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Bold spin to pay off

AN international trade expert has called for Australia to be bold in its negotiations with the US and use an Australia-US Free Trade Agreement to set strong trade precedents that could be taken to the WTO multilateral negotiations.

Dr Paula Stern, the head of the international trade advisory company The Stern Group, said Australia’s strong ties with the US, both diplomatically and militarily, put Australia in a strong position to successfully negotiate the AUSFTA.

“You are a developed country, in some cases more developed than ours,” Dr Stern, an American, said.

“You have high standards in labour and environment, in non-trade issues.

“You are a major investor overseas and you have a very strong judiciary and a very strong respect for the rule of law. I would hope that you would be bold and help us make sure that we are setting precedents between ourselves that we could then take to developing countries.”

Dr Stern said the AUSFTA would be an important step to multilateral trade arrangements through the provision of better access to the US market — the world’s largest domestic economy.

Dr Stern told WA Business News she did not believe the AUSFTA would have a negative impact on Australia’s trade relations with Asian trading partners, but rather that such an agreement may indeed improve existing trading partnerships.

Dr Stern, who was the former chair of the US International Trade Commission, was in Perth following speaking engagements throughout Australia as part of the US State Department’s discussions of the US position on the AUSFTA negotiations.

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