Japan and South Korea free trade with Australia starts

CONSUMERS will have access to cheaper cars, electronics and whitegoods now that free trade agreements with Japan and South Korea have come into effect.

The agricultural sector is set to be one of the biggest winners from the deal, with tariffs on Australian beef, wine and other major products to be greatly reduced.

Australian miners will also benefit from the deal with tariffs to be cut on some coal, oil and mineral products; as well as Australian financial and legal services providers, who will be granted greater access to Japanese markets.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the agreement represented a historic development in economic relations between the two countries and is the most significant bilateral economic agreement in more than six decades.

Federal Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane said on Thursday Australian businesses and investors now had a competitive edge in a market with a combined population of more than 177 million people and a combined GDP of more than $6 trillion.

"This is a huge opportunity as Japan is our second largest trading partner and Korea our fourth largest with combined two-way goods and services trade worth more than $100 billion," he said.

"These trade agreements will deliver new jobs and expansion opportunities across the Australian economy with major openings for the Australian resource, pharmaceutical and food processing sectors."

Last month Australia signed a free trade agreement with China.

Discussions on an agreement with India are in an advanced stage.