THE UNITED STATES-AUSTRALIA-FREE TRADE AGREEMENT. (FTA)
The following is a simplified break-down of the FTA [ as signed by the US trade commissioner Washington DC ] adding further evidence to how Australia has been betrayed by the liberal-National Coalition and the Australian Labor Party (ALP).
On Thursday June 24, 2004 more than 50% of Labor's lower House member crossed the floor of parliament to support the Howard-Anderson Coalition's Free Trade Agreement Bill with the U.S. Mark Latham's federal opposition was supported publicly by his six labor State Premiers, to pass the FTA in the lower house.
The veiled secrecy by the Federal Minister for Trade Mark Vaile and his colleagues in tandem with the Latham Labor opposition's failure to, inform the Australian public what concessions were conceded to the U.S. in exchange for a FTA is, and act of total contempt against, the constituents who elected them to democratically represent us, the Australian people.
We going to evaluate and simplify the true impact of the concessions conceded to the U.S. for a FTA and prove beyond reasonable doubt that the two major political parties (Liberal-National and Labor) have covertly betrayed their fellow Australians.
Office of the United States Trade Representative Washington, DC
U.S. - Australia Free Trade Agreement, brief summary of the agreement
(1) An FTA for America's Manufacturing Sector: More that 99 percent of U.S. manufactured exports to Australia will become duty-free immediately upon entry into force of the Agreement. This is the most significant immediate reduction of industrial tariffs ever achieved in a U.S. FTA, and will provide benefits for America's manufacturing workers and companies; U.S. manufactures estimate that the elimination of tariffs could results in $2 billion per year in increased U.S. exports of manufactured goods. There will be significant benefits for such key U.S. Manufacturing sectors as autos and auto parts; chemicals, plastics and soda ash; information technology products; electrical equipment and appliances; non-electrical machinery; fabricated metal products; construction equipment; paper and wood products; furniture and fixtures; and medical and scientific equipment.
Fact: Australia and U.S. Manufacturing Tariffs are already very low, the exception in a few key areas where Tariffs do exist in the U.S., many will remain.
We will be barred from selling our world class, high performance and competitive fast ferries to the U.S. The U.S. gets 99% access to our markets no questions asked. The U.S. believe their manufacturers will benefit to the tune of 2 Billon dollars American per year under the FTA.
Phasing out of Tariffs on manufacturing will be zero by 2015. In lieu of Tariffs, we will have to accept complex "Rules of Origin." This means, that the goods we export must contain a certain percentage level of "Australian Made" content to qualify for Tariff reductions in foreign markets.
That means, our textile producers who import their yarn are unlikely to qualify for any concessions at all. Singapore believed it was getting a good deal under it's Free Trade Deal with the U.S. only to discover the conditions under the "Rule of Origin" so difficult to meet they just pay the Tariff, instead of wasting their time applying for Tariff reductions.
(2) New opportunities for U.S. Farmers: All U.S. agricultural exports to Australia, totaling more that $400 million, will receive immediate duty-free access. Key agricultural products that will benefit from immediate tariff elimination include processed foods, soups and bakery products, fruit and vegetable juices, dried plums, potatoes, almonds, tomatoes, cherries, raisins, olives, fresh grapes, sweet corn, frozen strawberries, and walnuts. Food inspection procedures that have posed barriers in the past will be addressed, benefiting sectors such as pork, citrus, apples and stone fruit.
Fact: With the immediate duty free access on U.S. agricultural exports to Australia, this will allow them to flood our shores with agricultural goods that will conflict with our home grown products.
Under the agreement, we will allow U.S. Trade Delegates to sit on the board that set our standards of Quarantine. This will expose our Quarantine Regulators to added pressure to compromise science based risk assessment, placing animal, plant and human health at risk.
Our high standards of quarantine have already been impinged by the U.S. last year (2003) when our regulators lowered the bar by allowing the U.S. to import Californian table grapes which are infested with diseases that could ruin not only our grape and wine industry, but also our mango and avocado orchards.
An added problem is the decontamination of the grapes with Methyl Bromide, a known carcinogen that is one of the most toxic chemicals across the Universe, which will be banned in the U.S. from next year, expect for fumigating trade produce.
Owing to continual pressure from the U.S. we have relaxed our quarantine protocols to allow in pest and disease affected pork, poultry, citrus and stone-fruit, and are proposing to do the same with apples, bananas and pears.
The Howard Government is jumping with joy when espousing the new market access gained, but overlook that under the deal our avocado producers will be allowed to export to the U.S. for the first time. They fail to clarify the amount of avocados we can sell during our peak season is strictly limited.
