Overview

Negotiations for a Peru-Australia free trade agreement (PAFTA) began in May 2017. The deal was signed on February 12, 2018. The text was released and the first JSCOT inquiry on the implementing legislation reported on August 22, 2018.

Australia and Peru are both part of Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP-11) negotiations, and much of the bilateral agreement duplicates the TPP-11, includng provisions for foreign investors to bypass national courts and sue governments in international tribunals (ISDS). The Australian government claimed that the Peru FTA is gives better market access for some Australian exports than could be  achieved under the TPP-11.

The Labor Opposition policy was opposed to ISDS and was also concerned about unnecessary duplication of agreements. It delayed the passage of the enabling legislation pending a second JSCOT inquiry to consider those issues.

The second inquiry reported in November 2018 and the government majority recommended in favour of the agreement, with critical comments from Labor and Greens, which together with the Centre Alliance could have blocked the implementing legislation in the Senate. Labor maintained its opposition to the agreement until after the May 2019 federal election.

The government then bundled together the enabling legislation for the Peru , Hong Kong and Indonesia agreements and after a fierce internal debate, the majority in the Labor caucus agreed to support the enabling legislation.

The  legislation was passed by the Australian Parliament in October 2019 and the agreement has been ratified by both governments.

AFTINET’s submissions to both JSCOT Inquiries advocated against including harmful TPP-like provisions, including clauses that entrenched monopoly  rights on medicines and copyright, restricted other forms of public interest legislation and allowed foreign investors to bypass national courts and sue governments in international tribunals (ISDS).

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Updated January 2020