AIA Issues Mixed Comment on Australia Trade Pact

February 11, 2004

According to the American Insurance Association the new U.S.-Australia free trade agreement will help encourage investment and cement an effective trade partnership even though it falls short of completely eliminating trade barriers.

“This trade agreement, while not perfect, will help ensure that the United States and Australia remain very positive and cooperative trading partners for decades to come,” stated David Snyder, AIA vice president and assistant general counsel.

The AIA praised the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) for “working hard to eliminate or reduce regulatory barriers to doing business in Australia.” It noted, however that “the agreement fails to remove investment screening rules which authorize government review of a significant acquisition if it is not ‘in the national interest.'” The AIA called these rules vague and said they “could lead to outright protectionism.”

“Australia has a long history of responsible trading practices, so we are less concerned about the investment screening rule use there as much as we are its potential implementation elsewhere,” Snyder continued. “These kinds of rules tend to discourage investment that is important to economic growth.”

The new agreement is subject to congressional approval.

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