Australian commitments on services and investment

Overall

  • Under the FTA, Australia has undertaken to guarantee Thai service providers and investors access to the Australian market in a range of sectors
    • and has undertaken to minimise discrimination Thai service providers and investors may face in the Australian market compared with Australian service providers and investors.
  • The sectors in which Australia has made these undertakings largely mirror those sectors in which Australia has indicated a willingness in the WTO to make commitments to other WTO members in the current WTO negotiations
    • these sectors are set out below.
  • Australia has not made any undertakings to Thailand under the FTA to provide access in the audio-visual, broadcasting or media sectors, among others.
  • Australia has not made any undertakings that would allow higher levels of Thai ownership than currently permitted in Australian international or domestic airlines, Australian airports or Telstra
    • Australia's undertakings to Thailand on investment are all consistent with current Australian government policy.
  • The FTA does not include any undertakings on any government subsidies or grants provided to Australian service providers, service consumers or investors
    • governments remain free to maintain or impose conditions on such subsidies or grants they consider appropriate from time to time.

Australia’s commitments on foreign investment

  • Australia has made commitments to Thailand to permit Thai investment in certain sectors of the Australian market consistent with Australia’s current policy on foreign investment (the sectors are listed below).
  • Under the FTA, Australia permits Thai investment in business interests in those sectors without specific approval from the Australian government, except in the following circumstances:
    • acquisition of “substantial interests” in existing Australian businesses with total assets of $50 million or more
    • proposals to take over offshore companies whose Australian subsidiaries or assets are valued at $50 million or more or account for more than 50 percent of the target company’s global sales
    • proposals to establish new businesses in Australia involving a total investment of more than $10 million
    • investments by the Thai Government.
  • Australia also permits Thai investment in real estate that does not fall into any of the following categories:
    • non-residential commercial real estate, where the property is subject to a heritage listing, valued at more than $5 million
    • developed non-residential commercial real estate, where the property is not subject to a heritage listing, valued at $50 million or more
    • accommodation facilities
    • vacant urban real estate
    • residential real estate

Australia’s commitments on temporary entry of business people

  • Australia has also undertaken to provide access to Thai citizens visiting Australia for business purposes consistent with Australia’s current policies on temporary entry
    • unlike the other commitments Australia has made under the FTA, the commitments on temporary entry apply to all Thai citizens, regardless of the industry or services sector in which they work.
  • Under the FTA, Australia permits the temporary entry of Thai citizens without labour market testing in the following circumstances:
    • business visitors are permitted to enter and stay for up to three months
    • service sellers are permitted to enter and stay initially for six months, with a maximum stay of 12 months
    • intra-corporate transferees are permitted to enter and stay initially for up to four years with a total of up to ten years
    • contractual service suppliers are permitted to enter and stay for up to three years. Specialist Thai chefs entering as contractual service suppliers are permitted to enter and stay for up to four years
    • independent executives are permitted to enter and stay initially for up to four years
    • spouses and dependants of intra-corporate transferees are permitted to enter stay and work for the period of the intra-corporate transferee’s visa.
  • Thai citizens entering Australia under the FTA will be required to meet the conditions applying to the relevant visa, including any conditions relating to level of qualification/specialisation.

State and territory government measures

  • As with the WTO General Agreement on Trade in Services, Australia’s undertakings on trade in services under the FTA apply in general to State and Territory Government measures as well as Australian Government measures
    • Australia’s undertakings on services specifically exempt any State and Territory Government measures which are inconsistent with the general undertaking to provide access to and reduce discrimination against Thai service providers
    • Australia’s undertakings on investment exempt all State and Territory Government measures relating to mining and manufacturing.

Local government measures

  • The FTA does not affect the rights of local governments to maintain or introduce measures which may affect Thai service providers or investors, provided the intention of the measure is not to nullify the benefit of the undertaking to permit access.

Sectoral coverage

  • Under the FTA, Australia has made new undertakings to guarantee access to Thai service providers and investors in the sectors set out in this section
    • as noted above, these sectors mirror those on which Australia has offered to provide access to WTO members in the current WTO negotiations.
  • Australia has made undertakings in the following business services:
    • legal services: Australia will permit Thai service suppliers to provide advisory services in Thai law, third country law and international law, as well as international commercial arbitration services and other alternative dispute resolution services. Australia will also permit Thai lawyers to join local law firms in all states and territories except Western Australia and South Australia
    • landscape architectural services: Australia will permit Thai service suppliers to provide planning and design services for the aesthetic landscaping of parks, commercial and residential land
    • computer and computer-related services: Australia will permit Thai service suppliers to provide database services and other computer services. The commitment does not apply to content
    • mining and related services: Australia will permit Thai service suppliers to provide consultancy services incidental to mining, and other services incidental to mining, including drilling services, repair and dismantling services and well-casing services. In addition, Australia will permit Thai service suppliers to provide mining related scientific and technical consulting services, as well as mining site preparation (such as tunnelling).
  • In relation to communications services, Australia will not impose quotas on the number of satellite and mobile services and will permit unlimited Thai interest in Optus and Vodafone. Australia has not made any commitment on the ownership by Thai nationals of Telstra.
  • Australia will permit Thai service suppliers to provide the following environmental services: protection of ambient air and climate; remediation and cleanup of soil and water; noise and vibration abatement; and protection of biodiversity and landscape.
  • Australia has made the following undertakings relating to financial services:
    • banking: Australia will permit the Thai central bank and government monetary institutions to invest in Australia at interest without providing an assurance to the Reserve Bank that it will be a stable holder or the Australian dollar or that it will consult the Reserve Bank in the event of a significant change in its Australian dollar profile.
  • Australia will permit Thai service suppliers to provide the following education services: provision of Thai cooking training, Thai language training and training in Thai traditional massage through training institutes.
  • Australia has made the following undertakings relating to transport services:
    • air services — ground handling: Australia will permit Thai service suppliers to provide ground-handling services, including airport operation services, cargo handling and other supporting services for air transport. Australia’s undertakings do not extend to airport and terminal fire-fighting services.
    • maritime services: Australia will permit Thai service suppliers to provide cargo handling, customs clearance and maritime agency services (excluding cabotage). Australia will also permit Thai international maritime operators non-discriminatory access to tug assistance and fuelling at Australian ports, and reasonable and non-discriminatory rights to have their cargoes on-forwarded from ports using other modes of transport.
  • Australia will permit Thai service suppliers to provide automotive repair services.

Last Updated: 16 October 2015