Sweet FA from FTA
So far, all we have on the US-Australia Free Trade Agreement is a rewritten press release, but I think that’s enough to conclude that this is an election-loser for Howard. The reports have noted that there’s nothing on sugar and nothing much on beef or dairy, but it’s more revealing in some ways to look at the list of wins. Of particular interest is that the US Federal government procurement market has been opened up to Australian suppliers. As of last weekend, our demands included state government procurement as well, particularly in California.
And of course we have yet to see the list of concessions on things like IP, parallel importing and so on. The PBS looks to have been kept off the table, but I wouldn’t count on it.
Overall, this is about as unbalanced an agreement as could be imagined.
Update I’m travelling and haven’t yet had time for a detailed study, but I thought I’d look at the US reponse. Naturally, it’s anything but front-page news. Buried deep in the business section of the NYT, I found this article, which notes, with respect to the abolition of tariffs on manufactures
supporters of the trade pact said its main significance, assuming Congressional approval, was the virtual elimination of import duties on American manufactured goods to Australia. Currently, the United States pays 10 times as much as Australia does in tariffs in the joint trade between the two countries.
This is a pretty fair summary of the distribution of gains and losses in the deal. The Washington Post has a story leading to a broken link and the LA Times nothing I could find.
Further updateI’ll take this chance to welcome Ken Parish who’s back as an active blogger. Ken is deferring judgement, but has a lot of useful links.