January 23, 2023: On January 20, 251 organisations including AFTINET, from 29 countries, called on the Salvadoran government to drop spurious murder charges against five leading Water Defenders arrested on January 11, 2023. The five arrested are Miguel Ángel Gámez, Alejandro Laínez García, Pedro Antonio Rivas Laínez, Antonio Pacheco, and Saúl Agustín Rivas Ortega, from the Santa Marta community in the north of the country. They now face six months of pre-trial detention.
January 17, 2023: Australian Agriculture Minister Senator Murray Watt flew to London this week to shore up support for the Australia-UK Free Trade Agreement, which is being debated in the UK parliament and is still to be ratified by the Sunak Conservative Government.
Minister Watts tweeted: “I’m in London & Berlin to advocate for Aus ag. With National Farmers President Fiona Simson in a joint Govt-industry push for: ratification of the Aus-UK FTA; a good deal in the Aus-EU FTA & promotion of Australia’s sustainable ag credentials.”
January 9, 2023: Just prior to Christmas, on the night of December 22, 2022, the Chilean Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed that the instrument of ratification of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP or TPP-11) was deposited in New Zealand.
December 16, 2022: IPEF negotiators from 14 Indo-Pacific countries met in Brisbane from December 10-15. They include the United States, Australia, Brunei, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
IPEF is a US initiative to diversify its supply chains away from China towards its allies and create US-style rules in the region. It is not a traditional trade agreement with binding commitments because the US is not offering any more access to its own markets, but relying on investment projects as incentives, especially for developing countries. The US is chairing most negotiations and pushing for quick agreements.
The Labor government’s policy on trade transparency promises more transparent and accountable trade negotiations, including access to negotiating texts and independent evaluation of costs and benefits of trade agreements.
Media Release December 15, 2022: The same dynamics that slowed and watered down the decision on the initial TRIPS waiver at the World Trade Organization (WTO) now look likely to prevent a timely decision on expanding the waiver to cover treatments and tests. Calls for an extension to the original deadline of 17 December 2022 being led by the EU, Switzerland, Japan and the UK have been slammed by an alliance of health, human rights and fair-trade organisations.
December 9, 2022: The Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) is a US initiative to diversify US supply chains away from China towards US allies and create US-based rules in the region.
Dr Patricia Ranald's explainer article analyses why IPEF challenges the Albanese government’s policies on trade transparency, enforceable labour and environmental standards and regional stability.
December 6, 2022: Today the World Trade Organisation Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights Council (WTO TRIPS Council) is meeting in Geneva to discuss the proposal from developing countries to extend the June WTO decision to waive some patent rights for COVID vaccines to cover COVID treatments and tests. This would expand access to treatments and tests to millions of people in low-income countries.
Associate Professor Deborah Gleeson and colleagues presented the evidence for expanding the waiver in this Conversation article: https://theconversation.com/intellectual-property-waiver-for-covid-vaccines-should-be-expanded-to-include-treatments-and-tests-194918
November 22, 2022: Enabling legislation for the Australia-UK FTA (AUKFTA) and the Interim Australia-India Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (AIECTA) was tabled in parliament on October 27 and was passed on November 22. The Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT) Report on the AUKFTA was tabled on November 17 and the Interim India JSCOT Report on November 18, leaving little time for them to be considered by parliament. The government made statements urging the quick passage of the legislation. Both reports recommended in favour of the enabling legislation, but they reflected some of AFTINET’s concerns. See our JSCOT submissions here and here.
Our preference was for these issues to be addressed before the enabling legislation, but failing this we have asked the government to address these issues in the reviews of the AUKFTA which are scheduled in the next two years, and in the negotiations for a more comprehensive Economic and Trade Cooperation Agreement with India which is due to be negotiated next year.