The Australia - United States free trade agreement: the boomerang of competitive liberalisation?
Leaver, Richard Lawrence
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Not all that long ago, considerable intellectual energy was spent across Australia analysing the formation of trade policy. And, much as elsewhere, there were two basic approaches. The first approach focussed on the evolution of 'the rules of the game' in multilateral trade, stepping off from the assumption that national policy was essentially an autonomous instrument designed to leverage those rules in directions broadly favourable to local industries. The second approach consisted of tracking the course of pressure group politics, and worked on the assumption that national policy was the vector outcome of many conflicting interests. But under the Howard government, it seems that much of the hard analytic work required by both these approaches can, at critical junctures, be suspended. Trade policy has twice defaulted to settings that were flavour-of-the-month in Washington.