In brief

  • The Japan-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement will enter into force on 15 January 2015.
  • The agreement will deliver an immediate round of tariff cuts by Japan on 15 January 2015 followed by a further round of tariff cuts to take place on 1 April 2015.
  • It is the third free-trade agreement entered into by the Australian Government since entering into power having concluded the Korea-Australia Free Trade Agreement in December 2013 and more recently, the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement in November 2014.

The Australian Minister for Trade and Investment, Andrew Robb, has announced the Japan-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement (JAEPA) will enter into force on 15 January 2015, following the signing of the agreement on 8 July 2014.1

Australia and Japan are expected to ‘exchange notes’ in Canberra on 17 December 2014 to confirm that both countries have completed their domestic processes and are ready for the JAEPA to enter into force.

Japan is Australia’s second largest trading partner with two-way trade between the two countries reaching A$70.8 billion in 2013, more than ten percent of Australia’s total trade.2

The JAEPA is expected to deliver significant benefits to Australian exporters in a range of industries, including agriculture and processed foods, resources, manufacturing and services.

The agreement will deliver an immediate round of tariff cuts by Japan upon its entry into force on 15 January 2015, to be followed by a further round of tariff cuts on 1 April 2015.3

Once the JAEPA is fully implemented, more than 97% of Australia’s goods exported to Japan will receive preferential access or will be duty-free.4 Australian beef exports in particular will benefit from an 8% tariff cut in the first year with the current 38.5% tariff to be halved over the next 15 years, a move which is expected to give Australian beef exporters a significant advantage over their competitors.5

The JAEPA will also provide benefits to Japanese investors in Australia by raising the threshold for private Japanese investment into Australia.

We discussed the benefits under the JAEPA for Japanese investors and Australian exporters in our earlier article.6

The JAEPA is one of a series of free-trade agreements concluded by the Australian Government with the major economies of North Asia since coming into power in September 2013.  Negotiations between Korea and Australia regarding the Korea-Australia Free Trade Agreement were concluded in December 2013 with the agreement entering into force on 12 December 2014.7 More recently, negotiations on the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement were concluded on 17 November 20148 with the agreement expected to enter into force in the second half of 2015.