Unfair trade fear unsettles talks

27 Oct, 2014 04:50 AM
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Trade and Investment Minister Andrew Robb.
There is a real sense that we are within reach of the finishing line
Trade and Investment Minister Andrew Robb.

COMPETITION from state-owned enterprises (SOE) is a key stumbling block for two massive trade agreements which the federal government is trying to settle over the next few weeks.

The Australian Industry Group (AIG) has called on the government to ensure that manufacturers don't face unfair competition from state-owned enterprises as part of the free trade deal the government wants to announce in November.

And trade ministers from the 12 countries in the US-backed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) were negotiating on Sunday in Sydney over remaining issues, including state-owned rules.

In a break with the general business enthusiasm for a China deal, the AIG has released a survey urging the government to consider the full impact of any agreement on all of business. It finds 51.6 per cent of ­surveyed business feel they would be hurt by the removal of Chinese tariffs, while only 11 per cent say they will benefit from access to global supply chains.

While the study shows a trade deal had the potential to bring enormous benefits, AIG chief executive Innes Willox said: "Realising this potential will require skilful and determined negotiation and close attention to the diversity of the Australian economy."

The companies were concerned about loss of dumping protection, unfair competition from state-owned enterprises, intellectual property theft and erosion of local standards.Focused talks

Trade Minister Andrew Robb said on Sunday the TPP talks were more focused.

"There is a real sense that we are within reach of the finishing line. There is also a preparedness to make some of the difficult decisions."

A plenary session on Sunday was said to be focusing on solutions rather than sorting through claims.

Before the talks New Zealand Trade Minister Tim Groser said the key stumbling blocks were agricultural market access, intellectual property and disciplines on state-owned enterprises.

Officials are understood to have made significant progress on SOE competition issues in recent talks, although the TPP group doesn't include China.

The ministers have been discussing a leaders level meeting at one of he forthcoming regional summits although other observers are sceptical such a meeting will actually conclude the negotiations.

AFR
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READER COMMENTS

Meg
27/10/2014 6:55:31 AM

Like all trade deals before it, this is one more disaster for rural Australians...the previous trade 'deals' have been a farce and tantamount to treason...selling out the nation to give MPs their moment of glory in the blaze of media...while the repercussions of those scandalous sellouts haunt the rural sector interminably.
LTF
27/10/2014 12:18:06 PM

It is treason for our Government to talk about removing all barriers to global trade into and out of Australia while they preside over regulated conditions which hamstring local businesses ability to compete globally. Before Aust Govts even consider exposing our local wealth creating industries to unfettered and corrupted global markets, they must remove all local regulations which inflate our costs above lowest global rates. Once they do that, it would be a whole new ball game. Get rid of all regulations which have any welfare component and our producers will beat global competitors.
Carrie
28/10/2014 4:51:43 AM

What happened to fair trade? We should be taking a leaf out of the class action the cattle people started yesterday because Government Policies have been responsible for the demise of family farms and small business, e.g. manufacturing, etc.
Bushie Bill
28/10/2014 8:42:39 AM

Not true, Carrie. Read some social and economic history. The numbers of farms and farmers have been in decline for at least a century, and this is a totally predictable and natural outcome of a national economy and society growing more wealthy. We still produce more wealth from agriculture and production of food that Australians and other people want than we have done before. The same argument applies to manufacturing. As we grow wealthier, we give up making T-shirts and shoes and put our higher skills and education into more profitable industries such as high tech software and machinery.
Bushie Bill
28/10/2014 8:44:27 AM

And Carrie, one more thing. There is no such thing as fair trade. It is a crutch used by those who can't or won't compete.
GFA
28/10/2014 10:18:20 AM

What a load of crap, Bushie. There are plenty of workers who were sacked or made redundant with no say in the matter. They would love to still have their jobs in making clothes, cars, food products, and thousands of other things that they no longer have the opportunity to do. Talk about being a wealthy country means nothing to them, and is not true anyway. We have a bigger debt load than ever before. We have record high levels of welfare payments and above average growth in debt levels and below global level profits. Our equity and savings are on the slide.
Bushie Bill
29/10/2014 8:07:27 AM

Get a grip, GFA. Ask a foundry worker or a factory worker if they would prefer to be working in a resort or a restaurant, earning more money, or stay in their low-value mindless boring repetitious dead-end jobs. We have one of the lowest debts in the world and it is absolutely ignorant to claim otherwise. There is no threat other than ignorant fools and whingeing "you owe me a living" leaners to our continuing prosperity..
GFA
29/10/2014 12:12:27 PM

Some of that may be true Bushie, but most of the people who lost their jobs are still out of work & on welfare. Check out the true unemployment & welfare situation these days. It is out of control. If people on welfare were disqualified from voting due to conflict of interest, we would have about half as many voters. The few that have got work to replace their long term careers are mostly much less happy. Have a look at the Asian countries without our ludicrous anti work arrangements and you will see happy, motivated prospering fully employed and engaged people, who are over taking Australia.
Bushie Bill
29/10/2014 1:53:42 PM

No GFA, it is not "(s)ome of that may be true". All of it is true. if you want to exclude some voters because of your perceived conflict of interests, there would be no voters at all, especially from the "you owe me a living because I am a farmer" brigade. Even you, with your quirky and shallow knowledge of how the economy and the Australian political system works, would be able to see that, wouldn't you think, GFA?
GFA
29/10/2014 2:27:19 PM

Yeah Bushie, sure whatever you say
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