U.S.-Australia Free Trade Agreement

U.S.-Australia FTA Overview
U.S.-Australia News
U.S.-Australia FTA & Labor
U.S.-Australia FTA & Agriculture
U.S.-Australia FTA & Access to Medicines/Intellectual Property Rights
U.S.-Australia FTA Text

U.S.-Australia FTA Overview
Despite strong opposition from U.S. dairy producers, sugar beet farmers and ranchers, and after a deadline extension, the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office completed negotiations with Australia for an U.S.-Australia Free Trade Agreement on February 8, 2004. The U.S. removed sugar issues from the negotiations in an apparent move to appease U.S. sugar producers who are already concerned about the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). Trade ministers from both countries signed the deal on May 18th. The U.S. Congress and the Australian parliament must both approve the agreement before it can go into effect.

The US-Australia FTA threatens farmers and workers in the US in several regards. It would immediately remove tariffs on several commodities important to small farmers, including beef, sheep, wheat, and cereal flour mixes. Dairy farmers and ranchers could lose their farms as quotas on dairy and beef products are phased out. In particular, the deal would open the U.S. market to imports of milk protein substitutes, a dairy waste product that many U.S. dairy farmers do not even consider fit for human consumption, and which the Food and Drug Administration doesn’t list as an approved food ingredient. The agreement would also result in a drastic increase of “runaway” film production to Australia where labor costs are cheaper.

The agreement has angered many Australians, especially because of threats to the country’s Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). Even though the PBS is lauded as a top health-care system, under the deal Australians would have to pay more for prescription drugs. The agreement focuses on the “rights” of pharmaceutical manufacturers while neglecting the rights of consumers to have access to affordable drugs. Services in Australia would also be open to privatization under the agreement unless specifically excluded. The US Trade Representative’s office says “Australia will accord substantial market access across its entire services regime, offering access in sectors such as telecommunications, express delivery, computer and related services, tourism, energy, construction and engineering, financial services, insurance, audio/visual and entertainment, professional, environmental, education and training, and other services sectors.”

More Questions Than Answers A Quick Analysis of the USTR Press Release on U.S.-Australia FTA, July 8, 2004
Ten Devils in the detail of the USFTA The Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network, March 2004
Australia FTA: Undermining our Agricultural Markets Fact sheet from WORC, February 2004

U.S.-Australia News
FTA doubts after ISP protest The Australian, December 6, 2004
Labor, And We, Will Live to Regret US Trade Deal, Sydney Morning Herald, November 22, 2004
Australia Says Last Hurdle Cleared for US Free Trade Deal, Agence France Presse, November 17, 2004
Drug Dispute Snags U.S.-Australia Pact, New York Times, November 15, 2004
Deal on US Free Trade in Sight, The Australian, November 15, 2004
Drug Hitch May Rock US Free Trade Deal, Australian Associated Press, October 28, 2004
Australia May Bow to Drug Firms’ Demands, Australian Associated Press, October 22, 2004
Drug Companies Want FTA Changes, Australian Associated Press, October 21, 2004
Trade Deal Could Fail, US Warns, The Australian, October 15, 2004

Doubts Raised Over US Trade Deal, Australian Associated Press, October 13, 2004
US Concerns Over Revised Trade Deal, Sydney Morning Herald, August 21, 2004
Free Trade Bill Passed, But Last Hurdle Looms, Sydney Morning Herald, August 14, 2004
US Free Trade Deal Locked In, Australian Associated Press, August 12, 2004
Australian Parliament Examines U.S. Free-Trade Deal, Reuters, August 9, 2004
Drug Spat Stalls Australia-US Free Trade Deal, Agence France Presse, August 4, 2004
Australia-U.S. Free Trade Deal Under Threat, Reuters, August 3, 2004
Read the Citizens Trade Campaign press release, July 14, 2004

U.S. House Votes to Outsource Cowboys, Family Farmers With Australia Trade Deal
U.S. House Approves Australian Free-Trade Agreement, Bloomberg, July 14, 2004
Congress Moves to Approve Free Trade Agreement with Australia, Associated Press, July 14, 2004
US Committee Approves Australia Free Trade Deal, Reuters, July 9, 2004
House Passes Free Trade Law, Senate Vote on Hold, Sydney Morning Herald, June 25, 2004
FTA Bills Pass First Hurdle, Australian Associated Press, June 24, 2004
Labor Moves Away from FTA, SBS, June 14, 2004
Claims by US Trade Negotiator About State Governments Misleading, Australian Fair Trade & Investment Network, June 10, 2004
Australia Loses Under FTA: Report, Australian Associated Press, June 7, 2004

Daschle Meets with Australian Prime Minister
Read the statement from Senator Tom Daschle, June 3, 2004
Australian Labor Party Warns It May Block Trade Deal, The Age, May 20, 2004
Despite Objections from Farmers and Ranchers, U.S. Plows Ahead with ‘Free Trade Agreement’ with Australia, Citizens Trade Campaign, May 18, 2004
Claimed Benefits of Australia-U.S. Trade Pact a Joke, Top Economists Say, Agence France Presse, May 4, 2004
U.S., Australia to Sign Free Trade Deal, Washington Times, May 4, 2004
Read the analysis from the Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network, April 2004

