Tucked away in yesterday’s trade figures was what looks suspiciously like confirmation that Australia was dudded in the so-called free trade agreement it signed with the US three years ago.
The ABS stats show we bought $12.57 billion more stuff from foreigners than we sold to them in the latest financial year.
Ask the average person in the street why and you’re likely to get a sage nodding of the head and be told it’s no wonder given the way Australia is being flooded with goods from China. We can’t compete, we’ll be wiped out, etc.
The person would be wrong. Australia’s trade deficit with China and Hong Kong dropped 30 per cent last year to $2.67 billion – and it would have fallen much more if we could run railways and ports more efficiently.
Get Crikey FREE to your inbox every weekday morning with the Crikey Worm.
Well it must be those Japs then, with all their Toyotas and Mark Taylor flogging their air conditioners and them sushi restaurants.
Absolutely not. We enjoyed a very healthy trade surplus of $15.22 billion with Japan, up 10.6 per cent on the previous year.
No, it’s the Americans who ruin the respectability of our trade numbers as we racked up a deficit of $15.1 billion with the Yanks, 16 per cent worse than the previous year.
Our exports to the US improved a negligible $36 million – barely statistical noise – while imports from the US jumped by $2,165 million to $24,927 million.
Now, which country do we have a “free trade agreement” with? Not China or Japan – and the way negotiations are going, we probably won’t in the foreseeable future either.
The American FTA on the other hand seems to have been very good for America. So much for our Coalition of the Willing dividend.