John Menadue. The government just does not get it on Free Trade Agreements.

I hope readers are not getting tired that I have said many times that the government continues to exaggerate the benefits of bilateral FTAs, most recently with Japan, Korea and China. With so little to show after two wasted years – increased debt, increased deficits, and not ‘stopping the boats’ despite telling us of success a thousand times – it is perhaps inevitable that the government will cling to small improvements in trade. But the gains are small. In the AFR on 30 September 2015, Bill Carmichael, former chairman of the Australian Industries Assistance Commission, said

We will undoubtedly gain valuable export opportunities from the Free Trade Agreement with China. But we could have achieved a great deal more, if when preparing Australia’s market opening offers, our negotiators had recognised the obligation to reduce our trade barriers as an opportunity to improve productivity. … The opportunity to life productivity was missed by the Abbott government in negotiating all three FTAs concluded last year. … The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade … has resisted any change in its flawed approach to trade negotiations. … In defending secrecy, Trade Minister Andrew Robb maintains that public involvement would compromise his negotiating position. As has been explained in the AFR, there is no conflict between his need for secret negotiations and a Productivity Commission process, introducing public input to our negotiating agenda. DFAT’s flawed approach to trade policy cannot be pushed aside as having marginal consequences.

See link to full article below.  John Menadue


John Menadue is the publisher of Pearls & Irritations. He has had a distinguished career both in the private sector and in the Public Service.

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