Liberals’ FTA continues to cost Australia dearly

What’s that, George? You want Australia to take it without lubricant? Well, of course we’ll accept that. You know what a tough negotiator I am.

The Liberals’ disastrous 2004 US-Australia Free Trade Agreement continues to stuff us over royally:

A YEAR-long investigation of Australia’s free trade agreements has found they are often nothing of the kind.

The Productivity Commission has told the government there is little evidence to suggest Australia’s six free-trade agreements have produced ”substantial commercial benefits”.

Some may have actually reduced trade by introducing complex rules that make it difficult to sell goods made with products imported from countries not in the agreements.

And as for the IP rubbish we signed up for (in return for pretty much nothing other than the chance for John Howard to pretend he was influential on the world stage):

Copyright provisions inserted in the US-Australia Free Trade Agreement could eventually cost Australia as much as $88 million per year as the nation pays an extra 25 per cent each year in net royalty payments, ”not just to US copyright holders, but to all copyright holders”.

The copyright provisions extend payments from 50 years after an author’s death to 70 years and enshrine in Australian law ”rules that would otherwise be anti-competitive such as permitting the use of region codes on DVD players”.

The provisions have saddled Australia with copyright obligations ”even higher than in the US … because we matched their higher level of copyright protection but have maintained our lower level of copyright users’ rights”, the report says.

The net present value of the extra copyright costs imposed by the provisions agreed to by the Howard government when it signed a US-Australia agreement might amount to $700 million.

”And this is a pure transfer overseas, and hence pure cost to Australia,” the report says.

And it also affects medicine:

It finds provisions inserted in the US-Australia agreement granting drug manufacturers greater rights in their dealings with the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme had real potential for adverse outcomes and that ”vigilance was required to ensure this did not arise”.

No wonder we re-elected Howard in 2004 after negotiating such a fantastic agreement!

But slow down there. It’s important not to rush to judgment. As the Liberals said after a similarly negative set of figures back in January 2006 (“Exports plummet in post-FTA trade”), “it would take at least five years to assess the success of the agreement”.

Well – 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010. Times up, you “great economic managers”, you. Got any more excuses?

12 responses to “Liberals’ FTA continues to cost Australia dearly

  1. Good work on going back and picking out lies from their past.
    The Right Wing hacks are ALWAYS doing this to their enemies.

  2. Autarky now, autarky forever!

  3. What the hell does that mean?

  4. Ah, I see. We either adopt US rules on everything to the benefit of their corporations and without the protections their own citizens enjoy, or we’re North Korea.

    Sensible contribution.

  5. Splatterbottom

    Savvas: “Good work on going back and picking out lies from their past.
    The Right Wing hacks are ALWAYS doing this to their enemies.”

    Maybe they have more material to work with!

    The FTA was always bad for Australia. It is another sad example of the laws being distorted by powerful interests. Our politicians seem incapable of resisting a good duchessing by the Yanks.

  6. Maybe people like Jeremy, if they had a the backing of large Multi-national’s like News Ltd, could also trawl the net for quotes from the past.

  7. “The great, unreported story in globalization is about power, not ideology. It’s about how finance and business regularly, continuously insert their own self-interested deals and exceptions into rules and agreements that are then announced to the public as “free trade.””
    – William Greider

  8. Pingback: And they wonder why Australians rebel | An Onymous Lefty

  9. Pingback: Dark, dark satire from the PM | An Onymous Lefty

  10. Pingback: He has annoyed large media companies. He must be crushed. | Pure Poison

  11. Pingback: Greg Ham’s death should be a reminder that we need to reform the broken parts of the Copyright Act | An Onymous Lefty

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