China FTA

Poll shows 61% of voters reject investor rights to sue governments (ISDS)

July 7, 2015: This Essential Media poll released today shows voters across the political spectrum reject the inclusion of ‪‎ISDS clauses in the ‪TPP. The question was specific to the TPP but could also be an indication of views about ISDS in the China FTA.

Overall, 61% think that foreign companies should not be able to sue the Government for losses due to changes in policy and only 10% think they should. 

68% of Greens voters, 66% of Liberal/National voters and 58% of Labor voters  think they should not be able to sue.

Trade agreement benefits unproven and ISDS dangerous, says Productivity Commission

24th June 2015:Peter Martin reports in the  Sydney Morning Herald that The Productivity Commission has launched a scathing attack on Australia's latest series of free trade agreements, saying they grant legal rights to foreign investors not available to Australians, expose the government to potentially large unfunded liabilities and add extra costs on businesses attempting to comply with them.

The Productivity Commission is a statutory body which does research on economic policy and is generally in favour of free trade.

Leaks about the text of the Trans Pacific Partnership suggested it will "include obligations on pharmaceutical price determination arrangements in Australia and other TPP members of an uncertain character and intent... The history of intellectual property arrangements being addressed in preferential trade deals is not good." 

Take action on the China FTA

The text of the China FTA  was tabled in Parliament on June 17, 2015, and has been reviewed by the Joint Standing Committee onTreaties which reported on October 19.  See AFTINET submission hereand our analysis of the JSCOT report here. The Senate Foreign Affairs Defence and Trade Committee review will report in November.

Parliament will vote on the implementing legislation for the  China FTA in November. There is  strong public opposition  because there are special arrangements for Chinese companies investing more than A$150 million to import many temporary workers without testing if local workers are available, and it will allow Chinese companies to sue the Australian government in international tribunals over changes in domestic legislation (ISDS).

See the specific sections of the Agreement about temporary workers and the  AFTINET fact sheet on workers' rights and ISDS in the China FTA.

October 14: The ALP proposed amendments to the Migration Act  would provide some protections for the rights of both temporary workers and  local workers and would apply to all trade agreements, including the China FTA and future agreements. AFTINET supports amendments to the Migration Act that would protect workers' rights. We still oppose  the inclusion of ISDS and other aspects of the China FTA. See our latest briefing paper here.

October 21:  following negotiations with the Government, the ALP announced that they had reached a compromise for changes to the regulations of the Migration Act, rather than the act itself.   See the AFTINET analysis here. There is a continuing  campaign of local public meetings in marginal electorates across the countryin October- November.

AFTINET ABC Radio interview: foreign investors could sue over food labelling

June 10, 2015:The Federal Government is investigating how country of origin labels on food can prevent the type of health scare caused by the Hepatitis A outbreak earlier this year, which was blamed on frozen berries from China.But the Government is facing the risk of being sued by foreign companies if these new labelling laws aren't brought in before two major trade deals come into effect.

Trade Minister accused of conflict of interest over new food labelling laws

March 25, 2015: The Greens, Public Health groups and AFTINET explain that proposed new labelling rules in response to the contaminated berries scandal could result in foreign companies using ISDS in the Korea, China or Trans-Pacific trade agreements to sue the government for damages if their profits are reduced.  See the feature article in the Sydney Morning Herald and other Fairfax papers here  

 

Foreign owners of power poles and wires could use ISDS to sue over regulation

March 23, 2015: Professor Sharon Beder writes in  the Sydney Morning Herald that the sale of NSW poles and wires to foreign owners would enable them to use ISDS in trade agreements like the China FTA or the TPP to sue the government for damages in an international tribunal if it introduced regulation which "harmed" their investment.

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