Australia Ploughing Ahead With TPP Negotiations Even Though It Has Never Checked If Any Previous Trade Agreement Was Beneficial

from the who-cares-if-it-was-beneficial,-it-passed,-didn't-it? dept

As Techdirt has noted many times, one of the things that makes it hard to engage sensibly with so-called “trade negotiations” like TPP and TAFTA/TTIP is the secrecy surrounding them. Aside from the odd leak and any crumbs of information that drop from the negotiating table, one of the few things that are made public is the predicted benefit of participating in these agreements. To hear the politicians tell it, the models employed for this purpose prove that a country would be crazy not to sign up to whatever deal they are currently pushing. Given the central role played by these econometric models, you’d think more would be done to refine them and check whether they get it right. Here’s what has happened on this front in Australia, as reported by the Sydney Morning Herald:

On the eve of negotiations expected to finalise a giant trans-Pacific free trade agreement with 11 of Australia’s neighbours, the Department of Foreign Affairs has revealed that none of Australia’s existing agreements has been subjected to an independent analysis to work out whether the claims made for it have stacked up.

That’s rather strange, since Australia signed its Closer Economic Relations agreement with New Zealand 32 years ago and its free trade agreement with the US 11 years ago, so it’s not as if the government there hasn’t had time to collect and analyze the numbers. For the second of those agreements, we do have an independent investigation into how predictions compared with reality:

Ahead of the US Australia Free Trade Agreement the department published modelling conducted by the Centre for International Economics that said it would boost Australia’s gross domestic product by $5.7 billion. A study conducted a decade later by the Australian National University found it had boosted trade not at all.

Given that sobering fact, and research that indicates trade agreements with Mexico and South Korea turned out to be equally disastrous for the US, you have to admire the shamelessness of governments that continue to commission these obviously-flawed models and trumpet their results, only to forget about them completely once they’ve done the job and the relevant agreement is signed and ratified.

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Comments on “Australia Ploughing Ahead With TPP Negotiations Even Though It Has Never Checked If Any Previous Trade Agreement Was Beneficial”

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Anonymous Coward says:

If it is terrible then the current Australian government will love it. They are predictable in that way.

Right along side Cameron’s UK in leading the nosedive into oblivion.

Every day it is something new.

Here is an article from today about how they are failing to provide basic medical care to children in the off-shore concentration camps they are running:

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

They are currently trying to silence whistleblowing doctors on bad asylum seeker treatment with a two year prison term!

Opacity is what’s let them get away with this until now. Transparency is the greatest threat to entrenched special interests. Turn on the light and watch the rats and cockroaches scurry for cover.

Is it any wonder that Wikileaks and Edward Snowden are enemy no. one, and Obama’s been the most intolerant president ever of whistleblowers? I expect this trend to continue regardless of who wins the presidency in the future, but they can’t win if we keep pressing the issue. They can no longer rely on the mainstream media keeping us complacently ignorant. With all the leaking going on, they’re just running around trying to stamp out brushfires endlessly.

Lock on, people. Fire for effect!

CharlieBrown says:

The Current Government In Australia

This has been the worst government we’ve ever had in my memory. They’ve backflipped on nearly every election promise. And all the resulting backlash for doing so has been greeted with them saying they have to do things their way so they will. Australia is going to hell and this government is leading the charge.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: The Current Government In Australia

No different to the Whitlam, Hawke, Menzies, Keating, Rudd, Gilliard, etc governments.

Irrespective of political ideology, they are all superior to us common folk and know what’s better for the nation than the common folk who actually have to face the day by day problems initiated by the ivory tower politicians.

There is less than a handful of sitting members that I would trust to be put in charge of a kiddie cart, let alone in charge of the administration of government.

I’ve said it before there is NO functional difference between the Labour, Liberal, National and Greens. The only difference is the small number of specific individuals that will benefit from the specific details of each party’s policy agenda’s.

As a nation, we appear to be more like the ancient citizens of Rome. We want our bread and games. As long as sports are more important than the structural integrity of our country, then the political parties will just run roughshod over the citizens of this nation. Continuing to try pulling the wool over our eyes, while our nation sinks into the morass of destruction of our technological, industrial, agricultural and intellectual base.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: The Current Government In Australia

I didn’t say anything about corporate donations. Have a closer look at their policies and you will note that they are essentially no different to the other parties. Their policies are still for a small group of specific people. Their policies are not aimed at the majority of Australian citizens. They are functionally no different to any of the other parties.

Also, if we want to base the party on it members, then the local Green member who regularly stands in my electorate is the last person I would like to see in charge of any kiddie cart. A raving mad Communist or Reactionary Right wing crazy would be better, more trust-worthy candidates.

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Australian Govt seems to be in full “fuck the citizens” mode these days.

I think they all are. It’s not an Australian phenomenon. Canada’s got C-51. Britain, their snooper’s charter (et al). The USA, well …

I think it’s more the fact that we’re finally getting the chance to see what they’ve been doing all this time. Gov’ts and their cronies are no longer the only ones allowed on the playing field. We now have tools that can be effective in dragging this !@#$ out into the open and they can’t stop it without going into full tyrant mode.

chilling farts says:

Votes are useless muricans, purge USAID

Look how that NGO and “free market” groups are funded. Inside peru that’t notorious, no TPP opposition existed despite some issues like med patents are hot topics. Instead, repeat the same speech “TPP doesn’t cross furthermore than signed US FTA”

And you muricans, all of this was paid with your f***ing taxes.

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Votes are useless muricans, purge USAID

And you muricans, all of this was paid with your f***ing taxes.

I used to blame the US gov’t as being the cause of all this, but now I see so many other countries lining up to get the same things, maybe the US has just been their point man, or water carrier.

I’m not even sure you can blame some shadowy clique (Gnomes of Zurich, Illuminati, Bankster cartel, …) pushing an agenda. This’s just always been the way it’s been done, but now we’re getting to see how the sausages are made.

Adam (profile) says:


“… It Has Never Checked If Any Previous Trade Agreement Was Beneficial.”

Glyn is missing the point here. Beneficial to whom? This is not about the general population or economy of Australia, it’s about legacies for politicians.

And c’mon now; name any country anywhere that ever checks whether any new law, agreement or regulation actually produces the intended result.

Anonymous Coward says:

so why is there never any serious, independent studies of the benefits (to be) gained by the people who do all the shouting in favor of the agreements? i fail to see why anyone would go headlong into recommending anything unless it was beneficial to them, regardless of the value (or not, as the case may be) to the countries concerned!

Kronomex (profile) says:

Our puppet government here aren’t about to do anything that will upset their corporate masters and the US gubbmint. They are too busy rewriting reality as we know it and removing rights, democracy, and freedoms from the dictionary and people of Australia. Worst part of it is that I can foresee the Corporate Puppet Party, sorry, LNP, getting in again at the next election albeit with a reduced margin. The opposition is a joke, they’re just LNP Lite.

LNP – Loads of New Payola.

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