February 27, 2019: Rich countries including Australia decided at the recent World Economic Forum meeting at Davos to push for an E-Commerce Agreement in the World Trade Organisation. Their formula is for ‘free digital trade’, for rules that suit global digital corporations – notably Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Apple. This push has been strongly criticised by consumer and civil society groups.
World Trade Organisation
February 13, 2019: Chakravarthi Raghavan, an esteemed author of several books on the WTO, and Jomo Kwame Sundaram, former United Nations Assistant Secretary General for Economic Development, have issued a sharp warning to developing countries about the e-commerce initiative recently launched at Davos by a group of rich country governments, including Australia.
February 10, 2019: AFTINET's submission to the JSCOT Inquiry on Australia joining the WTO Government Procurement Agreement argues that the government has not presented any independent assessment of the costs and benefits of Australia joining the agreement, that would justify Australia's accession.
February 5, 2019: Chinese and US trade negotiators meet in Washington again next week to try to reach an agreement to avoid a massively escalated tariff war from March 1. Without a deal, US punitive tariffs on US$200 billion of Chinese imports will go up from 10 per cent to 25 per cent, and China is likely to respond in kind. The US is blocking appointments to the World Trade Organisation appeals body, and threatening to leave the 164-member WTO.
January 29, 2019: The elite business and government World Economic Forum meeting last week was a perfect setting for Australia and 70 other mostly industrialised country governments to announce exclusive plans for an e-commerce trade deal that was rejected after fierce debate by the majority of the 164 WTO members who met in Argentina in December.
January 22, 2019: The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union President Andrew Dettmer yesterday welcomed the announcement of an ALP national procurement policy that will apply to Commonwealth government purchasing of $50 billion per year. He said it would create more local manufacturing jobs and training in regional Australia, and congratulated union members who campaigned for the policy.
11 October 2018: There was a reported meeting this week in Beijing between Chinese and European Union trade officials about changes to the World Trade Organisation (“WTO”). We’re still waiting to hear outcomes of the meeting, which follows change proposals and continued negotiations between WTO members.
June 1, 2018: President Trump last month imposed tariffs on steel and aluminium imports from China and Japan, and has now extended these to Canada, Mexico and the EU. The pretext for these actions is that the aluminium and steel industries are essential to US national security. The US now faces tariff retaliation from all of these countries, as well as legal action through the World Trade Organisation, which is not likely to accept the national security argument.