Australia has entered into a number of bilateral and regional trade agreements and is currently negotiating several more.
While trade agreements can provide modest benefits for Australia larger gains are possible according to a Draft Research Report released by the Productivity Commission on 16 July 2010.
The Commission found that Australia's trade agreements to date have resulted in bilateral tariff reductions for goods trade and this is likely to have encouraged trade in goods between partner countries. However, there is limited evidence thus far in relation to the effect on trade in services and investment.
Commenting on existing agreements Commissioner Patricia Scott said that, "Great emphasis has been placed on the potential benefits of preferential agreements in advance of negotiating them. The Commission has found that expectations of the benefits have been optimistic".
The Commission is seeking further evidence from businesses regarding the effects of Australia's trade agreements on their operations and invites comments.
Les Pickett is Ambassador for Tomorrow’s Company. Tomorrow’s Company is a UK based business led international think tank. Our vision is to create a business future that makes equal sense to staff, shareholders and society.