Trade and Government Committee – A Snapshot
Article from Issue 4, Access Magazine
As Chairman of the AmCham Trade and Government Committee – the longest serving Association Committee – Patrick Fazzone of Montgomery Fazzone PLLC is justifiably proud of the work undertaken by the working group since the early 1990’s.
Responsible for developing and promoting AmCham policy on trade matters and liaising with Government on issues affecting members, the Trade and Government Committee has been closely involved in a number of landmark initiatives designed to promote trade and investment between Australia and the United States. Among the most notable is the Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA), which came into effect on 1 January 2005, effectively ensuring greater access to the United States market for Australian exports.
This Agreement enhances prospects for Australian goods and services trade, opens significant sectors of the U.S. government procurement market, improves the regulatory and overall investment environment between the two countries, and ultimately has led to far greater business mobility.
Another important international initiative of ongoing interest to the committee is the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum for 21 Pacific Rim member economies promoting free trade throughout the Asia-Pacific region.
Established in 1989 in response to the growing interdependence of Asia-Pacific economies, and the need for more practical trade facilitation in the region, APEC focuses on developing non-binding programs to simplify and promote trade among the member economies. The committee has closely monitored the activities of APEC, provided valuable information to AmCham members on developments and new initiatives and provided input to U.S. and Australian government departments on member priorities for APEC action. During the U.S. host year in 2011, Chairman Patrick Fazzone was invited to attend the APEC Trade Ministers’ meeting as part of the Australian business delegation.
One of the principal strengths of the Committee is the expertise and hands on experience of its various members, who come from a cross-section of industries. “The Committee provides members with ongoing expertise and exclusive access to thought leadership, communities of interest, policy advice, business advocacy, information, and relationships with business and government,” Fazzone says.
“We take a very pro-active approach to communication, ensuring that members have access to alerts and information relevant to their interests.
“Occasionally the Committee is asked to intervene or take a position on specific issues that can be contentious such as multinational tax laws, the viability of specific investments and more recently the protection of investors from expropriation. The rule of the Committee is that if there is a divergence in views among members on an issue, the Committee will not recommend AmCham taking a position,” adds Fazzone.
“In recent years, the Committee has been particularly focused and active regarding the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement recently signed by twelve Pacific Rim countries. The most ambitious and comprehensive free trade agreement ever negotiated, the TPP seeks to promote commerce and investment in the region in landmark ways and among a very diverse group of economies. Its goals include the promotion of economic growth; support the creation and retention of jobs; enhance innovation, productivity and competitiveness; raise living standards; reduce poverty in the countries involved; and promote transparency, good governance and enhanced labour and environmental protections. The agreement, which was seven years ‘in the making’ and has now been completed, is still to be ratified by the countries involved.
“The signing of the TPP was very much welcomed by the U.S. and Australian business communities. While, as in any trade agreement, there are some areas where greater commitments were sought by business, such as in the area of data exclusivity, AmCham members have been uniformly aligned on the importance of this trade agreement.”
Through Vice Chairman Geoff Short, the Committee has actively involved in connection with the establishment of the Australian Trusted Trader Alliance, a program that seeks to provide trade facilitation benefits to those businesses with strong security practices and a history of compliant behaviour.
“We like to believe that we are the ‘go-to’ committee on trade and investment within AmCham. We continually seek to provide members with support to help them grow their businesses efficiently and intelligently,” concludes Fazzone.
Patrick Fazzone specialises in sophisticated commercial transactions, corporate law, technology transfers and international trade law. His clients include U.S. and overseas private and quasi-governmental entities, including those in high technology industries.
Mr. Fazzone also provides advice and assistance on U.S. customs, export controls, and other international trade matters, and has served as Vice Chairman for Trade and APEC for the Asia Pacific Council of American Chambers of Commerce.
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