AU-US trade deal: What businesses need to know

There are a number of key considerations businesses need to be aware of when it comes to Australia's trade deal with the US, says Tim Harcourt, J.W.Nevile Fellow in Economics at UNSW Business School

So there's been a lot of talk of trade deals emanating from the United States. President Donald Trump got elected in 2016, arguing that he would rip up most of the trade deals the United States had made because there are bad deals and make better ones himself. He's talked now about Australia in that regards, and Australia is regarded reasonably favourably. 

There are two warnings, I think, with respect to these trade deals. One is, Australia is always better off with an open system run in a multilateral way through the World Trade Organization (WTO) and through regional partnerships. A world where China, America and the EU dominate trade is not a good one for Australia, as a small open economy and bilateral deals (managed trade) are not always good for Australia. 

For instance, Donald Trump was talking about having managed trade with China, which would basically mean that the US would get its agricultural exports into China ahead of Australia. That could actually be very bad for us. So when it comes to the US and China, we don't want it to go badly, because that means a trade war where everyone loses. We don't want it to go too well, because that could shut out Australian exporters. 

For us, the US is still a very important market, in terms of innovation, in terms of investment, in terms of technology, in terms of education, but ultimately an international multilateral based trading system is better for us, rather than an America priced deal – deals of having managed trade route around the world. So we hope that there'll be peace in our time in terms of trade, and it will be a multilateral system. 

For the most part, while we have differences with democratic institutions, we will probably see a President Joe Biden run a trading system more favourable to a multilateral system than the administration of Donald Trump. If Joe Biden wins the election, Democratic administrations in modern times can have protectionist impulses. 

But compared to the isolationism and populism of Trump, they're probably more favourable to a multilateral system, certainly support more favourable conditions to Australia. I don't think the bilateral relationship would change very much. 

But ultimately, you'd probably have a more stable international economic system and a more stable trading system which would ultimately benefit Australia.


You are free to republish this article both online and in print. We ask that you follow some simple guidelines.

Please do not edit the piece, ensure that you attribute the author, their institute, and mention that the article was originally published on Business Think.

By copying the HTML below, you will be adhering to all our guidelines.

Press Ctrl-C to copy