Australia has just changed Prime Ministers. Yes all within the same party but with a different philosophy it seems. Yesterday we had a Conservative government. Today we have a Liberal one. And one reason the challenger Malcom Turnbull was successful in toppling the incumbent Prime Minister Tony Abbott was economics or so the victor claims. Malcolm Turnbull in his assault before the spill claimed that a political leader must always have an economic narrative, a story to tell and to explain to the public (again and again until it is understood).
Something happened in the Australian political scene when I was away last week. The issue of the Chinese Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA) hit fever pitch.
And guess where I was? I was in China. Specifically I was in Shanghai, Xian in North Western China and Hong Kong teaching an AGSM MBA programme and talking with various companies, both Australian and China about the stock market, the exchange rate and ChAFTA.
The Thais have always been good to Australia. Dr Supachai in 1994 strongly supported Australia and its inclusion in various regional institutions and APEC when others tried to exclude us. And in 2005 Thailand and Australia signed TAFTA that helped build our trade momentum into ASEAN and the rest of Asia. In fact in terms of numbers of companies exporting and other trade outcomes TAFTA has been more successful than the trade agreement Australia signed with the USA at the same time.
There has been political controversy over the Free Trade Agreements (especially with China) and the mooted regional Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). Dry economists on the right don’t like ‘trade distorting’ bilateral agreements (they don’t even like calling them ‘free trade’ agreements) whilst many on the left are concerned about trade agreements going too far, beyond reducing tariffs and quotas, and getting involved in social policy, labour standards and the provision of public goods.
We’ve recently seen the growth of sports economics in academia, government and industry. Why is this so? Is it just because economists are secret sports fans who all wish they were sports commentators/writers like Denis Cometti, Gideon Haigh or Caroline Wilson? That could be part of story, as many economists believe it or not are human, and just as susceptible to being sports junkies as the rest of us.
In the new era of globalisation sport has not only become big business in commercial terms but increasingly influential in international diplomacy as well. Australia made gains of $2 billion plus in trade and investment in the years between the Sydney Olympics in 2000 and London 2012 alone just from sports related business networking.
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