Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)

The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) is a massive free trade agreement involving Australia, the US and ten other countries, which reduces our democratic rights while increasing the rights of global corporations. 

The TPP is bad for:

  • Democracy. It allows global corporations to sue governments over health, environment and public interest laws. Read more.
  • Health. Medicines will be more expensive because of stronger monopoly rights for pharmaceutical companies to charge higher prices for longer. Read more.
  • Workers. Contains no real protection for labour rights or migrant workers, and removes labour market testing. Read more.
  • The environment. Lacks enforceable commitments to key international agreements, does not mention climate change and allows corporations to sue over new environmental laws. Read more.
  • Internet users. Locks in strong rights for copyright holders at the expense of consumers and internet users. Read more.

Despite all the downsides of the deal, economists and the World Bank predict few benefits for Australia. 

The Turnbull Government will try to rush the TPP’s implementing legislation through Parliament this year, to pave the way for Australia to ratify the agreement. But Labor, Greens and independent representatives could block the deal by voting against its implementing legislation in the Senate. 

For all the latest news on the TPP, follow this link.

For in-depth analysis and resources, including AFTINET’s JSCOT submission and our printable TPP flyer, click here. 


What is the RCEP?

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is being negotiated between the 10 ASEAN countries, plus China, Japan, India, Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

The next negotiations are scheduled in October and December 2016, with the aim to finish mid-2017.



ISDS TPP-like proposals: India and some ASEAN countries are resisting this and want more exclusions for public interest regulation.

Stronger medicine monopolies: Japan and Korea have tabled TPP-like proposals.

Tariffs: India resisting zero tariffs

Movement of temporary workers: India and Australia want separate chapter with wider coverage, others want more limited arrangements through the trade in services chapter.

Trade with Indonesia: key issues

The India-Australia FTA (known as the Australia-India Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement or AICECA) negotiations are now on hold, with the aim to resume late 2016.

Major issues:

ISDS and tariffs: Australia wants TPP model of ISDS, but India wants more limited version.: Also reluctant to move to zero tariffs.

Temporary migrant workers: India is seeking expansion of temporary workers with less labour market testing and other changes to student visas and computer-related service providers.

Trade agreements in progress

In the last two years the Australian Government has finalised bilateral trade agreements with ChinaKorea and Japan, which are now in force. The Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement is currently being reviewed by a parliamentary committee before its implementing legislation is put to a vote. Australia is currently involved in multilateral negotiations towards PACER-plus, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and the Trade In Services Agreement (TISA). It is also negotiating bilateral trade agreements with India and Indonesia and will begin talks with Hong Kong and Taiwan later this year and the EU next year.

Korea-Australia Free Trade Agreement (KAFTA)

The KAFTA Implementing legislation was passed on October 1, 2014 and the agreement came into force on December 12, 2014. AFTINET oppose this agreement because it was negotiated in secret, included special rights for foreign investors to sue governments over domestic legislation (ISDS), removed labour market testing for temporary migrant workers and contained only weak labour and environmental standards which were not enforceable. The tariff reductions were unbalanced and the economic study did not take account of employment impacts in manufacturing industry. See AFTINET's submission to Parliamentary inquiries here.

World Trade Organisation

The WTO aims to liberalise international trade in goods and services, through removing tariffs, restricting or removing government regulation, and by increasing intellectual property rights. The WTO has attracted widespread criticism and protest for the neo-liberal free market policies that it promotes, along with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. The neo-liberal model of development has encouraged the growth of free trade zones in developing countries, based on poor working conditions and low environmental standards, promoting a race to the bottom to attract investors. AFTINET believes that the WTO should develop a fair multilateral trade system which enables governments to regulate in the public interest, gives real recognition to the needs of developing countries and is based on United Nations agreements on human rights, labour rights and the environment.