Australia Finds out "Free" Trade Ain't So Free After All

By way of Public Citizen, there is a new 400 page report on Australia's six NAFTA style trade agreements that concludes they ain't doin' much for their economy, Bloody onkus mate.

The Productivity Commission has told the government there is little evidence to suggest Australia's six free-trade agreements have produced substantial commercial benefits

Millions of dollars of taxpayer funds has been paid out to multinational corporations due to corporate lawsuits filed under NAFTA's investor-state dispute settlement provisions.

The Age reports Australia is losing millions to free trade agreements, over copyrights of all things.

Copyright provisions inserted in the US-Australia Free Trade Agreement could eventually cost Australia as much as $88 million per year as the nation pays an extra 25 per cent each year in net royalty payments, ''not just to US copyright holders, but to all copyright holders''.

The copyright provisions extend payments from 50 years after an author's death to 70 years and enshrine in Australian law ''rules that would otherwise be anti-competitive such as permitting the use of region codes on DVD players''.

The provisions have saddled Australia with copyright obligations ''even higher than in the US … because we matched their higher level of copyright protection but have maintained our lower level of copyright users' rights'', the report says.

The net present value of the extra copyright costs imposed by the provisions agreed to by the Howard government when it signed a US-Australia agreement might amount to $700 million.

''And this is a pure transfer overseas, and hence pure cost to Australia,'' the report says.

Who uses region codes anyway? No wonder the Chinese pirate copyrighted materials left and right. Beyond the fact Australia tries to honor it's agreements, sounds like trade agreements, like the law, also do not keep up with technological advances. Region codes, you serial?

Here is the actual report on Australian trade.

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