Campaigns

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 February 2017, with the aim 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.

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 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, The  government has not presented the legislation, because Labor, Greens and NXT Senators  have a majority and do not support it.

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

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

Updated: February 2017

 

PACER-Plus

PACER-plus is a trade agreement being negotiated between Australia, New Zealand and 14 Pacific Island countries. Negotiations have been ongoing since 2009 but missed their 2016 deadline. Talks are ongoing in 2017.

PNG, the largest PI economy, has withdrawn from the negotiations, citing a lack of economic benefits. Fiji has since announced that it does not agree with the final text. PNG and Fiji are the two largest Pacific Island economies, so the value of the deal is questionable without them. 


MAJOR ISSUES:

Australia and New Zealand are driving the agenda and want lower tariffs for their exports and more rights for foreign investors. No formal ISDS, but more investment protection through local courts.

Pacific Islands want a development agenda, including special and differential treatment for their tariffs and guaranteed seasonal workers schemes in Australia and New Zealand. The latter have been implemented, but are not part of the legally binding agreement.

Pacific Islands want additional aid and development funds, also concerned about the impact of loss of tariff income on government revenues.

See the June Pacific Island civil society Social Impact Statement on PACER-Plus which analyses leaked documents to show that PACER-Plus would have negative impacts for Pacific Islanders on local employment, government revenue and access to services, health outcomes and food security.


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 in 2017.


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.