Saturday, August 14, 2004

Hello again, I have just one thing more to say about politics. I think this Australia-US trade deal is absolutely the definition to me of a Clayton's free trade deal being a trade deal when there isn't actually any trade deal. This may sound abtuse but this is my reasoning. Both the US and Australia are firmly committed to the WTO and their multilateral rules. The WTO rule that has been the most basic principle and the one of total consensus between members as they join is this:- Tariffs must not discriminate between other member countries for instance if Australia has a 20% tariff on textiles coming from the United states, it cannot impose a higher (or lower for that matter) tariff on textiles from Japan. Although these rules are "tested" ie. broken with an attached excuse often, Australia and US especially have followed the WTO rulings when they are made even against their supposed interest. Therefore, since any reduction in two way tariffs between the two countries have to be made with all WTO members (and probably all countries) - there really is no real two way negotiation, it is all invented as if the WTO and their rules didn't exist and that it amounts to a deal for the whole world. Unfortunately, most spectators of the spectacle of these "negotiations" don't realise their being hoodwinked into paying attention to something which is an irrelevant side issue to the WTO trade talks which can actually improve our lot as well as the lot of many poor countries with the only losers those that opt out (that could be a very many countries however). Please comment as this issue is close to my heart.

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