Fair Trade

Goods produced under conditions which do not meet a rudimentary standard of decency should be regarded as contraband and not be allowed to pollute the channels of international commerce.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt
32nd President of the United States (1933–1945)

ASP policy on international trade

As a sovereign nation (i.e. acting in the best interests of its own citizens) Australia has the right to determine not only which goods can move across its borders, but also the conditions under which such goods are imported or exported.

The ASP supports a policy of FAIR TRADE - which is a pragmatic approach to the conflicting demands of Free Trade and  Protectionism.


Fair Trade can best be described as being based on the following principles:

  • Industries that are crucial for national security (e.g. food, energy, communication and defence) should be protected and nurtured.
  • Local competition must be encouraged in industries that support the national interest.
  • Industries (local and overseas) must compete on a level playing field, or pay some penalty.
  • Local industries must be protected against unfair business practices of trans-national corporations.
  • The environmental cost of manufacture and transport must be reflected in prices.
  • All people are entitled to a dignified wage for an honest day of labour.
  • Uncompetitive and inefficient industries must be allowed to fail.

There is a fine line between exploitation and fair competition, and the ASP believes that any form of exploitation must be quantified and openly reported.

I pity the man who wants a coat so cheap that the man or woman who produces the cloth will starve in the process.

Benjamin Harrison
23rd President of the United States (1889–1893)

Free Trade

Free trade is a policy whereby governments do not discriminate against imports or exports, and can be characterised as follows:

  • Where trade occurs without taxes, tariffs or trade barriers.
  • Where there are no quotas on imports, or subsidies for producers.
  • Where cross border services occur without taxes or other trade barriers.
  • Where there are no "trade-distorting" policies (such as taxes, subsidies, regulations, or laws).
  • Where there is unregulated access to markets and market information.
  • Where firms cannot distort markets through government-imposed monopoly or oligopoly power.
  • Where trade agreements encourage "free trade".

tpp-stiglitzThe latest free trade agreement that will affect Australia is the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, which has been negotiated in secret between 12 nations.

The TPP will grant to corporations, rights that are above those of individuals, communities and sovereign governments. Corporations will be able to sue governments for lost revenue if they are prevented from doing business based on environmental concerns.

Additional consequences of adopting the TPP will be: more fracking, no GMO food labeling, less local food, restrictive patents on life-saving drugs, offshore tribunals that report to corporations, etc ...

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was sold to the American public on the basis that it would create jobs and result in a trade surplus. The exact opposite has happened, with America losing 682,900 jobs as a direct result of NAFTA.

Any claim by Australian politicians that the TPP will be good for Australia is purely speculative.

The term "free trade" may sound noble, but empirical evidence and leaked TPP documents indicate that:

  • Trans-national corporations are the biggest beneficiaries.
  • Workers are exploited and become trapped in slave wage environments.
  • Corporations will be able to overrule national laws.
  • National sovereignty and individual rights will be the biggest losers.
  • The environment will be at risk - with pollution and resource stripping.
  • Local jobs and manufacturing will get shipped overseas into exploited labour markets.

Free trade is often equated to democracy and sold to the public as an abundance of choice, offering cheap t-shirts and cheap TVs. What is never discussed is the real cost.

Free trade is not fair trade


Protectionism is a swear word in polite society, and yet not only was protectionism widely practiced in the past by major developed countries, but many such policies exist to this very day. See the links further below.

Professor Ha-Joon Chang (Cambridge University) details how most developed countries (especially Britian and the USA) protected and promoted their own industries with protectionism.

Protectionism can be implemented through various mechanisms, with the most common being:

Beneficially, protectionism can be seen as a set of tools, available to any sovereign government, to be used judiciously to achieve the following objectives:

  • Protect industries that support the national interest.
  • Nurture new industries that are vulnerable during development.
  • Penalise corporations that exploit markets and people.
  • Ensure that the competitive playing field is level.
  • Ensure people are paid a dignified wage.
  • Protecting the environment.

Friedrich List calls the hypocrisy of governments using protectionism to build their own industries, and thereafter preaching "free trade" - kicking away the ladder.

It is a very common clever device that when anyone has attained the summit of greatness, he kicks away the ladder by which he has climbed up, in order to deprive others of the means of climbing up after him. In this lies the secret of the cosmopolitical doctrine of Adam Smith, and of the cosmopolitical tendencies of his great contemporary William Pitt, and of all his successors in the British Government administrations. Any nation which by means of protective duties and restrictions on navigation has raised her manufacturing power and her navigation to such a degree of development that no other nation can sustain free competition with her, can do nothing wiser than to throw away these ladders of her greatness, to preach to other nations the benefits of free trade, and to declare in penitent tones that she has hitherto wandered in the paths of error, and has now for the first time succeeded in discovering the truth.

Friedrich List
19th century German economist

Download this file (The price for Free Trade.pdf)The price for Free Trade.pdf585 kB


Videos - Fair Trade

What is the TPP

TPP to overrule national laws

TPP - Corporations overrule the law

TPP - fast track to poverty

TPP - no regard for the environment

Globalisation - when fashion kills

The real cost of cheap imports

Exploited workers die in Bangladesh

Slave labour in China

The USA experiencing job losses

Jobs outsourced to India

Sweatshop warriors

Hidden face of globalisation (part 1)

Hidden face of globalisation (part 2)

Hidden face of globalisation (part 3)

Hidden face of globalisation (part 4)

End of accordion

Best with Firefox


Cluster Map