Australian businesses in the architecture and design sector are being encouraged to take advantage of the opportunities presented by the new Free Trade Export Agreements with Korea, Japan and China.

The ‘Open for Business’ campaign was introduced by the Federal Government in close consultation with Austrade and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

It aims to encourage small and medium business owners in various sectors to take advantage of the three separate agreements between Australia and these key Asian nations.

In particular, it suggests the recently concluded agreement between Australia and China will open the door for Australian architecture practices looking to enter the lucrative Chinese market.

While there have been many instances of Australian architects working on projects in China in recent years, there have been constraints on the type of work they could undertake. With the new agreement, practices are now poised to take advantage of licenses which allow them to deliver full-service architecture work.


A new conceptual design in Tianjin by Leffler Simes Architects. The Australian practice features in video case studies outlining Australian opportunities in the national advertising campaign.

As well as electronic, print and digital advertising, the campaign includes North Asia FTA Information Seminars taking place across the country (, a grants program (, an FTA portal incorporating a sophisticated tariff finder, and offshore promotional activities to traders and investors by Austrade and other agencies.

Related: Leffler Simes Architects director Steve Evans features in national advertising campaign

Architecture & Construction companies and the Free Trade Agreements

The China Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA) guarantees wholly foreign-owned Australian construction and engineering companies may undertake a range of defined projects anywhere in China. In addition, larger and higher value projects may be undertaken in Shanghai on a joint basis with Chinese construction firms provided the Australian partner is established in the Shanghai Free Trade Zone (SFTZ). In such cases, under ChAFTA, restrictive foreign investment ratios otherwise applicable to such projects will not be applied.

  • This commitment means that for Australian construction companies registered in the SFTZ, they will be able to undertake a wider range of commercially meaningful projects.
  • For architects, engineers and urban planners, ChAFTA allows for the establishment of wholly-Australian owned businesses in these sectors in China.
  • Providing the best treatment under any of its FTAs, China will take into account Australian experience in assessing applications from Australian-owned firms for higher level qualifications, allowing Australian architectural and urban planning firms established in China to obtain more expansive business licences to undertake higher value commercial projects in China.

The Japan-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement (JAEPA) gives the commitment by the Australian and Japanese governments to encourage and support efforts towards mutual recognition of professional services qualifications.

  • Where industry seeks government support for mutual recognition initiatives, Australia can pursue these interests directly with Japan under the JAEPA framework.
  • Australian professionals will benefit from guaranteed visa access arrangements, including for their spouse and dependants, to enter and stay in Japan.
  • A broad range of Australian professionals, including architects and building engineers, will benefit from Japan’s commitment to guarantee existing market access.
  • Japan has committed to confer any future preferential treatment for the professionals of other countries to Australian providers.

The Korea-Australia Free Trade Agreement (KAFTA) guarantees that Australian engineers will benefit from closer collaboration between Engineers Australia and the Korean Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning, via a mutual recognition arrangement, signed on 6 May 2015.