Australian Multilateral Trade Agreements

[10] It is generally accepted that the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930 resulted in retaliation from America`s trading partners by raising U.S. tariffs to “the highest level in U.S. history,” turning a normal economic slowdown into a major global depression: see Richard N Cooper, “Trade Policy and Foreign Policy” in Robert Stern (ed), US Policies in a Changing World Economy (1987) 291, 291-2; Harold Hongju Koh, “The Legal Markets of International Trade: A Perspective on the Proposed United States-Canada Free Trade Agreement” (1987) 12 Yale Journal of International Law 193, 201-2. After the Second World War, the Allies were very busy avoiding a depression like the one that followed the First World War. They wanted to create a regime that encouraged free trade and put an end to protectionism: John Jackson, William Davey and Alan Sykes, The Legal Problem of International Economic Relations (2002) 37-41, 211-16. In fact, it was said that the main international goal of the United States after World War II was to create national security through international free trade: see, in general, Cooper. See also Elizabeth E Kruis, `The United States Trade Embargo on Mexican Tuna: A Necessary Conservationist Measure or a Unfair Trade Barrier? (1992) 14 Loyola of Los Angeles International and Comparative Law Review 903, 910 (to create the GATT). There is broad agreement within Australia that international trade is essential to the country`s long-term prosperity. However, there are differing views on how best to facilitate trade, i.e. whether it should be multilateral or through preferential trade agreements.

[115] Ibid., THE IEA estimates that the agreement will be worth $2.4 billion (AUD 4 billion) in the first 20 years of its existence: CIE, The Australia-Thailand Free Trade Agreement: Economic Efects (2004) 26, November 6, 2004. While Australia is not always as important as free trade agreements, it vigorously pursues its national interests in bilateral, regional and multilateral trade and investment activities, including the OECD, the G20 and APEC. Of course, a free trade agreement with China would be the most fascinating, if not the most difficult to negotiate. More than 3,100 Australian companies are currently exporting to China, and a free trade agreement with emerging power would make it much easier for Australian companies to do business there. As a result, Australian exports of raw materials and energy would be booming and the removal of tariffs on equipment exports would give Australian companies an advantage over their competitors.