Indonesia FTA and TiSA now top priorities

1 August 2016
 
With the TPP looking even less likely to pass through US Congress after the Democratic National Convention last week, Australian Trade Minister Steven Ciobo appears to be setting his sights on other trade deals.
 
He has changed his rhetoric around the TPP, telling the AFR today: "We don't put all our eggs in one basket. The TPP isn't the be-all and end-all of free trade.” 
 
Indonesia and TiSA now top priorities
 
Mr Ciobo is travelling to Indonesia today for round of bilateral trade talks and says the Indonesia Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement is now the first priority of the Government’s free trade agenda. 
 
However, it’s clear that it’s politics, not economics which is really driving the agenda. Former diplomat Alan Oxley told the AFR, "Normally it is heresy for a trade person like me to say we should do a trade agreement for political reasons but this is an exception.”
 
The Trade Minister also listed the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) as another major priority, saying that it was potentially one of the “biggest and most significant” trade deals in decades.
 
Trade agenda remains the same
 
It’s clear that despite the rising skepticism of the benefits of so-called free trade deals around the globe and in Australia, the Government’s ideologically-driven trade agenda remains the same.
 
Mr Ciobo also told the AFR he would "counter misinformation about the aggregate benefits that flow from free and liberalised trade.”
 
These words sound hollow coming from a Government which has consistently refused calls for more information and independent analysis from community groups including AFTINET, elected representatives like Nick Xenophon and even the conservative Productivity Commission.
 
You can read more about the seven current trade deals on the Coalition’s trade agenda here.