Monthly Archives: August 2009

Agriculture in the AUSFTA

Presentation to 2009 Fulbright Seminar: AUSFTA @ 5

Over the fold, my pre­sen­ta­tion, this week, to the 2009 Ful­bright Sem­i­nar in Can­ber­ra reflect­ing on the first 5 years expe­ri­ence of the lib­er­al­iza­tion of agri­cul­ture in the Aus­tralia-USA FTA.

The first few slides are charts of cur­rent data show­ing a sur­pris­ing­ly poor per­for­mance of Aus­tralian exports to the USA in the first five years of the imple­men­ta­tion peri­od of the free-trade area. The sec­ond half of the pre­sen­ta­tion com­pares my pre­dic­tions and expec­ta­tions for the agree­ment in 2002 (before the nego­ti­a­tions commenced—a copy of the ear­li­er paper is here) with sub­se­quent expe­ri­ence.

iPhone as a media center

StreamToMe from ProjectsWithLove

Stream video from your Mac to your iPhone over wifi. Just select, tap and play. No need to re-encode. Hook up a TV cable to the iPhone and you have a media cen­ter. Bril­liant (opens in iTunes).

Century trends in Victorian temperatures

Mean maximum temperatures, January, rural Victoria

There are a dozen or so rur­al Vic­to­ri­an weath­er sta­tions, of the 255 list­ed as report­ing max­i­mum tem­per­a­ture data to the Aus­tralian Bureau of Mete­o­rol­o­gy, that have records stretch­ing back to years before 1900. I have found them by skim­ming through the list­ings on this page at the BOM web­site. It has a help­ful graph­ic that dynam­i­cal­ly dis­plays the record length.

I thought it might be inter­est­ing to see the trend of max­i­mum tem­per­a­tures in these rur­al loca­tions. The graph­ic (click the thumb­nail) shows that in eight of these twelve sites, includ­ing one NSW site—Deniliquin, almost on the Vic­to­ri­an border—the tem­per­a­ture trend is neg­a­tive or flat. The trend esti­mate is a sim­ple, lin­ear least-squares trend over the longest peri­od avail­able in each record with 1-sig­ma bands as indi­cat­ed. The idea for this exper­i­ment came from a post at the Car­bon-Sense Coali­tion web­site.

The Emissisions Trading bill madness

The text of my email to all Vic­to­ri­an sen­a­tors at the start of the week in which the bill comes to the Sen­ate.

Eonomic integration of Pacific Islands

It’s not sur­pris­ing to see rhetor­i­cal storm-clouds build­ing over this week’s Pacif­ic Forum meet­ing in Cairns and the prospect of a region­al eco­nom­ic inte­gra­tion agree­ment (PACER Plus) in the Pacif­ic. An agree­ment that entails pro­gres­sive eco­nom­ic reform and more open mar­kets in the Pacif­ic Islands is bound to threat­en entrenched inter­ests.

But this anx­i­ety and pes­simism is mis­placed:

‘Against a back­drop of the enor­mous trade imbal­ance with Aus­tralia and New Zealand, and the lack of a strong base of pro­duc­tiv­i­ty indus­try in the Pacif­ic, it is clear that a new approach is need­ed.’ An Oxfam report showed a stan­dard FTA with Aus­tralia and New Zealand would see Ton­ga lose 19 per­cent of gov­ern­ment income, Van­u­atu 18 per­cent, Kiri­bati 15 per­cent and Samoa 12 per­cent. ” Extract from 3 News (NZ)

I half-agree with that state­ment: a ‘new approach’ is need­ed. But let’s be clear what an ‘enor­mous trade imbal­ance’ means in this case. It means that these tiny economies rely on exter­nal goods and ser­vices (as well as tech­nol­o­gy and spe­cial­ized labor) to enjoy some of the ben­e­fits of 21st cen­tu­ry econ­o­my. This is not only a good thing is it in fact indis­pens­able for the peo­ple of the Pacif­ic. So let’s for­get about all of this ‘neo-colo­nial­ist’ depen­den­cy non­sense and look seri­ous­ly at their real oppor­tu­ni­ties.

The PACER Plus agree­ment offers the Islands an oppor­tu­ni­ty to put their economies onto a tra­jec­to­ry for high­er and more sus­tain­able growth. Soon­er or lat­er they’ll have to go there, but their choic­es will be few­er, and tougher, the longer they delay.