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Havachat: Free, fair or foolish? The Australian-US FTA - Day 3

By Doug Cameron and Alan Oxley - posted Wednesday, 28 May 2003

Havachats are week-long email dialogues between two prominent advocates on an issue of the day. To vote on the issue and make your view count, click here.

Day 1 . 2 . 3 . 4 . 5.

Doug goes first. Alan responds.


From: Doug Cameron
Sent: Tuesday, May 27, 2003 13:22
To: Alan Oxley
Subject: Accountable negotiations

Dear Alan,

It seems to me that your position is a weakening as each day passes! We now have Alan Wood, Economics editor of The Australian making the following observation on the proposed USFTA:

The one crucial test is whether it will enhance or damage what Vaile himself calls a very fragile global, regional and domestic political consensus for free markets and liberalised trade. An effective way of deciding that would be to offer the final agreement, if there is one, to the Productivity Commission or perhaps the World Trade Organisation, for independent assessment.

The reason there is a fragile consensus on free markets and liberalised trade is the secrecy, vested interests and predominance of corporate rights over social and community rights under the current free-trade regime.

I welcome the concept of an independent assessment of the proposed USFTA; however in the AMWU submission to DFAT we argue that the final assessment should be that of the Australian Parliament.

We also argue for a process of accountability, openness and transparency prior to and during the negotiating process. It is my view that the secrecy and exclusion of union and other civil society representatives on issues such as the USFTA is undemocratic and unacceptable.


The AMWU has proposed a three-stage approach backed by legislation.

Stage One

Both Houses of Parliament should determine whether to grant negotiating authority for a trade treaty.

Stage Two

Studies should be undertaken to determine the costs and benefits of any proposal that may be negotiated including:

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About the Authors

Doug Cameron is National Secretary of the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union.

Alan Oxley is the former ambassador to the General Agreement on Trades and Tariffs and Chairman of the Australian APEC Studies Centre.

Other articles by these Authors

All articles by Doug Cameron
All articles by Alan Oxley
Related Links
Australian Manufacturing Workers Union
Australia-US Trade Agreement home page
Dept of Foreign Affairs and Trade resources
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