Issues, Constraints and Practical Options
Edited by Sisira Jayasuria, Donald MacLaren and Gary Magee
The initial stimulus for this volume came at a conference two years ago on aspects of the proposed Australia–China Free Trade Agreement. We were involved in the organization of the conference at the time as members of the Asian Economics Centre, University of Melbourne in partnership with the China Development Institute (CDI) in Shenzhen, China, with support from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). It brought together academics, industry leaders, key members of the negotiating teams and political leaders, including the prime minister of Australia. The chance to interact closely with negotiators was particularly instructive for us as academic researchers. We gained some insight into the concrete realities of the negotiating process and an appreciation of the viewpoint of negotiators who have to attempt to reach agreement on a multitude of complex issues within a framework quite tightly constrained by political and institutional factors that determined the scope and range of the Agreement. Academic specialists in international trade have focused most attention on issues related to the desirability and consequences of Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) or, more correctly, Preferential Trading Agreements. The inescapable reality, however, is that most countries have shifted emphasis from World Trade Organization (WTO) multilateralism onto the FTA path. Our discussions and interactions with participants of the FTA negotiation process convinced us that academics could – without prejudice to their positions on the wider issue of multilateralism – make useful contributions on how to improve outcomes of negotiated agreements. We are fortunate that a group...