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.