FTA Statement on ASEAN-Australia/New Zealand Free Trade Agreement

Cure the trade imbalances with Australia-New Zealand!
No to a Free Trade Agreement with Australia-NZ!

Angel Mendoza, FTA Convenor for Labor

In line with an ASEAN framework agreement, the Philippines is holding talks with Australia/New Zealand on the modalities for a possible free trade arrangement with the different ASEAN member countries.

We, at the Fair Trade Alliance (FairTrade-Philippines), wishes to register our position – Yes, we need to hold trade talks with Australia/New Zealand, but we do not have to conduct such talks for purposes of concluding a free trade arrangement with Australia/New Zealand.

Yes, we need to hold trade talks with Australia/New Zealand because we need to correct the trade imbalances with these countries. For 2005 alone, the Philippines incurred a trade deficit of US $76 million with Australia and US $237.4 million with New Zealand. In the last decade or so, these countries have taken advantage of the Philippine’s relatively open economy by flooding us with dairy, meat, fruit, wine and other products.

And yet, when our producers tried to export mango and banana to these countries, we are confronted with a protectionist brick in the form of Phytosanitary standards and tests unilaterally imposed by them. And when our producers tried to submit to these unfair tests, it is taking these countries forever – nearly a decade already – to conclude such tests, raising all kinds of technical and imagined issues.

It is time for the Philippines to draw the line between fair and unfair trade arrangements. No to Australia / New Zealand’s trade bullying.

Let us correct first the trade imbalances and the unfair trade practices of Australia/New Zealand before we even sit down with them to discuss modalities for a supposed free trade arrangement! What we need is a road map on how to correct such imbalances and unfairness, which an unqualified free trade arrangement is likely to exacerbate!

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  • Founded in 2001, the Fair Trade Alliance (FairTrade) of the Philippines is a broad multisectoral coalition of formal and informal labor, industry, agriculture, NGOs and youth pushing for trade and economic reforms.
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