The initial 2020 AFTINET submission is here.
Australia was seeking more market access for its agricultural and services exports, and the danger is that longer medicine monopolies or other negative deregulatory concessions may be traded off to gain these. The UK is also seeking to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (CPTPP) which is being used as a model by both governments, and includes Investor rights to sue governments (ISDS). In June 2O21 the two governments announced an agreement in principle and confirmed that ISDS has been excluded. This was a victory for community campaigning.
The full text was not released until after it was signed on December 17, 2021.
AFTINET's initial media release after the text was released called for an independent assessment for the costs and benefits of the economic, environmental, health and gender impacts of the agreement,
AFTINET has analysed the 32 chapters of the text and made a submission to the review by the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties.
Key recommendations include:
- Comprehensive independent economic, environmental, health and gender impact assessments should be completed and made public before the enabling legislation and ratification of the A-UKFTA.
- Australia should ensure that any regional trade deals that may include the UK (for example, the CPTPP) should maintain the A-UKFTA’s exclusion of corporate rights to sue governments (ISDS).
- The Environment and Labour Chapters should be strengthened to ensure they are just as legally enforceable as other chapters.
- All commitments on labour rights, modern slavery and gender discrimination should be made hard commitments that are legally enforceable.
- Increased commitments made on trade in services and government procurement that could undermine government’s ability to regulate in the public interest should be reviewed and removed
- The entry of temporary workers should be based on the principle that they address genuine labour shortages evidenced by local labour market testing. Therefore, the government should revoke the removal of labour market testing for uncapped numbers of certain types of workers.