Aid, trade and development are intimately linked. Aid has often facilitated a trade liberalisation agenda with free trade seen as a path to economic growth and development. However, free trade arrangements force developing countries to open up their economies to goods and services from wealthier and more politically powerful nations. This can inhibit the development of domestic industries and create greater inequality locally, and globally.

Australia is negotiating two regional free trade agreements, the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) and the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations – Plus (PACER-Plus). The TPP includes high and middle-income countries around the Pacific rim, while PACER-Plus is between Australia, New Zealand and 14 Pacific Island countries. Both the TPP and PACER-Plus are concerning for the uneven power relations between the participating countries and their focus on markets over human development.

AID/WATCH invited guest speakers Ken Davis and APHEDA and Jemma Williams from AFTINET to discuss the impact of free trade on development.