Expresses Disappointment over Key Provisions
Washington, DC – While expressing concern over certain provisions, NFTC officials praised the conclusion of the U.S.-Australia Free Trade Agreement, agreed upon by U.S. and Australia negotiators this weekend, as a landmark trade agreement between two longtime allies.
“This is an important milestone for trade between developed nations,” said Bill Reinsch, president of the National Foreign Trade Council, noting that the agreement is the first since 1988 between the United States and a developed country. “The immediate cut in industrial tariffs is unmatched in any FTA, opening up major new trade opportunities for both the United States and Australia. While we want to review closely the final text of the agreement, and are troubled by a few key provisions, such as the lack of liberalization of the U.S. sugar market and the failure to include investor-state arbitration, we commend the negotiators for their diligence in seeing the U.S.-Australia FTA through until the end,” stated Reinsch.
According to Reinsch, “NFTC members are particularly pleased with the immediate elimination of industrial tariffs on the more than 99% of U.S. manufactured goods exports to Australia, as well as the range of other high standard provisions in the agreement, including intellectual property rights. One area of significant disappointment for some of our members is the agreement’s lack of comprehensiveness in eliminating agricultural barriers to trade, especially for sugar. Not only is reform of the U.S. sugar program long overdue, this provision may call into question our credibility in the WTO talks.” Reinsch added, “It is a bad precedent that other sectors in the United States and in other countries will exploit to the disadvantage of international trade liberalization and the broader U.S. national economic interest.”
The other major concern of several NFTC members is the failure to include an investor-state arbitration mechanism, which puts US investors at a distinct disadvantage, particularly compared to Australia’s other FTA partners. “The exclusion of investor-state arbitration leaves U.S. investors without a means to enforce their rights under the agreement and sends a signal to future negotiating partners that the United States will not insist on high standards of investor protection,” stated Reinsch.
“Although we look forward to examining the final text once it becomes public, our preliminary assessment is that the FTA makes important strides in promoting better trade practices and strengthening the economic and trade relationship between the United States and Australia,” concluded Reinsch.
The National Foreign Trade Council is a leading business organization advocating an open, rules-based global trading system. Founded in 1914 by a broad-based group of American companies, the NFTC now serves 300 member companies through its offices in