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More reasons to sceptical of trade deal rhetoric

Media Release
Peter Whish-Wilson 25 Feb 2015

The Greens spokesperson for Trade, Senator Peter Whish-Wilson, today questioned Treasury officials about the so-called economic benefits of the Abbott Government’s trade deals. Treasury officials revealed that that have done no modelling on the economic benefits of these deals to include in GDP forecasts.

Senator Whish-Wilson said, “The incoming Government brief prepared by Treasury in 2010 said that the potential benefits of the Free Trade Agreements currently under negotiation have been oversold and the negatives largely ignored.

“Today’s Estimates revelations suggest that Treasury officials believe that the benefits of Abbott’s trade deals are so illusory that they don’t need to account for them in their economic forecasts.

When asked if Treasury conducts modelling of the economic impact of Abbott’s trade deals, Executive Director - Macroeconomic Group, Ms Jenny Wilkinson said, “No, we haven’t done any modelling of the economic impact of the free trade deals.”

Senator Whish-Wilson continued, “There are only two reasons that Treasury would not model these deals to include in their economic forecasts. Either Treasury does not think that these trade deals will have any significant economic impact or the Government doesn’t want any public scrutiny of their trade deal claims.

“The Government has been high on rhetoric with these trade deals and low on scrutiny.

“As with the US-Australia Free Trade Agreement, the Australian public is rightly sceptical this barrage of trade deals will ever deliver on the economic claims that have been made by the Government,” he concluded.

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