Specialised Research and Consulting
In its contract work for businesses in Australia and overseas and through research projects funded by government, the private sector and international intergovernmental organizations, the Institute has completed a number of significant projects over the years.
On-going international trade negotiations - both those in the WTO and in the growing number of Free Trade Agreements - and their implications for business and government policy-makers have been the subject of many of our projects. A number of projects have researched the specific implications of trade agreements and reforms for developing countries.
Other research work has focussed on how governments and businesses have dealt with the challenges of participating in a complex international trading environment and how modern approaches to customs matters and border controls can speed international trade flows.
Projects undertaken by the Institute include:
- Trade, Development and the MDGs
Click here to view the Trade, Development and the MDGs - Policy Brief
Research project commissioned by AusAID that analysed how trade initiatives are helping to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. Some of the findings include:
- Well-planned and strategically executed trade policy initiatives impact positively on sustainable poverty reduction.
- Trade, accompanied by the right domestice policies, can contribute significantly to economic growth and poverty alleviation.
- Aid for Trade is an important component to help countries in taking advantage of trade liberalisation and achieveing the MDGs.
- Failure to complete the Doha Development Agenda (DDA) is a major gap in the achievement of MDG-8.
- The Doha Round should be concluded not because it will create greater security of market access.
- A Multilateral Trade Facilitation Agreement would greatly assist developing countries in lowering their trading costs.
- Increased market access for agricultural products from LDCs and developing countries is vital for the achievement of the MDGs.
- Support for a major focus on services liberalisation especially for LDCs, SVEs, LLDCs including strong support for liberalisation and appropriate regulation of education, health, transport, financial and ICT services will, in most cases, pay significant dividens for the achievement of the MDGs. This should include greater commitment from WTO members for opening up of labour markets to lower-skilled and unskilled labour from LDCs and SVEs.
- Along with achieving trade barrier reductions, it is also important to focus on (a) the reduction of non-tariff barriers, (b) providing developing countries with the capacity to take advantage of trade opportunities, and (c) the regional dimension of trade and South-South trade and cooperation.
- Aid for Trade also can help to foster South-South cooperation.
- Trade reform and liberalisation are directly related to the achievement of MDGs
- Australia has been a strong supporter of the MDGs and should maintain its commitment to Aid for Trade.
- Viability of Alternative Frameworks for Agricultural Trade Negotiations
Sponsored by the Australian Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC) and the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), the Institute for International Trade is involved in a two-year research project into the viability of alternative frameworks for agricultural trade negotiations. The project is based on the notion that the draft modalities under discussion in Geneva have unnecessarily delayed progress in agricultural trade negotiations and would produce a seriously flawed result of little economic benefit if they eventually served as the basis for a global deal in agriculture. The Institute and its collaborators in Australia and overseas are looking at the potential for trade deals negotiated on the basis of “critical mass” and other (for example a single market access modality for industry and agricultural tariffs) alternative frameworks. Finalised research papers and conference results (from conferences in Adelaide in 2008 and Canberra in 2009) will eventually be published by the project leaders.
- Impact of Chinese WTO Accession in Key Trading Partners
The Institute, in collaboration with the Seoul-based Institute for Trade and Investment, contributed to a study of how the trade policy changes in China following WTO accession had affected attitudes toward China in key selected trade partners. Research by the Institute for International Trade addressed the impact of Chinese accession in Australia, Canada and Switzerland.
- International Trade Issues Affecting the Australian Seafood Industry
Under contract to the Australian Seafood Cooperative research Centre, the Institute produced a report in June 2008 that examined the main international trade issues affecting the Australian seafood sector. The report addressed specific issues in the Doha Round of WTO negotiations, bilateral and regional trade agreements, and other trade issues affecting the industry’s interests.
- Implications for South Australia of Australia's FTAs
Under contract to the South Australian Department of Trade and Economic Development, the Institute produced three reports in 2008 examining the potential implications for the South Australian economy of Australian Free Trade Agreement negotiations with Japan, the Republic of Korea and Chile.
