“John Edwards(brief bio of JE)”:http://www.hsbc.com.au/information/executives/ campaigns for his view that Australia will miss out on growth opportunities if it does not win an invitation to join the growing rounds of ‘free trade agreements’ being negotiated in East Asia. I agree. From JKE’s piece in the “Financial Times”:http://search.ft.com/search/article.html?id=040106001008 bq. The creation of an east Asian trade bloc disadvantages the US and Europe compared with a global reduction in barriers, but also presents opportunities. Because it is driven by strategic competition between China and Japan for regional dominance, the reduction in trade barriers may be bigger than would occur for trade reasons alone. It may proceed farther and faster than liberalisation within the now-stalled Doha Round of global trade negotiations, and it may include agriculture. Here’s his contribution—along similar lines—to the “Sydney Morning Herald”:http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=1074. An interesting factoid from the FT article: Edwards reminds us that the East Asian economies are travelling a route already taken by Japan in the 1970s and 1980s. bq. Official purchases of US dollar assets keep the east Asian countries’ exchange rates lower and the US dollar and current account deficit higher than they would otherwise be, at the same time as they add to east Asia’s already vast reserves. In the past five years, the foreign exchange reserves of east Asia including Japan have trebled to a total of more than $1,500bn (”840bn), about two-thirds of the world’s official foreign exchange reserves. Readers interested in current business and official efforts to develop a free trade agreement between Australia and China might like to review the report of the “first meeting(link to China Forum)”:http://www.petergallagher.com.au/chinaforum/Dec03/ of the Business Forum on Economic Relations with China (‘China Forum’ in the menu at the top of this page).