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The United States-Australia Free Trade Agreement (FTA) entered into force on January 1, 2005. U.S. two-way trade with Australia was $26.7 billion in 2009, up 23 percent from 2004. U.S. goods exports were $18.9 billion in 2009, up 33 percent from 2004, and U.S. goods imports were $7.8 billion, up 3.5 percent from 2004.
Agricultural trade between the United States and Australia continued to grow in 2009. The FTA established working groups aimed at promoting closer cooperation between the two countries in this sector and creating fora for discussing agricultural and sanitary and phytosanitary issues. The working groups met in August 2009 to address specific bilateral animal and plant health matters with a view to facilitating agricultural trade.
In October 2009, the United States and Australia completed the fourth annual FTA review. The two sides reviewed implementation of the agreement and exchanged views on a range of issues under the FTA, including trade in agriculture products, sanitary and phytosanitary issues, government procurement, and protection of intellectual property rights.
The United States and Australia also discussed each government’s implementation of the obligations contained in the environment chapter of the FTA and exchanged views on how to improve communication on trade and environment issues, including possible collaboration. Both governments agreed to hold discussions between trade and environment experts in the coming months.
The FTA review also provided an opportunity to further a discussion of labor issues and potential areas for labor cooperation. As a result, it was agreed that labor officials from the two governments would meet in the coming months to build on this dialogue.
In September 2008, the United States announced its intention to begin negotiations to join the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership agreement, a high-standard FTA between Singapore, Chile, New Zealand, and Brunei Darussalam, intended to serve as a vehicle for Trans-Pacific economic integration.
Shortly after the U.S. decision to join the negotiations, Australia, Peru, and Vietnam indicated their interest in participating as well.