Will Australia lose from our China Free Trade Agreement?

Monday, November 10, 2014

Will the Australian-China Free Trade Agreement, which is set to be finalised by Tony Abbott in approximately 1 week, be anything like the one we did with America? Nobody was on watch for Australia when the US/Australia Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act was passed in August 2004!

Free Trade Agreements (FTA) are agreements relating to trade between two countries. The agreements cover farming, beef, pharmaceuticals, bio security, manufacturing, cotton, steel, wine and more.

When Australia went to the table in 2004 to negotiate the FTA with the US they went in unprepared, and with the misguided belief that you have a “special relationship” with your negotiating partner; and they are going to look after your interests. Forget about getting approval from your Parliament, or establishing a firm negotiating position with major stakeholders. And don’t bother about the comprehensive process for approving the outcomes of negotiations. Simply allow the Prime Minister responsible for the deal to sign it, then rush it through Parliament without meaningful public debate. (from the book “How to Kill a Country”).

This is what the Howard Liberal Government signed away with support of the Labor Government in 2004.

Australia Unites States America
We will completely open our market to all US 
agricultural exports, removing all tariffs,
quotas, seasonal restrictions and subsidies
from day one.
The US is allowed to keep as many of its
tariffs, quotas, seasonal restrictions and 
(enormous) subsidies in place.
 No tariffs remain. Tariffs remain in place for key sectors 
like wool (10yrs), wine (11yrs), steel,
as well as beef, dairy, horticulture
and cotton (18yrs). 
No safeguards negotiated.  If Australian exports to the US rise
'too quickly', or Australian prices become
too competitive against the exchange 
rate, the US can slap their tariffs back on,
no questions asked.
 No Seasonal restrictions. During Australia's peak productions times
of certain horticultural products (like
avocado's), Australia is allowed to export
only a limited amount to the US. 

 No restrictions on US sugar imports. Severe restrictions on the importation of
Australian sugar will remain in place. 

Our beef producers will have to wait for 18 years before quotas and tariffs are removed but price safeguards will remain to protect US beef.

If that was the government's beliefAustralians would surely be startled, if not alarmed, to know that under the FTA we have agreed to let US trade officials sit on the bodies that will influence our quarantine standards. Formalising the participation of US trade representatives in our quarantine decision-making processes will give foreign government officials the power to intervene in policies crucial to our national economic security. 

Australia FTA with the US and its impact...

  • Our medicines will be more expensive because the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme will be undermined, and competition from generics will be almost extinguished.
  • Our agricultural exports will be compromised because we open the door to new pests and diseases.
  • ‘Buy American’ norms will prevail over ‘Buy Australian: in our government procurement markets.
  • Royalty flows to the United States will increase through greater protection for US patents and copyrights.

This is a very brief overview from HOW TO KILL A COUNTRY written by Linda Weiss, Elizabeth Thurbon and John Mathews. I advise all Australians to read the book. 

One of my greatest concerns about the Free Trade Agreement with China is, investment companies bringing out their own workers. 

Andrew Rob, Minister for Trade and responsible for the agreement, ruled out cheap labour but he didn’t say no labour at all. I predict many Australians will lose their jobs. Australia will not benefit from similar tax collection that Australian companies have to pay and we will see more foreign ownership of our land and assets. 

Australians should have the right to see the agreement in full, before signing. What has Andrew Rob and the Abbott government got to hide otherwise?

By Pauline Hanson



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