AMWU says rush to FTA could cost Australian jobs

The AMWU has again spoken out against current free trade agreement negotiations, with national president Andrew Dettmer saying that setting deadlines put Australia in a position of weakness and saying a “comprehensive analysis” was essential before any FTA was signed.

The union has claimed that prime minister Tony Abbott’s eagerness to sign an FTA with China could endanger jobs.

Trade negotiations between Australia and China have been underway since April 2005, The Australian reports.

Abbott said earlier this week that an eventual agreement would ideally be as comprehensive as possible, “But I have always taken the view that you should take what you can get today and pitch for the rest tomorrow, when you have a strong foundation to build upon

Dettmer has said that benefits from trade agreements were generally overstated, and caution was wise, as Australia did not enjoy a level playing field.

"Australia, unlike most of our trading partners, has an open economy and few barriers to imported goods,” the union leader said in a statement.

"This makes it difficult for Australian manufacturers who often face unfair barriers when they try to export.”

"This applies to a deal with China or any other country. Trying to set deadlines for agreements just weakens our negotiating position.

"Australia should only sign a free trade deal after a comprehensive analysis that shows it benefits Australia and Australian workers.”