Submission to the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties – Inquiry into the USFTA
Lawyers Stall Free-Trade Release, Australian Financial Review, March 3, 2003
U.S. Australia Trade Pact May Have Environmental Costs, Environment News Service, February 11, 2004
U.S. Trade Agreement Angers Many in Australia, New York Times, February 9, 2004
U.S. and Australians Reach Wide-Ranging Trade Accord, New York Times, February 9, 2004
US misses two year-end Bilateral Trade deadlines Financial Times, December 11, 2003

U.S.-Australia FTA & Labor
Articles & Statements
Trade Deal Threatens Jobs: ACTU Sydney Morning Herald, April 20, 2004
Workers Unsure of Trade Benefits Border Mail, March 22, 2004
U.S. Unions Condemn Australia Trade Deal The Australian, March 18, 2004
Teamsters Criticize possible Trade Pact with Australia Press release by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, January 29, 2004
National Secretary of the Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union Opposing the U.S.-Australia FTA October 28, 2003
Joint Statement on the Proposed U.S.-Australia Free Trade Agreement Australian Council of Trade Unions and the AFL-CIO, September 2003

U.S.-Australia FTA & Agriculture
Fact Sheets
Australia Free Trade Agreement: Undermining our Agricultural Markets WORC, February 2004

News & Opinion
Opposition Claims US FTA Threatens Wheat Single Desk ABC Rural, December 8, 2004
Senate Completes Outsourcing of American Cowboy WORC Press Release, July 15, 2004
Ranchers Urge Senate to Reject Trade Agreement WORC Press Release, July 14, 2004
Australia trade pact will hurt U.S. ranchers Billings Gazette, June 15, 2004
Livestock Producers Tell Congress to Reject Australia Agreement WORC, June 15, 2004
Trade Agreement Outsources American Cowboy WORC, June 4, 2004
Trade: U.S., Australia Sign FTA Agweek, May 24, 2004
Schumer Urges Clampdown on Foreign Imports to Help Local Farms Survive Oswego Daily News, April 22, 2004
R-CALF Leader Testifies Against Australia FTA April 1, 2004
U.S. Wheat Industry Cannot Support Passage of U.S.-Australia FTA Representatives of U.S. wheat producers, March 18, 2004

U.S. Wheat Associates Oppose Australia FTA High Plains Journal, February 19, 2004
Dairy Farmer Intervention Averted AFTA’s ‘Worst Case’ Scenario, But DFA Members Still ‘Disappointed’ Press release from the Dairy Farmers of America, February 10, 2004
Agreement with Australia Trades Away U.S. Agriculture WORC Press Release, February 9, 2004
Wisconsin Farmer’s Union Disappointed with Australian FTA Press release by the Wisconsin Farmer’s Union, February 9, 2004
Jeffords, Leahy Call on President to Protect Dairy Farmers in Trade Negotiations Read the Senators’ Letter and Press Release, January 21, 2004
Letter to President Bush regarding US-Australia FTA National Family Farm Coalition, January 17, 2004
U.S. Agricultural Trade Policy – Better to Give Than Receive WORC Press Release, December 12, 2003
Dairy Farmers of America leaders Oppose the Australia FTA December 5, 2003

U.S.-Australia FTA & Access to Medicines/Intellectual Property Rights
Articles & Statements
Time to Gear Up for the Generic V Brand-Name Drugs Showdown Sydney Morning Herald, February 7, 2005
Patently Yours The Age, November 26, 2004
It’s Time – For a Bipartisan Stand-Firm Sydney Morning Herald, September 28, 2004
Leaders Face Challenge on Trade Threat to PBS The Australian, Spetember 27, 2004
FTA Leaves Us Second Among Equals Australian IT, August 31, 2004
Australia’s Low-Cost Drugs Threatened by US Trade Deal Christian Science Monitor, August 15, 2004
Australian Linux Bodies Blast US Free-Trade Deal ZDNet, August 6, 2004
Samba Developer Fears Free Trade Agreement Will Lead to ‘Patent War’ Computerworld, August 2, 2004
Plum Jobs for US Trade Deal Advisers Sydney Morning Herald, July 27, 2004

Costs Aplenty in ‘Free’ Trade IP Deals with US Sydney Morning Herald, July 24, 2004
Drug Prices to Rise Under FTA Special Broadcasting Service, July 22, 2004
U.S. Politicians Concerned FTA Will Push Up Price of Pharmaceuticals Australian Broadcasting Corporation, July 13, 2004
Bush Seeks Policy Fix for Drug Imports Boston Globe, July 13, 2004
Trade Agreement May Undercut Importing of Inexpensive Drugs New York Times, July 12, 2004
The U.S.-Australia Free Trade Agreement Can Preempt Drug Reimportation Bills, Challenge VA and Medicaid Drug Price Controls Center for Policy Analysis on Trade and Health, July 8, 2004
U.S.-Australia FTA Undermines Australian public health and protects US interests in pharmaceuticals British Medical Journal, May 29, 2004

U.S. Trade Deal Raises Prescriptions The Australian, May 20, 2004
Why Is Howard So Loyal to U.S. Business? The Age, May 20, 2004
A Backdoor to Higher Medicine Prices?The Australia Institute
FTA to ‘reduce cultural voice’ The Age, April 19, 2004
Online Petition Against IP Provisions in FTA Sydney Morning Herald, April 9, 2004
UPDATE: Electronic Frontiers Board Member Attacks Trade Deal ZDNet Australia, March 10, 2004
Drug Costs Will Rise with Deal: US Official Sydney Morning Herald, March 11, 2004
Libraries Caught in Copyright Changes The Age, February 11, 2004