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AFTINET submission to the India - Australia Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement

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.

US authorities challenge India’s Sun Pharmaceuticals’ generic drug quality

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.

El Salvador government arrests key activists who defeated OceanaGold ISDS case

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.

Australian Agriculture Minister flies to London as Lords debate the Australia – UK FTA

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.”

Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) negotiations Brisbane, plus AFTINET public forum recording

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.

Community groups slam delay on TRIPS waiver inclusion of Covid-19 treatments and tests

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.

Explainer article on the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF)

December 9, 2022: The Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) is a US initiative to diversify US supply chains away from China towards US allies and create US-based rules in the region.

Dr Patricia Ranald's explainer article analyses why IPEF challenges the Albanese government’s policies on trade transparency, enforceable labour and environmental standards and regional stability.

Why the WTO TRIPS Council must extend patents waiver to COVID-19 tests and treatments

December 6, 2022: Today the World Trade Organisation Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights Council (WTO TRIPS Council) is meeting in Geneva to discuss the proposal from developing countries to extend the June WTO decision to waive some patent rights for COVID vaccines to cover COVID treatments and tests. This would expand access to treatments and tests to millions of people in low-income countries.

Associate Professor Deborah Gleeson and colleagues presented the evidence for expanding the waiver in this Conversation article: