It is important that Australia enjoys the same access to markets, such as China, Japan and South Korea, as is enjoyed by other countries which already have FTAs in place with those three economies – so it is important that FTAs are concluded with them as quickly as possible.
The real challenge for Australia in negotiating free trade agreements is to gain access for our exporters to the other markets, at least commensurate to the access that we have already given them to the Australian market.
Based on sound economic theory, Australia embarked on a comprehensive program of opening up its marketplace to the rest of the world about four decades ago. The challenge associated with this is that what happens in the real world, in practice is quite often different to what is envisaged in theory.
It is neither unusual nor unreasonable for governments to be sensitive about shoring up industries they regard as critical to their own economies and communities. This is quite often the case with agricultural products throughout Asia and it is now the basis for ongoing debate in Australia in respect of our own manufacturing industry.
A crucial element of all of Australia’s trading relationships must be the recognition and protection of intellectual property, so that country-of-origin branding is regulated and able to provide a framework within which Australian exporters can benefit from this country’s very strong nation brand.