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Free Trade « Previous | |Next »
December 3, 2003

A break from the current obsessions of national politics to something more far reaching. There is an article in the Sydney Morning Herald by Jonathan Edwards, a financial economist for the ANZ bank. He is saying somethign important:

"Australia is today negotiating a free trade pact with the United States, which could well be useful. But a trade pact with the US is no kind of substitute for trade pacts with Asia. Australia exports more than five times as much to Asia as to the US, and while exports to Asia have been rising exports to the US have been falling....A region-wide trade agreement would certainly be in Australia's interests, because the more widespread and comprehensive the agreement the greater the probability that Australia could talk its way into it, and the bigger the gain to our trade. But it is not yet part of Australian policy to encourage the creation of such a wide and comprehensive pact in the Asia-Pacific region. It should be."

Makes you wonder doesn't it? What are our political masters up to? Do they think that the US is the future? That the US will always be the engine room of capitalism? Just how useful will that free trade pact be for Australia?

Edwards then points out something that is pretty crucial:

"Australia has already been excluded from the ASEAN+3 discussions, it has already been refused trade pact negotiations with ASEAN and with Japan, and the schedule with China means that the game will be well into the second half by the time Australia turns up to play. More importantly, the Howard Government has no grand plan to take advantage of the trade forces now reshaping East Asia, no vision of what outcome it would wish to encourage and no willingness to deploy the means to achieve it."

Trade policy in Canberra is all about cutting deals with the US that is going ever more protectionist. Just what are the politicians up to?

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 7:25 AM | | Comments (0)