“The potential for anti-trade sentiment is the biggest threat to Australia’s historical support of Free Trade and we are encouraged that the Federal Opposition is joining the conversation on this issue,” Ai Group Chief Executive, Innes Willox said today.

“While Ai Group has long argued that Free Trade Agreements are not a zero sum game, there will be winners and losers and we need to develop a joint response to that reality, not simply focussing on the positive stories. There are a number of levers available to us to address this risk, such as SME capacity building programs to increase exports, improving access to training and skill development, and increasing industry engagement in FTA negotiations.

“Labor’s suggestion of ten-year independent reviews of FTAs deserves further investigation but there is no doubt that the longer-term impacts of FTAs should be comprehensively measured and better understood.

“Equally, we need to better understand why our companies are continuing to find barriers to doing business in Asia and identify effective solutions.

“Many of our negotiating partner countries give much greater access to business and business organisations to FTA negotiating text. We have been told that as many as 600 US industry representatives had access to part of the TPP text. We would like to see a similar program of ‘cleared advisors’ in Australia having similar levels of access,” Mr Willox said.

Source: AiG

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