sheep meat to zero from 2010 onward 
  • reduced the 51 per cent tariff on beef to 40 per cent and the 33 per cent tariff on beef offal to 30 per cent, phasing these rates to zero in 2020.

Dairy

  • eliminated tariffs on infant formula (previously 5 per cent), lactose (up to 20 per cent), casein and milk albumen (10 per cent), and phased the tariffs on butter fat, milkfood, yoghurt, dairy spreads and ice cream to zero from 2010
  • provided additional quota for Australia of 2,200 tonnes for skim milk powder and 120 tonnes for liquid milk and cream, expanding by 17 per cent at five-yearly intervals until 2025, when all tariffs and quotas will be eliminated, and
  • is phasing the tariffs for butter and cheese, other milk powders and concentrates to zero in 2020.

Grains and related products

  • eliminated the tariffs on unroasted malt (according to the value, equivalent of 28 per cent) and wheat gluten (31 per cent), and
  • phased the tariffs on wheat flour (previously 32.6 per cent) and starch (31 per cent) to zero from 2010.

Fruit and Vegetables

  • phased tariffs on most fresh fruit and vegetables (previous base rates 33 per cent or 42 per cent) to zero from 2010. Tariffs on mandarins (42 per cent) and grapes (33 per cent) were immediately reduced to 30 per cent, and are being phased to zero in 2015
  • eliminated tariffs on most tropical fruit
  • provided additional quota for fresh potatoes, expanding yearly until 2020, when all tariffs and quotas will be eliminated. The 30 per cent tariffs for processed potatoes is being phased to zero in 2015, and
  • reduced tariffs on fruit juices and canned fruit to zero from 2010. The previous 30 per cent tariffs on canned mixed fruit and canned pineapple were eliminated from 2005.

Sugar

  • provided additional quota for sugar, expanding annually by 10 per cent, with tariff and quota free access from 2020.

Wine, Beer and Spirits

  • reduced 54 per cent tariff on wine to 40 per cent, and is phasing the tariff to zero in 2015, and
  • for beer and spirits, reduced 60 per cent tariffs to 30 per cent, before phasing to zero from 2010.

Other Processed Foods

  • eliminated 10 per cent tariffs on chocolate confectionery, and phased the 30 per cent tariff on sugar confectionery to zero from 2010
  • for bakery products, immediately eliminated tariffs on crisp bread and some cereals, and phased tariffs of 25-30 per cent to zero from 2010.

Other Products

  • eliminated tariffs of up to 10 per cent on hides and skins
  • eliminated the 1 per cent tariff on wool and bound the tariff on cotton at zero, and
  • either eliminated, or phased to zero from 2010, tariffs of up to 30 per cent for forests products.

The following PDF document is available on the DFAT website: Thai tariff commitments PDF Icon PDF [55kb]

Special Agricultural Safeguards (Chapter 5 of the Agreement)

Special Agricultural Safeguards (SSGs) apply to some sensitive agricultural products under TAFTA. Annex on products subject to Special Agricultural Safeguards of Thailand PDF Icon PDF [59kb].

Thailand nominated 41 tariff items to be eligible for SSG provisions covering certain meat, horticultural and dairy products for which tariffs will phase to zero by 2015 or 2020.

Administration of SSGs in Thailand

  • The Thai Customs Department monitors imports of specified products coming from Australia on a calendar year basis. (A running tally of imports is available from the Thai Customs Department website under TAFTA, www.customs.go.th).
  • Additional duties will automatically apply when import volumes reach the specified trigger volumes, unless the Thai Cabinet decides not to apply them.
  • Thailand is required to advise the Australian Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry that the trigger volume has been reached, and the date it was reached, within ten days of the application of the SSG. .

Adjusted trigger volumes

Adjusted trigger volumes refer to the import level for 2012 that has been adjusted down to allow for product volumes in transit to Thailand when the SSG triggered in 2011.

Shipments en route to Thailand when the adjusted trigger volume is reached, with a contract settled before the adjusted trigger volume is reached, attract the TAFTA preferential rate, but are counted in the volume of imports towards the following year’s trigger volume.

Once adjusted trigger volumes for 2012 are confirmed by Thailand, DAFF will provide further advice Stakeholders may view the TAFTA section on the Thai Customs website (www.customs.go.th) regularly for updates on the running tally of imports subject to SSG provisions. Further information on import volumes can be obtained via the Thai Customs Department Hotline on +66 2667 6896.

If you would like to receive updates on SSG provisions, please Subscribe to Thailand - SSG Products.

Australia: Administration of TAFTA safeguards

Australia’s TAFTA safeguard measures, which operated from 2005 as part of the implementation of TAFTA, concluded on 31 December 2008.

Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures and Food Standards (Chapter 6 of the Agreement)

TAFTA includes commitments on sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures, operational quarantine matters and food standards consistent with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) SPS Agreement.

The Agreement provides for enhanced consultative arrangements in these areas through the establishment of the Expert Group on Sanitary and Phytosanitary and Food Standards (Expert Group).

The Expert Group meets annually to:

  • enhance mutual understanding of each other’s SPS, agricultural and food standards
  • consult on matters related to the development or application of SPS measures and other agricultural and food standards that affect or may affect trade between the parties
  • review and assess progress of both countries’ priority market access interests
  • consult on requests for recognition of equivalence of SPS measures or other agricultural and food standards
  • consult on matters relating to the harmonisation of standards
  • coordinate capacity-building and technical cooperation programs and 
  • strengthen cooperation in the WTO, Codex Alimentarius Commission, the Office Internationale des Epizooties, and the International Plant Protection Convention.

This commitment for enhanced bilateral consultations on technical issues does not:

  • affect Australia’s approach to import risk analysis
  • pre-empt or compromise any specific import risk assessments
  • compromise the integrity of our quarantine system.

Nothing in the chapter undermines either country’s right to determine the level of protection it considers appropriate.