Sunday, November 03, 2002

A tiny bit of good news

Australia has just signed a comprehensive free trade agreement with Singapore. This has been on the cards, and is not a big deal on a global scale, but is clearly good news. What would be nice from here is for Australia, NZ, and Singapore to negotiate membership of NAFTA (which presumably then would change its name) on essentially the same terms as Canada. I can see no reasonable arguments against this, so I wish they would get on with it. (Of course, there are unreasonable arguments against it - agriculture as always. What would be nice would be for Bush to demonstrate some guts and negotiate a deal regardless. However, I would not bet the farm on this one, given his record).

What would be nice would be for a deal like this to give citizens of the two countries complete freedom to move and work in both countries, as does the deal between Australia and New Zealand. Plus it would also make most professional qualifications from one country recognised in the other. From what I can gather from read, the deal allows freedom to work in the other country for many professionals, and includes recognition of professional qualifications in some but not all professions. Thus on immigration matters it seams closer to the NAFTA model (which allows fairly free movement for professionals but not for other workers) than the CER model between Australia and NZ (which allows genuinely free movement).

(Hmm. I just did a couple of google searches to attempt to find out a little more about the agreement, rather than just what the newspapers choose to tell me. Looking for a few terms such as "Singapore New Zealand free trade immigration", I found a 1994 Usenet article on aviation rights between Australia, New Zealand and Singapore. Not strictly relevant, but it looked interesting. I was about a paragraph in when I realised I wrote it).

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