Bilateral and regional trade agreements: A case for economic reform?
Abstract: Following the global financial crisis, economic growth and international trade growth have been sluggish. Current projections indicate that growth may continue to be sluggish in the medium term. These continuing trends will limit income raising productivity growth needed to maintain and improve living standards with population ageing across many economies. It will also limit capacities needed to raise living standards amongst lower income regions. Gaining public acceptance of productivity, improving policies and the contribution that trade openness makes, however, is getting harder due to re-emerging national protectionist sentiments. This paper looks at possible ways to improve trade policy formulation at the national, regional and global levels through evidence to bolster the case for greater openness and economic reform. Growth could be revived if G20 countries act to implement deeper and wider trade and economic reforms, and avoid policies that limit productivity growth prospects.
Paul Gretton is a former Assistant Commissioner at the Australian Productivity Commission where he headed the Trade and Economic Studies branch. The branch was responsible for trade policy reviews, assessment of the impacts of national economic reforms, productivity reporting and quantitative economic modelling. Paul has been responsible for commissioned reports including into Rules of Origin;; Bilateral and Regional Trade Agreements; and the impacts and benefits of national economic reform. He has also undertaken research into productivity, land degradation and the Australian agricultural industry, firm size and export performance and the impact of ICTs on economic growth. He was responsible for the preparation of the Commission’s annual Trade & Assistance Review. Paul has worked as an advisor in Pakistan, the Kyrghyz Republic and Ukraine, and has represented Australia in forums in the Asia-Pacific and OECD areas. Currently, Paul is a Visiting Fellow at the Crawford School and the Centre of European Studies at the Australian National University.