The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has the lead on all trade issues, but the Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (the Department) provides advice and input on those issues related to its portfolio interests.
Primarily, the Department works in the multilateral trade and environment arena through its input into Australia's position on issues arising in the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
The Department works in the bilateral trade and environment arena through its input into the negotiation of Australia's Free Trade Agreements (FTAs).
The Department’s role in WTO work is to provide an environment policy perspective to the whole of government position that Australia takes forward. Australia has contributed to these negotiations with a view to enhancing the mutual supportiveness of the international trade and environment regimes.
The World Trade Organization (WTO) is the only global international organization dealing with the rules of trade between nations. At its heart are the WTO agreements, negotiated and signed by the bulk of the world's trading nations and ratified in their parliaments. WTO rules are designed to provide a predictable and non-discriminatory regime for trade between countries.
The chief WTO forum of interest to the Department is the WTO Committee on Trade and the Environment (CTE) which will continue to meet in regular session to discuss trade and environment issues other than the Doha Development Agenda (DDA) . DDA negotiations were suspended in July 2006 after key WTO members failed to progress discussions on agricultural and non-agricultural market access. The DDA was initially negotiated in November 2001 at the Fourth Ministerial Conference in Doha, Qatar. Previously, DDA discussions and negotiations took place in the CTE (paragraphs 32, 33 and 51 of the DDA) or its Special Session (paragraph 31 of the DDA).
DEWHA works closely with DFAT in the bilateral arena on environment related aspects of the various Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) that Australia is negotiating or preparing for. This involves a specific environment chapter (such as was requested by the United States in the Australia-US FTA) or advice on chapters with environment implications, such as Government Procurement, Services, Technical Barriers to Trade, and Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures. Australia has an FTA with the US, Singapore and Thailand. FTAs are currently being negotiated with China, Malaysia, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and New Zealand.
In 2008-09, the Department expects to work with DFAT on the
- Australia-China FTA Negotiations
- Australia-Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) FTA Analysis
- Australia-Japan FTA Feasibility Study
- Australia-Malaysia FTA Negotiations
- Australia-India FTA Negotiations
- Australia-Korea FTA Study
- Indonesia-Australia FTA Feasibility Study
More information on Australia's approach to negotiations on FTAs can be found on DFAT's website .