- Report on the Potential of a Pacific Trade Agreement with Australia and New Zealand
The Australian Government recently commissioned the Institute for International Trade to prepare a report on the potential benefits and challenges of a preferential trade agreement between Australia, New Zealand and the 14 Pacific Island countries who are members of the Pacific Island Forum. A team of research consultants and academics from across the Pacific region undertook consultations and desk research in developing the 40 recommendations in the report, which have now been received by the Trade Ministers of all countries concerned. The report emphasizes the need for political and economic reforms in the Pacific but with sufficient preparatory work and trade related capacity building to allow Pacific Island Countries the time to undertake these reforms and set in place the machinery to reap the long-term benefits of a regional trade agreement with Australia and New Zealand. The value of greater commitment to temporary labour market access is strongly embraced though with a number of provisions that advise on proceeding cautiously. Greater flexibility in the applications of rules of origin and further research on removing barriers to trade in services are among the many recommendations put forward in this report. The full report is available here.
- China Trade Issues and Free Trade Agreements
The Institute, through its longstanding special relationships in Shanghai and Shenzhen and its extensive contacts at various government levels in China is playing an active role in helping the public understand the impact of China's rapid economic development and rising trade importance. Institute researchers are involved in various aspects of the Australia-China negotiations on a Free Trade Agreement and have undertaken projects on behalf of clients in both countries. Early in the process leading to the current FTA negotiations between Australia and China the Institute conducted an in-depth analysis of the key issue of market economy status for China in Australia for antidumping purposes.
- AusAID Trade and Poverty Reduction Project
As a follow-up to the successful publication of 45 case-studies in "Managing the Challenges of WTO Participation", AusAID with the support of the WTO have commissioned the Institute for International Trade to prepare a set of major issue papers and over 30 case-studies exploring the complex relationship between trade and poverty reduction with a focus on the Asia-Pacific region. While much has been written about the theoretical relationship between economic growth and poverty, there is growing demand for high-quality analysis of the practical impact of trade policy on reduce poverty in developing countries. This research will contribute to this objective by informing the trade policy and trade related capacity building program priorities of national governments and donor bodies concerned with long-term poverty reduction strategies in the Asia-Pacific Region. The project is expected to be completed by April 2008.
- Study on the Potential Impact of PICTA on Smaller Forum Island Nations
PICTA is the agreement among all 14 Pacific Island Nations to cooperate on the gradual reduction of trade barriers in pursuit of a more integrated and competitive Pacific regional economy. The Institute for International Trade together with Pacific partners Pacific Trade Consult, were commissioned by the Pacific Island Forum Secretariat based in Fiji, to undertake an analysis of the potential impact of PICTA on eight of the smaller island nations.
Within the limited constraints of a short-term six week study, the final report demonstrates that the near and medium term impact on tariff revenues of implementing PICTA will be relatively minor and should be offset by other revenue raising measures and the adoption of more cost efficient implementation procedures that are either already in place or under consideration in most of the smaller Pacific Island Countries. It is argued throughout these smaller nations should treat PICTA as a small stepping stone to a more open, integrated and transparent trading system where the potential benefits should far outweigh the more immediate challenges. The final report was completed in May 2007 and copies are available from the PIFS website or from the Institute
- ASEAN Business Services Project
The ASEAN Australian Development Cooperation Program (AADCP) includes a Regional Economic Policy Support Facility that aims to promote economic and social development within the ASEAN region by strengthening economic integration and by enhancing competitiveness. The Institute for International Trade joined forces with the University of the Philippines - Centre for the Advancement of Trade Integration and Facilitation, the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Indonesia and the Thailand Development Research Institute to undertake a research study examining the opportunities for the expansion of business services among ASEAN economies. The study involved close collaboration between the Institute for International Trade and other sections of the University of Adelaide in particular the Commerce Faculty and the Economics Faculty.
The study identified and evaluated policies and domestic regulations that impede trade amongst ASEAN member countries in five business services sectors, namely accountancy, architectural, legal, computer and related services and management consulting services. Complex structures of trade-inhibiting policies and regulations were found, particularly in the regulated professional sectors. Yet even the unregulated sectors of computer and related services and management consulting were also found to have their share of policies that were discriminatory against foreign suppliers and protective of incumbents. A number of strategies to overcome existing barriers and move negotiations forward for the progressive liberalization of business services are recommended. The study was completed in May 2007 and is available on the ASEAN secretariat website or from the Institute.
