Conference on an Australia-China FTA

High­lights of the day-and-a-half “APEC Cen­ter conference(pdf ver­sion of the con­fer­ence program)”:http://www.apec.org.au/ChinaFTAProgram.pdf on the pro­posed FTA with Chi­na: * Paul Kelly’s com­ments on why the cre­ation of a clos­er rela­tion­ship with Chi­na has already begun and why it helps to cre­ate a desir­able future for Aus­tralia. Kel­ly recalled the icon­ic deci­sion of Australia’s con­ser­v­a­tive gov­ern­ment to offer both the Chi­nese the US Pres­i­dents last year, with­in a week of each oth­er, an hon­our nev­er accord­ed to any Euro­pean or any oth­er Asian head of government—an oppor­tu­ni­ty to address a joint sit­ting of the Par­lia­ment. In a short speech Kel­ly devel­oped a theme that he “described in more depth(pdf file, about 100k)”:http://www.americanaustralian.org/Corporate/pdf/speech_paul_kelly.pdf a cou­ple of years ago on what he calls a ‘nation­al project’ to devel­op a more secure future pros­per­i­ty for Aus­tralia. * For­eign Min­is­ter Alexan­der Downer’s dia­logue with the Chi­nese Ambas­sador (Mme. Fu Ying) on whether a free trade agree­ment with Chi­na will have an eas­i­er pas­sage through Par­lia­ment than the US Free Trade Agree­ment (no, prob­a­bly more dif­fi­cult because Chi­na rep­re­sents a big­ger oppor­tu­ni­ty, a big­ger chal­lenge and there is less sen­ti­men­tal attach­ment) and on the oppor­tu­ni­ties for man­u­fac­tur­ing and ser­vices indus­tries in Chi­na (that should far out­weigh con­cerns about anti-dump­ing pol­i­cy changes) * Andrew Stoler’s dis­sec­tion and com­pre­hen­sive quash­ing of the case for con­tin­u­ing to treat Chi­na as an ‘econ­o­my in tran­si­tion’ in our anti-dump­ing laws (“.. a com­plete­ly uncesses­sary poke in the eye for Chi­na”). Remov­ing Chi­na from this list is the full prac­ti­cal con­se­quence of the grant of ‘mar­ket econ­o­my sta­tus’ that Chi­na has demand­ed as a pre­con­di­tion for nego­ti­a­tion of an FTA * Upbeat pro­jec­tions by Den­ny Mooney (Man­ag­ing Direc­tor, Hold­en) of the GM subsidiary’s sales and oppor­tu­ni­ties in Chi­na. It’s very like­ly that some man­u­fac­tur­ing unionists—such as Doug Cameron (“AMWU”:http://www.amwu.asn.au/default.asp?Action=Category&id=68)—will con­tin­ue their ludi­crous cam­paign against the ‘treach­ery’ of trade agree­ments that mean cuts to our already-low lev­els of man­u­fac­tur­ing pro­tec­tion. It is reas­sur­ing to learn that some of their employ­ers are pre­pared to present the facts with as much con­vic­tion. * Long Yongtu’s diplo­mat­ic, but unmis­tak­able, “cat­a­logue of demands”:http://www.inquit.com/article/313/what-china-wants-in-a-free-trade-agreement for the Agree­ment itself * Clos­ing remarks from Ash­ton Calvert (Sec­re­tary of the Depart­ment of For­eign Affairs and Trade) who said the suc­cess of the pro­posed Agree­ment should be judged by its con­tri­bu­tion to the trade and eco­nom­ic oppor­tu­ni­ties of each side. With one piece of com­mon sense he implic­it­ly dis­count­ed quite a bit of of pon­der­ous talk from secu­ri­ty ana­lysts about build­ing the bilat­er­al rela­tion­ship in order to man­age poten­tial “strate­gic” dilem­mas for Aus­tralia (rela­tion­ships with the USA and Chi­na) in the event of a con­flict across the Straights of Tai­wan.

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