Brief New Year round-up

The first day of 2005 brings * The “entry into force:”: of the Aus­tralia-US free trade agree­ment. This may be the last you’ll hear of this Agree­ment for a while as media atten­tion turns to the FTA with Chi­na. The con­sumer won’t see any impacts any­time soon; some agri­cul­ture indus­tries will make small com­pet­i­tive gains in the US mar­ket, but the greater impacts, if they mate­ri­al­ize, will come in bet­ter ser­vices indus­try per­for­mance, access to gov­ern­ment pro­cure­ment oppor­tu­ni­ties and clos­er inte­gra­tion impacts includ­ing new invest­ment activ­i­ty
* 100 (or so) days until John Howard and Wen Jiabao announce, in Bei­jing, the start to nego­ti­a­tions on a bilat­er­al FTA
* The end of the thir­ty-year Mul­ti-Fiber Arrange­ment, with the con­ver­sion of the remain­ing tex­tile and gar­ment import quo­tas in the Unit­ed States, EU and Cana­da into (some­times high) tar­iff bar­ri­ers. There is a great deal of con­fu­sion and con­cern about the com­mer­cial impacts both in “devel­op­ing coun­try industries”:,7369,1381817,00.html and in the “restrict­ing countries”: Chi­na has “clev­er­ly decided”: to tax some of the wind­fall gains made by its own tex­tile exporters while some affect­ed Asian region com­peti­tors, real­iz­ing that Chi­na can’t steal every mar­ket have start­ed to refine or re-direct their offers (includ­ing to Chi­na) in order to sur­vive in the “new environment”:
* The start of the year that was sup­posed to bring the end of the Doha round of WTO nego­ti­a­tions. Don’t hold your breath, but (fear­less pre­dic­tion) be ready for some supris­ing­ly swift progress near the end of the year

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