In Australia we have no such barriers. This is neither Free or Fair.
(3) Sensitive to Agricultural Concerns: The FTA is sensitive to concerns that have been expressed by Congress and U.S. beef and dairy farmers, and the agreement uses tariff-rates quotas (TRQ) to respond to these concerns while increasing trade. Beef: U.S. above-quota duties will be phased out over an 18 year period, and initial increased imports from Australia under the TRQ quota will amount to about 0.17% of annual U.S. beef production, and 1.6% of annual U.S. beef imports. The quota increases will take affect when U.S. beef exports return to their 2003 (pre-BSE) levels, or three years after effective date of the agreement, whichever comes first. Safeguards will be available, including a price-based safe guard after the transition period. Dairy: There will be no change in the U.S. MFN above-quota tariff on dairy products subject to quotas, and initial increases in imports from Australia under the TRQ quota will amount to about 0.17% of the value annual U.S. dairy production, and about 2% of the value of total U.S. dairy imports.
Fact: Some Tariffs might come down - but not for our most competitive exports. Tariffs remain in place for key sectors like wool (10 yrs) wine (11 yrs), steel, as well as beef, dairy, horticulture and cotton (18 yrs).
If our exports to the U.S. rise "too quickly" or our process are too competitive against the exchange rate, the U.S. can Slap Their Tariffs Back On, - No Questions Asked.
If those in the aforementioned industries believe they will financially benefit from the FTA, then all we can say is "they must believe in the "Tooth Fairy."
(4) Access to Services and Investment: Australia will accord substantial market access across its entire services regime, offering access in sectors such as telecommunications, express delivery, computer and related services, tourism, energy, construction and engineering, financial services, insurance, audio / visual and entertainment, professional, environmental, education and training, and other services sectors. In broadcasting and audiovisual services, the FTA contains important and unprecedented provisions to improve market access for U.S. films and television programs over a variety of media including cable, satellite, and the internet. Most U.S. investments would be exempted from screening by the Australian Foreign Investment Review Board.
Fact: Since the Howard Coalition gave the nod for the FTA with the U.S. we have not heard one word about the full sale of Telstra which 6 months ago was the Government's number one project. Let's reiterate this part of the FTA.
Australia will accord substantial market access across its entire services regime, offering access in sectors such as (we will deal with a few) Telecommunications, Energy and Financial Services.
Would you be confident that cost and services would remain affordable to the Australia community if the U.S. Multi-Nationals were to purchase 100% of the following service sectors; Telstra, Energy, (Electricity, Gas or Water) or any, or all of our major banks? Remember we've agreed to most U.S. investments would be exempted from screening by the Australian Foreign Investment Review Board.
This means that 90% plus of all Australian Companies, could be purchased without screening.
(5) Recognizing the Importance of innovative Pharmaceuticals: The U.S. and Australia note the importance of outgoing research and development; of recognizing and appropriately valuing the therapeutic benefit of innovative drugs; and of transparent, expeditious, and accountable procedures. In implementing these principles, Australia will make a number of improvements in its Pharmaceuticals Benefits Scheme (PBS) procedures that will enhance transparency and accountability in the operation of the PBS, including establishment of an independent process to review determinations of product listings. The FTA establishes a Medicines Working Group to further promote the agreement's public health principles through an outgoing dialogue between the united States and Australia. In addition, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Australia Therapeutic Goods Administration will work together to make innovative medical products available more quickly.
Fact: Bull-Dust! Australia's PBS is recognized as the "Worlds Best" because of it's affordability. U.S. State Government's have been attempting for more than 10 years to implement their own PBS, but U.S. Pharmaceutical companies keep taking them to court to prevent this as, it would undermine their massive profits. U.S. Drug companies want to further their greedy ambition for huge profits by destroying our PBS, and the Australian Pharmaceutical Industry.
Under the agreement our Government have given the drug companies what they least deserve, increased protection against generic producers, a new body to sell the "goodness" of over - priced U.S. drugs to Australians (the Medicines Working Group), and an independent appeals process to challenge the listing decisions of the PBAC, all of which will increase the price by 1.5 Billion dollars.
