August 23, 2017: Bernard Keane in Crikey has summarised a recent Productivity Commission report that strongly criticises the Australian government’s approach to free trade agreements, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The report condemned Australia’s refusal to independently evaluate the supposed benefits of the TPP, its willingness to include investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS), and the secret nature of the negotiations.
Media Release August 18, 2017: “Trade Minister Ciobo should not be leading the charge to revive the Trans-Pacific Partnership, when there is strong community opposition and the Australian Parliament has not endorsed it,” AFTINET Convenor Dr Patricia Ranald aaid today.
August 16, 2017: So far the Seasonal Worker Programs for Pacific Island and Timor-Leste workers in Australia have been kept separate from trade agreements like PACER-Plus. Trade agreements are rigid and hard to change, but a stand-alone agreement such as the Seasonal Worker Program for horticultural workers, can be adjusted. As Nic Maclellan argues in his Development Policy article, there is strong evidence that significant change is needed.
August 14, 2017: Media Release: “Trade Minister Ciobo is wrong to suggest that the Queensland government procurement policy to give preference to small local suppliers contradicts Australia’s current trade agreements. All of these agreements have exceptions which allow some preference to small and medium-sized enterprises. South Australia and Victoria have similar policies, as do Australia’s trading partners like the US and South Korea,” AFTINET Convenor Dr Patricia Ranald said today.
This forum will examine how trade agreements like TiSA, the TPP and the RCEP promote deregulation, commercialisation and privatisation of services ranging from health, education and childcare, aged care and disability care to public transport, energy and water. It will also discuss strategies to defeat them.
August 9, 2017: Media Release: “The report of the government-dominated Joined Standing Committee on Treaties released yesterday on amendments to the Singapore FTA supports changes that are bad precedents for other trade agreements," Dr Patricia Ranald Convener of the Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network said today.
August 7, 2017. Media Release: “The Australian Fair Trade network of community groups condemns the attempt by the Coalition government to rush through implementing legislation for the WTO Government Procurement Agreement before the negotiations are even finished. This is like signing a blank cheque before the parliament knows the outcome of the negotiations and makes a mockery of the parliamentary process. The Parliament has never before passed implementing legislation for an unseen agreement,” AFTINET Convenor Dr Patricia Ranald said today.
August 3, 2017: Economist Smitha Francis’ article in the Indian journal Business Today has strongly criticised India’s continuing participation in the RCEP negotiations because of the challenge to India’s sovereignty from the proposed Investor-State Disputes Settlement process.