The international trading environment over the next decade promises to be difficult. Policies that deliver a more open, flexible and productive Australian economy are the keys to growth, jobs and rising living standards. Domestically, trade and international perspectives need to connect more smoothly with the priorities and strategies for domestic economic and social reform. Internationally, the way seems to be open for a new phase of international trade policy focused on creating new rules for 21st century trade through mega free trade agreements.
Negotiating these rules and using them as ‘benchmarks’ for global rules and disciplines will require closer coordination between trade and foreign policy. It also will place a higher premium on creative and contestable ideas both on policy substance and the groups and coalitions needed to pursue our national interests.
Dr Mike Adams is a former DFAT economist with extensive experience on trade-related aspects of e-commerce, free trade agreements, climate change and agricultural protectionism. He was Australia’s economic counsellor in Beijing from 2000 to 2004 and commercial counsellor in Wellington from 1989 to 1992.