The Australian Federation of Ukrainian Organisations (AFUO), supported by the Embassy of Ukraine in Australia and the Australia-Ukraine Chamber of Commerce (AUCC), has completed consultations with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) regarding the inclusion of Ukraine in the Australian System of Tariff Preferences (ASTP).
While we were advised that DFAT is currently not working on changes to the ASTP, it was acknowledged that the tariff system has not been reviewed in over 20 years. Following our discussions with DFAT, the ASTP will be placed higher on the Agenda, deemed as a medium term priority. The AFUO will maintain this initiative as a top priority and will be ready to re-engage once DFAT is ready.
Assistant Secretary, Latin America and Eastern Europe Branch at DFAT said “I appreciate the considerable effort you have taken in compiling the list of Australian businesses interested in reducing tariffs on imports from Ukraine. Although changes to the ASTP are not currently under consideration, this list serves as a useful starting point to identify specific obstacles to furthering business ties with Ukraine.” The full response may be found here.
AFUO Co-Chairs, Kateryna Argyrou and Stefan Romaniw, hosted a number of conference calls and consultations with DFAT representatives, including the Director and Desk Officer responsible for the East Europe and West Balkans section, the Assistant Director of the Market Access and Trade Facilitation section, along with representatives from the Australian and Ukrainian embassies. The discussions focused on improving the business relationship and reducing trade barriers between Australia and Ukraine. To this end, the AFUO will be working closely with DFAT on the following:
- Updating the list of businesses that would stand to benefit from reduced tariffs
- Identifying company and industry specific trade barriers that can be addressed in the short term
- Exploring the possibility of having Ukraine join the Working Holiday Maker (WHM) program
- Facilitating linkages between DFAT and the Ministry of Economy of Ukraine
- Engaging in the multilateral trade policy space, including in relation to the World Trade Organisation
- Coordinating efforts with the AUCC, the Embassy of Australia, and the Embassy of Ukraine
In March 2021, the AFUO wrote to the Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, The Hon Dan Tehan MP, urging the Australian Government to review the possibility of including Ukraine in the ASTP with the goal of reducing trade barriers between the two countries. In May 2021, Minister Tehan responded by requesting a list of Australian businesses interested in reducing tariffs for imports from Ukraine.
In order to provide a comprehensive picture of the trade potential between Australia and Ukraine, the AFUO formed a Working Group that focused on progressing the ASTP issue by conducting consultations with Australian businesses. Community consultations were held until September 2021. Through the consultation process, 85 Australian companies were identified that would stand to benefit from reduced trade barriers with Ukraine. The companies span across various industries, including agriculture, aerospace, mining, construction, pharmaceutical, financial services, and IT services.
The full research report titled “Reducing Trade Barriers Between Australia and Ukraine” and the identified list of companies may be found here .
The AFUO acknowledges the effort of the ASTP Working Group that went into researching and publishing the report and expresses gratitude to the Australian business community for their involvement and support.