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Australian Business Groups Promote Benefits Of Free Trade

by Mary Swire,, Hong Kong

21 April 2017

A group of five Australian business associations has published a factsheet on the benefits of free trade, which argues that tariff cuts have made the average family up to AUD3,900 (USD2,940) better off each year.

The factsheet was prepared by the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association, the Business Council of Australia, the Minerals Council of Australia, and the National Farmers Federation.

According to the factsheet, tariff cuts have boosted Australia's GDP by 2.5 to 3.5 percent. It said that Australia's international trade was worth AUD662bn in 2015-16, with 2.7 million Australian jobs reliant upon trade. It also stated that Australian exporters pay employees 11.5 percent more on average than non-exporters.

The factsheet argued that tariffs hit those on the lowest incomes hardest. It warned that "shutting off" trade would reduce the purchasing power of the poorest 10 percent of income earners by 63 percent. By contrast, those on high incomes would lose 28 percent of their spending power.

It added that halving trade barriers in G20 nations would boost Australia's exports by 28 percent, GDP by 6.9 percent, employment by over two percent, and wages by over four percent.

Jenny Lambert, Acting CEO of the Australian Chamber, commented: "Trade has had an enormous impact in Australia to create jobs, grow businesses, spark innovation, and expand choices. The living standards of Australians would be much lower today were it not for our long-standing openness to trade."

"But many people are not aware of how trade has improved their lives, so have become easy targets for opportunists spreading misinformation. We have already seen a populist backlash in some parts of the world against free trade, and must act now to avoid that backlash taking hold in Australia."

TAGS: business | export duty | commerce | employees | tariffs | trade treaty | Australia | agreements | import duty | G20 | standards | trade association | chamber of commerce | trade

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