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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