Saturday 24 Oct 2020 | 16:49 | SYDNEY
Saturday 24 Oct 2020 | 16:49 | SYDNEY

Trade as a foreign policy tool


Mark Thirlwell

10 February 2010 15:06

Adrian Rollins has a feature article in today's AFR (behind the paywall) looking at the Australia-US free trade agreement (AUSFTA) and Australia's decision to jump on board the Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) bandwagon. He concludes by noting a particular problem with high-profile PTA negotiations: they are subject to a kind of lock-in that can make it very difficult to walk away even from a bad deal. I've discussed this problem on The Interpreter before. 

One quibble with the piece: it argues that the AUSFTA marked a 'clear break with the strict separation of trade and foreign policy which had been adopted by successive Australian governments over several decades'. Well, no, not quite. 

Sure, the shift to FTAs did mark a decisive change in the nature of Australia's trade policy. But bringing to an end a complete separation of trade and foreign policy? Not so much. It's pretty clear that both foreign and trade policy were involved in a range of past decisions, including for example the establishment of the Australia-New Zealand CER, past participation in economic and trade sanctions, and the formation of APEC.

Photo by Flickr user andrevanb, used under a Creative Commons license.