Australia-US Free Trade Agreement Technical Barriers to Trade

The Australia – United States Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA) entered into force on 1 January 2005.  While the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has overall carriage of the Agreement, the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science (the Department) is the Chapter Coordinator for Chapter 8 of the Agreement, Technical Barriers to Trade.

Technical Barriers to Trade

In Australia, technical regulations for food and manufactured goods are co-ordinated between the Australian Government and State and Territory governments and there are only a small number of standards writing bodies.  In the US, standards setting bodies are far more numerous and operate in governmental and private spheres and at federal and sub-federal levels.

A better understanding of respective technical regulations and standards should lead to reduced production costs for exports of food and manufactures. In turn, the savings can be passed on to consumers and allow for greater choice of products without diminishing their safety or reliability.

More information on the department’s technical barriers to trade responsibilities can be found on the Technical Barriers to Trade page.

Summary of Chapter

The AUSFTA builds on existing rights and obligations under the World Trade Organization Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade.

A mechanism to address issues raised by either Party relating to the development, adoption, application or enforcement of standards, technical regulations or conformity assessment procedures has been established through the use of a Chapter Coordinator for each Party.  The department is Australia’s Chapter Coordinator.

The Chapter Coordinator’s functions include:

  • monitoring the implementation and administration of the Chapter
  • promptly addressing any issue that a Party raises related to the development, adoption, application, or enforcement of standards, technical regulations, or conformity assessment procedures
  • enhancing cooperation in the development and improvement of standards, technical regulations, and conformity assessment procedures
  • exchanging information on standards, technical regulations, and conformity assessment procedures, in response to all reasonable requests for such information from a Party
  • facilitating the consideration of any sector-specific proposal a Party makes for further cooperation between conformity assessment bodies, both governmental and nongovernmental, in the territories of the Parties
  • facilitating the consideration of a request that a Party recognise the results of conformity assessment procedures conducted by bodies in the other Party’s territory, including a request for the negotiation of an agreement, in a sector nominated by that other Party
  • facilitating cooperation in the area of specific technical regulations by referring enquiries from a Party to the appropriate regulatory authorities
  • on request of a Party, consulting on any matter arising under the Chapter and
  • reviewing the Chapter in light of any developments under the TBT Agreement and developing recommendations for amendments to this Chapter in light of those developments.

Contact: Scott Wilson
Manager, Trade Policy
Trade and International Branch
Email: Scott.Wilson@industry.gov.au
Ph: +61 2 676 1189

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