14 February 2004

John Quiggin: NYT on FTA

A surprising number of commentators have made the claim that only anti-US or anti-government motives could explain opposition to such a deal. The (nearly) universally negative reception it has received outside Australia suggests the opposite - only partisans of the government or those who advocate unconditional compliance with the wishes of the US Administration could support it, once they have examined all the evidence (The fact that the details are still secret, and that the summaries released in the two countries differed radically is, of course, evidence in itself).

John's post about kills the pro-FTA arguments dead, as does the selection of opinion pieces he quotes. The sad fact, to recapitulate the Miami Herald (boldface mine):

Unseemly? America has no better friend than Australia. Yet such is the power of American sugar interests, the Bush administration has forced Australia to continue quotas on its sugar exports to America. That was a price for achieving the not-exactly ''free trade'' agreement signed last weekend. But look on the bright side: Restrictions on beef imports will be phased out over 18 years.

If this is the best the Howard/Bush chemistry can achieve then maybe it's time to close down the congaline. And why is the text being withheld?

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