High cost of foregoing trade deal (letter)by John R. BarichNews Weekly
, April 12, 2008
I always enjoy Colin Teese's incisive trade analyses (e.g., "Rudd Government to re-examine FTAs", News Weekly
, March 29, 2008), but national strategy is much more then trade.
While Australia's free trade agreement with the United States may have cost us some benefits, I tend to side with former Secretary to the federal Treasury John Stone who recently said:
"I relate this history because there is, I believe, a parallel with Howard's crowning achievement - namely, the negotiation in 2004 of the Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement.
"In a perfect world, I am a multilateralist where trade negotiations are concerned; but this exception to that credo will, I predict, become as important to Australia over the decades ahead as the CER [Closer Economic Relations agreement] has been to New Zealand.
"And make no mistake: without the personal 'chemistry' of the Howard-Bush relationship, and the related standing of Australia in the US Senate where the agreement had to be ratified, it would never have happened." (Quadrant
, March 2008).
An objective assessment of Australia's strategic situation by Cameron Stewart (The Australian
, March 28, 2008) places Australia in 2050 in very perilous straits. Only the American alliance can balance the growing power of China, India and Indonesia.
This is worth the price of some loss of a trade advantage.John R. Barich,