A bilateral free trade agreement between the USA and Australia is likely to be of only marginal benefit to Australian businesses. Evaluate this statement.
The value of free trade is a contentious issue; the true virtue of free trade is providing greater freedom of choice to the consumer. However, a free trade agreement with the US would occur at the disadvantage of Australia's local interests, economic, political and cultural. In the long term global democratic principles are warped to the advantage of minorities that exert an unhealthy dominance over governments, humanity and the environment. Thus a proposal for such an agreement extends far beyond the question of trade and could have a very serious impact on Australia's future sovereignty and independence.
Australian policies which are USs targets have been listed by the US Trade Representative Bob Zoellick, in a letter to the US Congress dated November 13, 2002. (P. Magnusson. 2003, A man of many missions trade honcho Bob Zoellick has a strong diplomatic agenda, Business Week, 31st March, p.94). The target is to remove Australia's remaining restrictions on foreign investment and monopoly control over the media, telecommunications, airlines, banking, etc. The aim is to treat them as traded commercial goods, ignoring the fact that societies have often made the democratic decision that public regulation, transparency and accountability and often public provision of these services is required to ensure that there is equitable access to high quality essential services. (A. Dawson 2002, Trade based on mutual benefit and respect, The Guardian, 20th November, p.18)Another demand of the US is for the removal of the Foreign Investment Review Board as part of the Government's abandonment of its power to veto major foreign investments and control. (A. Dawson 2002, Trade based on mutual benefit and respect, The Guardian, 20th November, p.18)For example, the recent decision by the Australian Competition and ConsumerCommission to allow the sharing of programs between Optus and Foxtel pay-TVopens the way to further winding back of restrictions on monopoly control and ownership of the media. (A. Lawrence 2002, The implications of the Foxtel-Optus Content Sharing Deal, Business Week, 3rd Jan, p.53) Cross media ownership, foreign ownership, local content and all the other rules that stand in the way of complete domination of the media by one or two magnates will be abolished if the proposed FTA goes ahead.
As part of the free trade agreement (FTA) with Australia, the US is also seeking agreement from Australia to remove any laws or regulations that might restrict or disadvantage the exports of US transnational corporations to Australia. They include Australian labelling laws regarding genetically modified products; quarantine regulations that restrict the import of agricultural products, abolition of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, abolition of local content rules for film and television and...