Executive Briefing | Who's driving free trade in the region?

In responding to disruptive forces, it is important that debate avoids dwelling on the past and looks to the future

Robert Milliner

Ellis Cowan/Asia Society

SYDNEY, Asia Society Australia in partnership with King & Wood Mallesons proudly hosted Mr Robert Milliner, Senior Adviser, International Affairs at Wesfarmers Limited, Senior Adviser at UBS and Senior Adviser to the Secretary-General of the International Chamber of Commerce, for a roundtable luncheon event as part of our ‘Business of Asia’ series.

Following the Trump administration's decision to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, doubts have emerged around the future of free trade in the region. Mr Milliner briefed guests on what implications these events may have for the region and offered advice on what Australia can to do navigate this uncertain environment. 

Citing confusion of the liberal world order, disruption led by the fourth industrial revolution  and a rising preference for bilateralism over multilateralism as contributing factors to this shifting free trade landscape, Mr Milliner took guests through the strengths and weaknesses of global institutions like the WTO and APEC and gave a comprehensive breakdown of the regional trade agreements that are currently on the table, as well as the players pushing each agreement. This included the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP) the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and the China-backed Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP). 

Following his briefing, Mr Milliner participated in a question and answer session with event guests. 

Asia Society Australia’s Executive Briefings are a curated series of meetings presented by diplomats, business leaders and subject matter experts from Asia and Australia. Designed to offer a deep dive into the critical issues of the day, to an audience of senior executives from the business, political, educational and cultural institutions that make up the Asia Society network.

This event was generously hosted by King and Wood Mallesons.