Australia has long been in favour of “non-discriminatory” trade liberalization. Over the years, Australia has committed to removing trade barriers and supported multilateral efforts by organizations such as the World Trade Organization. 10.11 Dr Calvert said Australia was striving to maximise benefits for the country by pursuing “complementary opportunities at all levels – multilaterally through the WTO, bilaterally through free trade agreements and at the regional APEC level.”  In his view, Australia does not choose a free trade agreement with an economic partner or region at the expense of the multilateral trading system. He stressed that “FTA serve as a complementary instrument for further trade liberalization under WTO global trade rules.”  Australia`s trade policy reflects these international trends, with the country having signed seven free trade agreements and negotiated nine others. The high number of trade agreements between countries in the Asia-Pacific region has also raised concerns about the overlapping of trade rules and their impact on businesses due to the possible increase in transaction costs. One example is Australia, which is currently negotiating two bilateral agreements with Japan, the bilateral free trade agreement between Australia and Japan and the Regional Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP). Twelve countries participate in the TPP negotiations, but most market access issues are negotiated bilaterally, i.e. from country to country. Free trade agreements also offer other benefits to Australia. They can be negotiated and implemented more quickly than multilateral agreements and can play an important role in creating and enforcing liberalisation rules for non-WTO trade and investment issues. Free trade agreements allow Australian exporters and investors to enjoy the same preferential access, or better preferential access, enjoyed by exporters and investors of our competitors.
10.32 Therefore, the Committee finds that the case of the prima facie of a free trade agreement between Australia and China is to eliminate the existing costs of trade diversion. Given the size and centrality of the Chinese economy in the region and its compatibility with the Australian economy, a free trade agreement between Australia and China will also create trade. The chapter below examines these benefits in detail. The persistence of this discrimination on both sides of relations can be expected to gradually corrode the excellent current trade relationship between China and Australia. 10.19 There is also a discriminatory “internal” aspect of free trade agreements. Agreements are often negotiated and structured under the influence of powerful special interests, which can lead to resentment in sectors that are less politically influential. The liberalization of trade and investment agreements, whether bilateral, regional or multilateral, brings more prosperity to Australia in the form of stronger economic growth and more jobs than would otherwise be the case.