February 8, 2023: The World Health Organization (WHO)’s first or ‘zero-draft’ for a treaty on pandemic prevention, preparedness and response would commit Member States to support temporary waivers of World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules for 20-year monopolies on pandemic related products. This would enable developing countries to scale up manufacturing of cheaper products, and increase the availability of affordable pandemic-related products.
February 6, 2022:This revision of the ASEAN agreement (AANZFTA) was begun under the Morrison coalition government and Labor Trade Minister Farrell announced on November 14 that in-principle agreement has been reached on most issues. The text will not be released until after it is finalised. The RCEP and CPTPP texts are being used as models. The provisions on corporate rights to sue governments (Investor-State Dispute Settlement or ISDS) arrangements are still being reviewed.
January 30, 2023: The previous Coalition government initiated a scoping negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement with the UAE, comprising the following emirates: Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al-Quwain, and Fujairah and Ras Al Khaimah, and with the Gulf Cooperation Council, which includes Saudi Arabia and Qatar. AFTINET made a submission to the previous government in April 2022 arguing that both negotiations should not proceed because of gross violation of human rights and labour rights in these countries.
January 25, 2023: The India-Australia Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (AI-CECA) negotiations are due to begin in late January 2023 and are expected to finish by June. The interim agreement, which was negotiated by the previous government, mainly dealt with trade in goods and services, and movement of temporary workers. The comprehensive negotiations will deal with issues like labour rights, environmental standards, digital trade, intellectual property and government procurement.
January 24, 2023: Australia’s ABC News has reported that the US Food and Drug Administration has claimed that it found sub-standard production processes of generic medicines at Sun Pharmaceutical Industries’ production facility at Halol, Gujrat. The FDA does not accept the company’s response as adequate, and could block the entry of its products into the USA.
January 23, 2023: On January 20, 251 organisations including AFTINET, from 29 countries, called on the Salvadoran government to drop spurious murder charges against five leading Water Defenders arrested on January 11, 2023. The five arrested are Miguel Ángel Gámez, Alejandro Laínez García, Pedro Antonio Rivas Laínez, Antonio Pacheco, and Saúl Agustín Rivas Ortega, from the Santa Marta community in the north of the country. They now face six months of pre-trial detention.
January 17, 2023: Australian Agriculture Minister Senator Murray Watt flew to London this week to shore up support for the Australia-UK Free Trade Agreement, which is being debated in the UK parliament and is still to be ratified by the Sunak Conservative Government.
Minister Watts tweeted: “I’m in London & Berlin to advocate for Aus ag. With National Farmers President Fiona Simson in a joint Govt-industry push for: ratification of the Aus-UK FTA; a good deal in the Aus-EU FTA & promotion of Australia’s sustainable ag credentials.”
January 9, 2023: Just prior to Christmas, on the night of December 22, 2022, the Chilean Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed that the instrument of ratification of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP or TPP-11) was deposited in New Zealand.
December 16, 2022: IPEF negotiators from 14 Indo-Pacific countries met in Brisbane from December 10-15. They include the United States, Australia, Brunei, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
IPEF is a US initiative to diversify its supply chains away from China towards its allies and create US-style rules in the region. It is not a traditional trade agreement with binding commitments because the US is not offering any more access to its own markets, but relying on investment projects as incentives, especially for developing countries. The US is chairing most negotiations and pushing for quick agreements.
The Labor government’s policy on trade transparency promises more transparent and accountable trade negotiations, including access to negotiating texts and independent evaluation of costs and benefits of trade agreements.
Media Release December 15, 2022: The same dynamics that slowed and watered down the decision on the initial TRIPS waiver at the World Trade Organization (WTO) now look likely to prevent a timely decision on expanding the waiver to cover treatments and tests. Calls for an extension to the original deadline of 17 December 2022 being led by the EU, Switzerland, Japan and the UK have been slammed by an alliance of health, human rights and fair-trade organisations.