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The Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA) is a preferential trade agreement between Australia and the United States along the model of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). AUSFTA was signed on 18 May 2004 and officially entered into force on 1 January 2005. Paragraph 10 of the Free Trade Agreement gives a clear meaning to the term «cross-border trade in services» and provides an open environment for suppliers to operate. It requires each country to assign national or most-favoured-nation treatment to the other`s service suppliers and prohibits numerous restrictions on market access and transfers. For the United States, the free trade agreement improved the overall trade deficit situation and created a trade surplus with Australia, which increased by 31.7 per cent in the first quarter of 2005 compared to the same period in 2004. U.S. exports to Australia rose 11.7% in the first quarter of 2005 to nearly $3.7 billion in the quarter. Agricultural exports to Australia increased by 20%. [Citation required] · Both sides pledge to achieve a high level of environmental protection and not to weaken or reduce environmental laws in order to attract trade and investment. · Recognizing the unique circumstances of this agreement – including, for example, the long-standing economic relationship between the United States and Australia, their shared legal traditions, and the confidence of their investors in their respective markets – the two countries agreed not to introduce procedures into this free trade agreement that would allow investors to settle disputes with governments. This issue is reconsidered if circumstances change. Government-to-government dispute resolution procedures continue to be available to resolve investment disputes. Need help accessing the benefit of free trade? Consult the user manual (PDF 532KB) or send a E-Mail-fta@austrade.gov.au The Australian government did not have a majority in the Senate and therefore needed the support of the opposition Labor Party, the Greens, Democrats or independent senators to obtain ratification.

The government put a lot of pressure on Labour Party leader Mark Latham to get opposition support for the deal (knowing that among many Labour members, Latham saw the free trade deal as beneficial). .