Australia's trade woes (letter)by Brian HandleyNews Weekly
, May 21, 2005
The Australian trade deficit woes are now endemic and, when global investment markets come to this realisation, more than our dollar will be hit; it will be our whole standard of living.
The historical "real" wealth of this country was once underwritten by both our agricultural and mining exports, while concurrently building our own manufacturing base that, in the 1960s, represented about 21 per cent of GDP.
Now, however, manufacturing is down to 11 per cent, nearly the lowest among the OECD countries.
As manufacturing has gone into decline, so has the farming industry, as both the Coalition and Labor have embraced the new "free trade" mantra that has seen a flood of poor quality foods (and textiles) dumped onto our domestic markets.
Rather than oppose this new economic orthodoxy, the National Party has joined the chorus of "get big or get out", and so itself is in serious decline.
Rather than fight to protect our "domestic market support schemes", the so-called farmers' party has encouraged farmers to leave the land with the help of government-funded exit packages.
In contrast - notwithstanding all the rhetoric about free trade - Japan, Europe and the US are trending in the opposite direction if one cares to looks at actual levels of direct farm subsidies.
It would seem the chickens are now coming home to roost with Australia's chronic trade deficit figures that just refuse to turn around.
Nonetheless, the free trade "true believers" will continue their mindless crusade to the point that Australia will in fact lose its economic sovereignty.
Enter the IMF and goodbye political sovereignty.Brian Handley,