Five years after the US and Australia signed a historic free trade agreement, the application of the agreement - and its future - is being debated among experts from across the world gathered in Canberra this week.
Hosted by the University of Queensland's TC Beirne School of Law and funded by the Australian-American Fulbright Commission, the two-day 2009 Fulbright Symposium brings together academics and policymakers from various disciplines to discuss the impact of the US-Australia Free Trade Agreement.
According to Kimberlee Weatherall, conference organiser and TC Beirne School of Law academic, the event provides an opportunity to reassess the agreement in light of evolving conditions in international trade.
"The time is ripe to reflect on what has been gained and lost as a result of the Australia-US Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA), and on what lessons we can take from the agreement for other trade negotiations, and in future trade and other interactions between the US and Australia," she said.
Weatherall adds that when the agreement was signed five years ago, its supporters claimed its benefits would run into billions of dollars while its critics feared interference in domestic policy-making, an end to rules supporting local film and television productions, more expensive pharmaceuticals and further impediments to Australia's agricultural industries.
"Five years on, with the benefit of both time and experience, these hopes, fears and predictions are ripe for reassessment," she said.
Refer back to Lawyers Weekly for further coverage of this event.