Policy & Engagement

In recent years we have seen unprecedented debate concerning the legitimacy of trade agreements, widespread concern about the potential effects of globalisation and a dangerous resurgence of protectionism which has the potential to profoundly impact economic development and trade arrangements throughout the world. 

Today, more than ever, universities have a critical role to play in supporting the pursuit of effective, transparent and responsible trade policy which is both responsive to economic challenges and enables countries to capitalise on the opportunities presented by the global economy. 

The Institute for International Trade works closely with our partners to develop and maintain a deep dialogue with government, business, civil society and the wider public.

Analysis and IIT news

Whither (not Wither) Multilateralism: Priorities for G7 Trade Ministers

Ken Ash, Visiting Fellow, Institute for International Trade and formerly Director of Trade and Agriculture at the OECD. Is the high point in multilateral trade relations already 30 years in the past? Are notions of international cooperation and mutual benefit relics of an earlier time? Hopefully not, there is still much more to play for. Amidst the visible geopolitical tensions, and what often looks like a blurring of trade, economic, climate, and security interests, there are some encouraging signs recently. This brief considers prior developments that helped shape the nature of the trade policy debate today, offers an admittedly optimistic assessment of a renewed interest by G7 members in international cooperation, and highlights immediate priorities for action by G7 Trade Ministers

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Much ado about Something? Australia’s Views on IPEF’s Prospects.

Recently the IPEF’s Pillar 2 text on Supply Chains was released. But what is IPEF, and what does it mean for Australia? In this paper, published by the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (Tokyo) and NUS’s Institute for South Asian Studies, IIT Executive Director Professor Peter Draper canvasses the issues.

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TRADE POLICY DECODED - New podcast launched!

International Trade (IIT) and the Australian Centre for International Trade and Investment (ACITI) are pleased to announce the launch of our Podcast Trade Policy Decoded – a podcast that shines a light on what’s happening in trade policy in Australia and around the world.

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Europe and Africa: Interests and values must be aligned with mutual respect

Prof. Dr. Stefan Liebing is CEO and owner of Conjuncta GmbH, Prof. Dr. Andreas Freytag is Professor at the Friedrich Schiller University Jena
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sharply escalated the incipient global contest for influence between the West and authoritarian powers. Africa, historically a stronghold of European influence, is one arena. Why aren’t African leaders supporting the international rule of law by moving to isolate Russia? In this article the authors argue that Europe needs to de-emphasise values and do more to elevate African trade and investment needs to the top of their engagement with Africa.

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Quantifying the impact of Chinese coercion on key Australian commodity exports

Mike Adams former Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) economist, Ron Wickes former Director of the Trade Analysis Section of DFAT consider recent analyses of the costs of Chinese economic coercion to Australian exports. Whereas some argue those were relatively minor and easily absorbed, in their view the costs have been substantially higher than hitherto appreciated. Understanding the true costs has important implications for calibrating bilateral trade strategy towards China.

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China’s Western Neighbours, and the Future of Eurasian Overland Trade

Richard Pomfret, Emeritus Professor of Economics, the University of Adelaide.
China’s flagship foreign policy, the Silk Road Economic Belt, was announced in 2013 in Astana, capital of Kazakhstan, and became part of the Belt and Road Initiative that was launched in May 2017.  Rail connections west through Kazakhstan were the key part of the overland “Belt”. President Xi has recently and publically confirmed the importance of this relationship, an act which has import in the context of the current Ukraine-Russia war, as argued in this op-ed

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Strengthening African Agricultural Trade: The Case For Domestic Support Entitlement Reforms

Reform of domestic agriculture support in the form of financial subsidies has long been a vexed issue. One relatively promising area for reform is to address WTO members’ entitlements to deploy domestic support, rather than aiming to cut actual expenditures per se. Specifically, reducing entitlements would diminish members’ rights to increase domestic support payments in future. Such reductions are best targeted at those subsidies that distort trading partners’ production and trade incentives, rather than at subsidies generally regarded as either relatively benign, or minimally distorting to support domestic farmers and the agricultural economy. Read our latest working paper on this important issue.



Foreign Minister Wang Yi Makes a 9th ‘first trip of the year’ to Africa

Dr Lauren A. Johnston is Visiting Senior Lecturer, Adelaide University Institute of International Trade and Founding Director, New South Economics. China continues to prioritize its relations with Africa. As a result, China’s Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, has continued with a longstanding Chinese tradition of making an African country the first foreign visit of the year. This op-ed provides analysis of which countries were visited, and why, as well as how the schedule fits with China’s development strategy in Africa.



Why Australia fails to understand the EU

Richard Pomfret, Jean Monnet Chair in the Economics of European Integration at the Institute for International Trade, 2017-2020. Professor of Economics Emeritus at the University of Adelaide. Australian political leaders have long held a simplistic and misleading understanding of the European Union, due to over-reliance on reports from London for coverage of EU affairs. This op-ed argues Canberra needs to develop a more diversified and modern understanding of the EU project, and its value to Australia.



Back from the Brink! The WTO gets on with Serious Business.

Anthony Patrick Dela Pena Chua is Lead Staffer to both the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) Philippines and the Philippine Services Coalition.
Jane Drake-Brockman is Founder and Director of the Australian Services Roundtable and a co-convenor of the Asia Pacific Services Coalition.
Some matters are too important and the benefits too great for the global trading community, to let another postponement of the WTO Ministerial Conference get in the way of timely joint action.



Why Abandoning the WTO E Commerce Moratorium is a Terrible Idea

Jane Drake-Brockman is Industry Professor, Institute for International Trade, Convenor of the JM Network, Trade & Investment in Services Associates (TIISA), Member of the G20 Trade and Investment Research Network (TIRN) and Founder and Director of the Australian Services Roundtable.
Services stakeholders around the world are banding together as never before in a last-ditch effort in the lead up to the 12th WTO Ministerial Session in Geneva on 30 November. Many issues are at stake, but one stands on a pedestal of its own; the WTO moratorium on customs duties on electronic transmissions.



Government subsidies and environmental costs

Ken Ash is an Independent Consultant, IIT Visiting Fellow, and former OECD Director of Trade and Agriculture.
economic and trade distortions caused by ill-conceived government support for sectors ranging from agriculture, fisheries and fossil fuels to aluminium (2019, 2021), steel and semiconductors are enormous. While this is explicitly recognized by G7, G20 and APEC member governments, amongst others, the pace of subsidy reform remains glacial.