Four Preferential Trade Agreements

One of the direct and important benefits of PTAs is increased trade in goods, which follows a reduction in tariffs and, in some cases, the elimination of non-tariff barriers (in areas such as sanitary, phytosanitary and customs measures). It is difficult to estimate and assess the magnitude of this advantage, as it is based on a number of assumptions and, in many cases, tariff reductions are gradually introduced over several years. The growing tendency of countries to conclude bilateral and mega-regional agreements such as the TPP is leading to an increase in so-called ”trade consolidation”. In short, trade concentration is one country`s offer of market access concessions on a discriminatory basis, in exchange for another country`s acceptance of a number of conditions, including stricter rules on intellectual property protection, as advocated by the United States. In view of the increasing integration of ISDS provisions into international agreements and the growing awareness of the risks and ”systematic gaps” in the process, UNCTAD has identified five reforms of the system. Its proposals included, in the short term, the promotion of alternative dispute resolution, the adaptation of the current system to increase transparency and the limitation of investors` access to ISDS. In the long term, the aim is to completely revise the system by replacing the current system of ad hoc tribunals with the creation of a permanent international investment tribunal. This brief guide provides a brief overview of Australia`s Preferential Trade Agreements (SAAs, often referred to as free trade agreements), particularly what they are, what they cover and whether they have been effective in increasing Australia`s broader economic well-being. A preferential trade area (including preferential trade agreements, PTAs) is a trading bloc that gives preferential access to certain products from participating countries. This requires the reduction of customs duties, but not their total elimination.

A PTA can be established by a trade pact. This is the first step in economic integration. The boundary between a PTA and a free trade area (PTA) can blur, with almost all PTAs having the main objective of becoming a free trade agreement under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. Critics of the policy argue that the relationship between Australia`s trade obligations and immigration requirements lacks transparency and clarity and that there is not always a clear understanding of how Australia`s obligations under asTPs translate into specific exceptions to labour market testing. Representatives of the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade for the review of the Korea-Australia agreement also argued that there was an imbalance in commitments that had the potential to ”contribute to local unemployment” (p. 4). In Australia, these concerns were reiterated in the 2010 Productivity Commission report on Australian trade agreements. In this report, the Commission found that ISDS provisions essentially transfer the political risks associated with foreign direct investment from international companies to elected governments. The report recommended that the Australian government ”avoid accepting provisions in trade agreements that confer on foreign investors additional substantive or procedural rights beyond those already provided for by the Australian legal system” (p. xxxii).

These tariff preferences have given rise to numerous derogations from the principle of normal trade relations, namely that members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) should apply the same duty to imports from other WTO members. [1] The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has argued that common approaches to intellectual property can ”enhance regional economic integration” and promote ”foreign investment, technology transfer and trade between the parties” (pp. 36-37). Some of these agreements, including those with Singapore and Thailand, are consistent with Australia`s obligations under the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). . . .

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