Few Australian Businesses Use Or Know About Trade Agreements: So Why Make Big Concessions To Sign Up To TPP?

from the serious-question dept

Techdirt recently looked at the important leak of the investment chapter from the TPP trade agreement, noting how bad it was, particularly as far as the corporate sovereignty provisions are concerned. One obvious question this raises is: will the supposed benefits of TPP outweigh these kind of serious problems? Obviously, we won't be able to make even a provisional assessment until we have the full and final text, but what we can do is look at whether past trade agreements have been worth it. Measuring that objectively is not easy, but one way of gauging their value is to look at the extent to which businesses -- the intended beneficiaries of trade agreements -- actually use them. There's not much data to go on here, but this report in the Sydney Morning Herald is pretty unequivocal:

The annual Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry trade survey shows the least understood free trade agreement is the Korea-Australia FTA, followed by the Australia-Chile FTA. The most understood agreements are the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand FTA (understood by 18 per cent of those surveyed) and the Australia-United States one (understood by 17 per cent). The results have dropped by about 7 percentage points since the 2014 survey, suggesting fewer Australian businesses understand the agreements than previously.
Note that this survey comes from a trade organization, and so is unlikely to be biased against such agreements. Actual usage by Australian businesses was equally unimpressive:
Only 13 per cent of small businesses found Australia's FTA with New Zealand "really useful". Almost 23 per cent of big businesses found it useful. About 15 per cent of small businesses found the free trade agreement with the US useful and 22 per cent of big businesses did.
Of course, this is only one survey, and in one country. But you'd think that all governments contemplating signing up to global trade agreements like TPP and TAFTA/TTIP would have done plenty of this kind research before committing themselves. The fact that they haven't might almost lead a cynic to suspect that they were prepared to sign up whether or not it was a good thing for their nation, just so they could claim a political "win".

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Mar 2015 @ 1:57am

    'just so they could claim a political "win"'

    and get the new house, the yacht, get the kids into the best collage and have three holidays a year, each one lasting 4 months!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    HT (profile), 31 Mar 2015 @ 4:48am

    As someone from Australia

    I can assure you our Government doesn't care about the welfare of its citizens.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      eye sea ewe, 31 Mar 2015 @ 6:23am

      Re: As someone from Australia

      Let's correct that, none of the political parties care about the welfare of its citizens. If they did, the members of parliament would be going back to their individual electorates and get significant feedback from their respective constituents about these matters instead of just following the party line as they do.

      The current members of parliament have seriously forgotten that they represent their electorate first and their party second.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Morgan Wick, 31 Mar 2015 @ 6:26pm

        Re: Re: As someone from Australia

        In case you thought American government was uniquely dysfunctional and corporate-run...

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 31 Mar 2015 @ 9:02pm

        Re: Re: As someone from Australia

        As in the USA our politicians only represent those who pay for the right to be represented, all others can rot in hell.

        Even our Treasurer Joe Hockey, has his own private slush fund financed by his personal local Chamber of Commerce set up to benefit the Lying Nasty Party & himself. Even his wife's bank helps out & it's based overseas. When it made front page news in Sydney he got upset & took the newspaper to court claiming $1 million in damages to his reputation.

        Sadly for Hockey, after failing to get last year's 'rich man's' budget through & lying to the Australian population on the non existant financial crisis his reputation is already round the S-bend & floating with the blind mullets in the sewage pond.

        Nothing's too shonky for this lot of Born-to-Rule Cabinet Ministers.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Mar 2015 @ 9:33am

    All aboard the Titanic!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Thrudd, 31 Mar 2015 @ 10:42am

    Not the Titanic, more like the Lusitania.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Mar 2015 @ 2:44pm

    Few Australian Businesses Use Or Know About Trade Agreements: So Why Make Big Concessions To Sign Up To TPP?

    Because it is the AMERICAN way!!!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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