Policy Briefing: Negotiating the Trifecta

How Australia’s Free Trade Agreements with Korea, Japan and China were forged

Peter Grey, Asia Society Australia & Corrs Chambers Westgarth; Dr Alex Yasumoto, Pacific Investments; Andrew Lumsden, Corrs Chambers Westgarth and Jan Adams, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

SYDNEY, 31 March 2015

Ms Jan Adams PSM, Deputy Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, addressed members of the Asia Society at an exclusive boardroom policy briefing in Sydney, exploring the complexities of negotiating Australia’s three Free Trade Agreements with China, Japan and Korea.

Asia Society Australia members gained insight into the long negotiation process culminating in the conclusion of the “unprecedented agreements”.  The difficulties of achieving progress in contentious areas of negotiations was discussed, with each of the three countries prioritising different policy issues that required varying approaches to negotiations.  Jan emphasised the pragmatism that was vital for the negotiations to advance, and the tight deadlines that the negotiators were required to work with. The three Free Trade Agreements were all successfully concluded in 2014, and are major achievements that have already benefitted Australia greatly since their conclusion.

In addition to the three agreements, discussion also covered the difficulties of negotiating a Free Trade Agreement with India, as well as the problems and prospects of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.  In these cases, the approach taken to negotiations greatly differs from that of the East Asian agreements, due to differing political and cultural contexts.

The briefing brought together Asia Society Australia members across many different fields, including business, government, and law. The event was generously sponsored by Corrs Chambers Westgarth, and was co-hosted by Peter Grey, Board Member, Asia Society Australia and Co-Chair of the Japan Business Group at Corrs Chambers Westgarth, as well as Robert Reagan, Partner in Charge, Sydney at Corrs Chambers Westgarth.

 Reported by Crystal Ji