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At a Dec. 6 meeting officials from the U.S. and Australia praised the benefits each country has enjoyed as a result of their bilateral free trade agreement. A press release from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative states that since the FTA took effect Jan. 1, 2005, U.S. exports of goods to Australia have increased by 59 percent to $22.2 billion and the U.S. trade surplus in this sector has increased by 97 percent to $12.7 billion despite a 10.3 percent decline in 2016. In addition, U.S. exports of services to Australia have soared 216 percent to $22.3 billion, boosting the U.S. trade surplus in this sector by 380 percent to $14 billion. Trade in goods and services has increased substantially for both countries, USTR notes, reaching $61 billion in 2016.
Topics discussed at the Dec. 6 meeting included specific issues related to trade in goods and services as well as issues related to intellectual property and investment. Related concerns cited in USTR’s most recent foreign trade barriers report include Australian state or territorial governments cancelling existing foreign investment projects and delays in notifications of requests for marketing approval by third parties for patented pharmaceuticals. Officials also received a report on efforts to address sanitary and phytosanitary issues affecting agricultural trade, which include restrictions on fresh beef and beef products; heat-treated, shelf-stable beef products; fresh/chilled pork and bone-in products; uncooked poultry meat; and apples.