The benefits of Australia`s bilateral and regional trade agreements have been oversold and their development processes should be improved, according to a study released today by the Productivity Commission. The Commission has found that, while some benefits of preferential agreements are likely to be beneficial, unilateral reforms and non-discriminatory trade liberalization have greater benefits. The study also found that certain provisions contained in recent preferential trade agreements in Australia – including investor-state dispute settlement mechanisms, procurement requirements, intellectual property protection and provisions that traditionally affect the province of domestic policy – could entail significant costs or risks. The Commission also reaffirmed that national economic reforms have relatively significant economic benefits and should not be delayed in order to maintain a “bargaining s supply” for the negotiation of trade agreements. While tariff preferences in trade agreements may benefit certain industrial sectors, the Commission has found little evidence that recent bilateral agreements have brought considerable trade benefits to Australia. The main factors influencing transaction decisions in other countries are likely to be outside the scope of these agreements. The study concluded that while preferential trade agreements could increase national income, the net effect is likely to be modest. Free trade agreements provide a mechanism to facilitate trade in goods. Each agreement contains information and links to legislation, guidelines and opinions on rules of origin and access to preferential rates. To ensure that options other than trade agreements are properly considered and that other agreements are justified, the study recommended that the government change your business development processes. Under the Commission`s proposals, the government would conduct an annual review of trade policy to better identify priorities, increase the value of consultation and consider trade policy in a broader context.
And if there is an interest in concluding a trade agreement with certain countries, economic assessments should be based on realistic scenarios, with each modelling overseen by an independent body. Final assessments to the government should be based on the negotiated text of the agreement. Australia is currently participating in multilateral negotiations on the PACER plus agreement with New Zealand and 14 Pacific Island States, the Comprehensive Regional Economic Partnership (RCEP) and the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA). It also negotiates bilateral trade agreements with India and Indonesia and will begin talks with Hong Kong and Taiwan before the end of the year and with the EU next year. Bilateral social security agreements are international agreements concluded by Australia with certain countries. These agreements address the issue of “double superannuation coverage” that occurs when you work temporarily for your Australian employer abroad and have to pay super premiums (or equivalent contributions) in Australia and the country where you work. Australia presented trade initiatives or trade agreements with countries or groups of countries in the table below.