19 JULY 2010: A draft research report by the Australian government's independent Productivity Commission has suggested that the national income flowing from future bilateral and regional trade agreements 'is likely to be modest'.
The report, released online last Friday, suggests that the Commission has received little evidence from Australian business to show that preferential agreements of this sort have provided substantial commercial benefits, and that current processes for assessing and prioritising such agreements "lack transparency and tend to oversell the likely benefits". Among its recommendations, it suggests Australia continue to pursue progress in the Doha Round, while carrying out full and public assessments of proposed agreements after negotiations have concluded, and that a cautious approach be taken to provisions on IP, investor-state dispute settlement, labour standards and cultural matters.
The government is expected to receive the Commission's final report in November 2010. The draft, meanwhile, can be read here.