Towards a fair trade future
March 2, 2017: AFTINET’s submission to the Foreign Policy White Paper consultation process makes 13 key recommendations for improving Australia’s future trade agreements and trade agreement processes for fairer deals in the future:
- Prior to commencing trade negotiations, the Australian Government should table in Parliament a document setting out its priorities and objectives. The document should include independent assessments of the projected costs and benefits of the agreement. Such assessments should consider the economic, regional, social, cultural, regulatory and environmental impacts which are expected to arise.
- The Government should release its proposals and discussion papers during trade negotiations. Draft texts should be also released for public discussion, as occurs in the WTO and is now the practice in some EU negotiations.
- The final text should be released for public and parliamentary debate before it is authorised for signing.
- After the text is completed but before the decision is made to sign it, comprehensive independent studies of the likely economic, health and environmental impacts of the agreement should be undertaken and made public for public debate and review by parliamentary committees.
- Parliament should vote on the whole text of agreements, not just the implementing legislation.
- The Australian Government should not include Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) in trade agreements.
- There should be no extension of monopolies on medicines or copyright in trade agreements.
- Trade in services provisions in trade agreements should use a positive list to identify which services will be included in an agreement.
- Public services should be clearly and unambiguously excluded, and there should be no restrictions on the right of governments to provide and regulate services in the public interest.
- Governments should retain the right to regulate and introduce new regulation to meet service standards, and to meet health, environment, education or other public interest objectives.
- Trade agreements should require the adoption and implementation of agreed international standards on labour rights, enforced through the government-to-government dispute processes contained in the agreement.
- Trade agreements should require the adoption and implementation of applicable international environmental standards, including those contained within UN environmental agreements, enforced through the government-to-government dispute processes contained in the agreement.
- Temporary movement of workers other than senior executives and managers should not be included in trade agreements.