For companies and consumers in Australia, the U.S., and throughout the world, greater growth is crucial. Increasing economic opportunity, and meeting the G20 goal set last year of at least 2 percent economic growth, is linked to rapid action on trade and investment. The first order of business should be implementing the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in 2016 and pressing ahead with other major agreements, such as the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and the recently mooted EU-Australia free trade accord.
Today, economic opportunity is handicapped by low growth rates in many parts of the world. Last year’s global growth rate was one of the slowest this century. Connected to the economic weakness is an even more dramatic decline in the rate of growth of global trade. In the 25 years before the 2008 global financial crisis, trade grew at about 6 percent a year. Since 2011, the growth rate has fallen to about 3 percent. This dry data translates to diminished opportunities and lower relative living standards for billions of people.