Australia and Hong Kong launched negotiations for a bilateral free trade agreement in May 2017.
Hong Kong already has zero tariffs levels on Australian goods exports, so this agreement is mainly about services and “non-tariff barriers.”
Australia already has a bilateral investment treaty with Hong Kong (1993), which includes investor rights to sue governments (ISDS). This is the treaty that Philip Morris tried to use to sue the Australian Government over the cigarette plain packaging laws.
See our submission to the August 2019 JSCOT inquiry here.
Our concerns include:
- cancellation of the 1993 Hong Kong investment treaty and exclusion of ISDS from any new agreement
- Trade in services: this could include restrictions on the ability of governments to regulate services in the public interest, including essential services like healthcare and education.
- Government procurement: governments should retain some policy flexibility to encourage local industry development and employment.
- Movement of temporary workers: temporary worker arrangements should never be included in trade agreements because this limits the ability of governments to adjust their policies to ensure workers are not exploited.
- The AFTINET submission to the August 2019 JSCOT inquiry is here
- Submission to DFAT on Australia-Hong Kong free trade agreement (AFTINET, May 2017)