- APEC Study of Uneven Growth
The Australian Government though AusAID commissioned the Institute to undertake research to identify successful regional policy experiences - in terms of achieving more even growth outcomes - within APEC economies with particular reference to the implications for developing economies. The Institute developed case-studies on uneven growth in Australia, China, Indonesia, the Philippines and Canada as part of the broader study, to draw out lessons of relevance for developing country policy-makers. The research was completed in early September 2006 and then tabled at APEC's Economic and Technical Cooperation Committee meeting later that month.
In brief, the study finds that the appropriate role of government is to intervene in the market in such a way as to maximise the advantages of high growth regions and to facilitate market led reform while also taking effective action to minimise the underlying economic and social costs of disparity through specific and targeted programs. Numerous generic and specific lessons are drawn on how policy settings and implementation programs might best achieve a flexible balance between growth and distribution strategies.
- UN-Sponsored Trade Facilitation and Logistics Services Project
- Trade Facilitiation in Regional Trade Agreements
The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for the Asia-Pacific (UNESCAP) hosts the secretariat for the Asia-Pacific Research and Training Network on Trade (ARTNeT) created in 2004 to assist policy makers in the region on trade policy issues. The Institute for International Trade was commissioned by ARTNeT to undertake two research projects on issues related to trade facilitation. One study focussed on a comparative analysis of the treatment of trade facilitation in regional agreements such as APEC, an ASEAN FTA (AFTA), and the emerging agreement on closer economic relations between Pacific Island Countries with Australia and New Zealand, PACER. The comparative analysis not only gives insight into model trade facilitation measures for developing countries but also examines relevant implementation challenges.
- (ii) The Relationship between Trade Facilitation and Logistic Services
The second research study examined the relationship between logistics services liberalisation and trade facilitation reform using the seafood industry in South Australia as a case-study. The study highlighted that a regulatory framework which can balance the need to progress the liberalisation of logistics services while at the same time maintain the requisite degree of control at national borders to protect against security, safety and health threats, will best lay the foundation for the most effective development of logistic services and trade facilitation. Consultation with all the relevant stakeholders - governmental bodies, suppliers of logistics services, and exporters and importers dependent upon logistics services - will help to realise the known benefits of logistics liberalisation.
Both studies were completed in July 2006 and are available on the ARTNeT website or from the Institute for International Trade.
- Trade Facilitiation in Regional Trade Agreements
- Managing the Challenges of WTO Participation
A major research project managed by the Institute and jointly funded by AusAID and the World Trade Organization resulted in a compilation published by Cambridge University Press in late 2005 with the title "Managing the Challenges of WTO Participation: 45 Case Studies". The book, which chronicles the positive and negative experiences of governments and the business community in developing countries through a series of 3,000-5,000 word chapters, was officially launched in Australia by the Hon. Alexander Downer, M.P., Minister for Foreign Affairs, at a ceremony in Parliament House, Canberra on May 24, 2006. The compilation of case studies is already in wide use as a tool for trade-related capacity building and academic course work. Individual case studies from the book are available to read (but cannot be printed) on the WTO website. ;The 633-page book has been publicly endorsed by former WTO Directors-General Peter Sutherland and Renato Ruggiero as well as by former US Trade Representative Clayton Yeutter and Financial Times Columnist Guy de Jonquieres.
- China-Australia FTA Impact on South Australia
The Institute completed work in January 2006 on its study of the likely economic implications for South Australia of a Free Trade Agreement between China and Australia. The study provides a qualitative assessment of the impacts (positive and negative) of an FTA. Australia's economy is already mainly open to Chinese exporters, however, there are selected sectors that might be threatened by increased competition from China. The report recommends that these sensitivities need to be taken into account. At the same time, it is clear from the study that Australian business stands to gain through preferential liberalisation of China's service sector where exposure to increased competition from Australia will also produce benefits for the Chinese economy. Gains are also identified from increased sales of seafood, wine, dairy products, wool and forestry products.
- Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation Study
In December 2006, the Institute completed a report commissioned by the Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation (AWBC) on the contribution made by the AWBC to the management of international trade issues affecting the export markets of the Australian wine industry. The report concluded that AWBC had made important and recognised contributions to the successful management of trade issues - particularly those involving regulatory matters - and recommended that the corporation should continue to be involved in those trade areas of its historic involvement.