(6) Open and Fair Government Procurement: U.S. suppliers are granted non-discriminatory rights to bid on contracts from 80 Australia central government entities, including key ministries and government enterprises. These commitments are particularly significant and commercially important, because Australia is one of the only developed countries that is not a party to the WTO Agreement on Government Procurement. Both countries that is not a party to the WTO Agreement on Government Procurement. Both countries are also committed to extending coverage of the agreement to sub-central entities, and will be working with their respective states to refine the extent of the coverage in the next few weeks. Australia will eliminate its central government industry development programs, under which suppliers have had to provide various types of offsets as a condition of their contracts.
Fact: Our access to the U.S. Procurement Market will be severely limited by a number of barriers and discriminatory policies. The U.S. Government has retained the right to give preference to it's "small" firms, which are not small at all - employing up to 1,500 people.
How many Australian companies applying for procurement contracts in the U.S. will employ more than 1,500 people? We will also be competing with hundreds of much larger U.S. firms in our own market - firms that the U.S. Government supports with what it calls "Aggressive Advocacy."
We can't win and the government is aware of it. We did not sign the W.T.O. Government Procurement Agreement (WTO GPA) because the Government's own report on the matter concluded that access to the U.S. Market would remain limited by domestic regulations.
So why has the government suddenly changed its tune? If competition in government Procurement is so good, why don't we just sign the WTO GPA?
(7) A Trade Agreement for the Digital Age: U.S. and Australian authors, performers, inventors, and other producers of creative material will benefit from the higher and extended standards the FTA requires for protecting intellectual property rights such as copyrights, patents, trademarks, and trade secrets and enhanced means for enforcing those rights. The agreement calls for each government to adopt state-of-the-art protection for digital products such as software, music, text, and videos, and encourages adoption of measures to promote trade through electronic commerce.
Fact: Australia will have a waiver from U.S. programs favoring U.S. firms and products.
While 28 countries also have such a waiver, in practice. "Buy American Laws," continue to influence the purchasing strategies of many U.S. Agencies. The vast purchasing budget of the homeland security agency is being used to acquire American produced goods, without competitive bidding. And a Law currently before the U.S. congress will make it difficult for waivers to be granted.
The "Buy American Improvement Act of 2004," is aimed at restricting waivers of the Buy American Law to prevent foreign firms gaining procurement contracts, and thus protect U.S. companies.
More worryingly, Australia have agreed to scrap our "industry Development Programs." These allow us to set conditions in return for granting procurement contracts to foreign suppliers in our own market.
Such offset programs produce Net Benefits for Australian Industry and employment, i.e. by stipulating that suppliers source local inputs, employ a certain percentage of Australians, transfer technology, or similar actions. All this is to disappear.
In particular, our young information and Communications Technology Industry, which has made important strides under the mandated component of the procurement program, can expect to lose out to the tactics of a well subsidised Microsoft.
So while the U.S. can keep and strengthen it's "Buy American" Act under the deal, and continue to subsidise its major exporters, we have agreed to abandon our development programs. (The so-called "Microsoft Clause").
(8) Strong Protections for Worker Rights and the Environment: Ensures effective enforcement of labor and environment laws and establishes labor and environmental cooperative mechanisms.
Fact: The FTA is a continuation of the "Lima Declaration"
The final part of the jigsaw puzzle to be fully implemented is the agreement on Trade in Services (Gats). In fact the Carr Labor Government had the "cart before the horse" in tandem with the Howard - Anderson Coalition when they permitted south African Workers to be utilised on a Carr Government project the "Construction of the Lake Cargelligo Water Tower," as sweet labourers for slave wages.
(9) Increased Transparency: The agreement's dispute settlement mechanisms call for open public hearings, public access to documents, and the opportunity for third parties to submit views. Transparency in customs operations will aid express delivery shipments and will require open and public processes for customs rulings and administration.
Fact: Transparency? Neither the Howard-Anderson Coalition, or the Opposition Political Parties, have taken time out to explain what the benefits are for a FTA to the Australian Community. In this a Federal Election year the Government would be jumping up and down espousing the great financial benefits the FTA would be to Australia, instead we are greeted with total silence about the deal.
The U.S. says transparency in customers operations will aid express delivery shipments and will require open and public processes for Customs rulings and administration.
Whilst in Australia our Customs Service is almost non0existent in Law Enforcement and Border Control. In fact our Customs Officers are more qualified in clerical duties in lieu of Law Enforcement, and this is evident when customs over-all seizures of illegally imported contraband does not come from good detection work, but from tip-offs.
For the more detailed complete overview by the experts :- Read Publication by allen and Unwin. Inquiries Ph 02/84250100
‘How to Kill a Country’ Written by Professors Linda Weiss/Elizabeth Thurbon /John Mathews – Website www.australianinterest.com