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By Juan Prado, Esq.
Llona & Bustamante Abogados
San Isidri, Peru

On February 12, 2018, the governments of Australia and Peru signed a free trade agreement in order to improve economic relations between the two countries. The free trade agreement will benefit Peruvian consumers by halting the increase of current custom duties, gradually eliminating certain customs duties, and preventing the implementation of new custom duties including those on content transmitted electronically.

This trade agreement becomes a strong platform to facilitate and support the growth and competitiveness of SMEs and professional services. It will give increased access and reduced restrictions for foreign investments in Australia, and it will allow temporary entry of certain Peruvian business people and skilled professionals into Australia in order to trade goods, supply services, or conduct investments. There is also enhanced recognition of professional qualifications and improved licensing and recognition arrangements in professional service sectors between Peru and Australia.

In order to guarantee the free flow of data for service suppliers and investors, the agreement aims to provide fair and reasonable access of Peruvian business to telecommunication services and networks in Australia, fair treatment of Peruvian public telecommunications services by major suppliers in Australia and reasonable rates for international mobile roaming services in Australia. There are also commitments to protect privacy, enforce consumer protection, and combat spam messages.

Peru and Australia plan to increase cooperation to protect consumers from anti-competitive businesses, eliminate bribery and corruption in international trade and investment, promote integrity, honesty, and responsibility amongst its public officials, and to encourage private enterprises to develop internal auditing controls in order to prevent and detect acts of corruption.

Additionally, both Peru and Australia intend to protect and enforce intellectual property rights.

Peru and Australia are working together to promote and develop education, research, and innovation. There will be more opportunities for Peruvians to receive education from Australian education providers. PAFTA also seeks to help women benefit from the opportunities created in the agreement by enhancing their access to markets, science and technology, and financing.

Australia has offered temporary entry commitments to Peruvian business people and skilled professionals and also to spouses and dependents of Peruvian business persons, consistent with existing Australian immigration frameworks.

Finally, this agreement shall enter into full force and effect when both countries follows their own domestic treaty making processes. On the Peruvian side, Congress shall pass the approval of the free trade agreement and on the Australian side this process includes the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties inquiry. These processes are scheduled to happen on the second semester of this year.