Campaigns

Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)

TheTrans-Pacific Partnership (now the TPP-11) was  originally  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 US withdrew in 2017, and it became the TPP-11, with some changes, but most of its worst features remain.

The TPP-11 is bad  bad for:

  • Democracy. It allows global corporations to sue governments over health, environment and public interest laws. Read more.
  • Essential services:  locks in deregulation, promotes privatisation and prevents future governments from regulating in the public interest, Read more
  • Workers. Contains no real protection for labour rights or migrant workers, and removes labour market testing for vulnerable temporary migrant workers. 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.

Economists and the World Bank predicted The original TPP 12 would not deliver promised jobs and growth

After six years of community campaigning, the withdrawal of the US in January 2017 meant the TPP could not be implemented.

The Turnbull Government threatened to rush the TPP’s implementing legislation through Parliament  to get approval for a dead agreement. A Senate inquiry report  said no to the  implementing legislation in February 2017. 

TPP-11 rebadged as the CPTPP in 2018

But Japan and Australia led the pushed for a  revived TPP-11 without the US. In November 2017 TPP -11 negotiators rebadged the deal as the Comprehensive Progressive TPP (CPTPP) and suspended some of its most controversial clauses, (but not ISDS). The text was tabled in Parliament on March 26, 2018, triggering a Joint Standing Committee on Treaties Parliamentary Inquiry. Community campaigning also resulted in a Senate Inquiry before parliament votes on the implementing legislation in September. 

 See brief analysis here  media commentary here and our printable TPP-11 flyer here.

For in-depth analysis and resources, including AFTINET’s submissions to the Parliamentary Inquiries,  click here.

Updated: July 2018

PACER-Plus

The Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations - Plus (PACER-Plus) agreement between Australia, New Zealand and 12 Pacific Island countries was finalised in Brisbane in April 2017. PACER-plus negotiations began in 2009 with 14 Pacific Island countries involved in the talks. The deal was signed on June 14, 2017, but the two  largest economies,  Papua New Guinea and Fiji , representing 80% of the combined GDP of Pacific Island countries, did not sign. Both have said the agreement threatens their infant industries and would not benefit their economies. 

PACER Plus was tabled in the Australian parliament in November 2017 and was  reviewed by the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties which reported  on   May 9, 2018. Community groups made submissions recommending against implementation, pending independent assessments of the economic, environmental , health and gender impacts of the deal in Pacific Island countries. See the AFTINET submission  here  and the Committee Report here.  The report admitted that he absence of Fiji and PNG greatly diminished its significance,  that the main benefits would flow to Australia and New Zealand and that rapid removal of tariffs and services deregulation could harm small and vulnerable Pacific Island economies.Despite these admissions, the report recommended that the implementing legislation be approved. See AFTINET analysis here..

Trade with India: key issues

The India-Australia FTA (known as the Australia-India Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement or AICECA) negotiations are now on hold.


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.


Government should release Philip Morris plain packaging case costs

July 10, 2017: Media Release: “We welcome the international tribunal decision that Philip Morris tobacco company should pay the costs of its failed case against Australia’s 2011 plain packaging law. But it is absurd and unacceptable that the tribunal has not released the amount of the costs, which have been blacked out of the published decision,” Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network Convener Dr Patricia Ranald said today.

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 aim is to finish by the end of 2017.

 


MAJOR ISSUES

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 proposalsresisted by India and low income countries.

Movement of temporary workers: May be proposals for increased numbers of temporary workers without testing whether local workers are available. Read more here.

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.