Parliamentary committee to revisit Peru – Australia trade agreement: submissions due 2 November

29 October 2018: AFTINET welcomes the announced review of the Peru-Australia trade agreement (PAFTA), which shares with the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP-11) many harmful provisions. PAFTA was signed by the government in February 2018 and reported on by the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties in August 2018 (JSCOT).

AFTINET opposed the inclusion in PAFTA of harmful Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions that allow corporations to sue governments for regulating in the public interest.  We also objected to the confusion created by overlap with the TPP-11 and with the Pacific Alliance trade agreement (under negotiation). Peru is a member of both of these agreements.

Shadow Minister Jason Clare has persuaded the Trade Minister Birmingham to revisit the agreement, citing concerns about ISDS and about the increasing complexity created by multiple agreements with the same partner. The move reflects Labor’s recent announcement that the ALP would not pass legislation for future trade agreements containing ISDS, although whether they will vote against it remains to be seen, following their approval of the TPP-11. This will be the first test of the ALP’s new policy.

The deadlines for the review are very tight. Submissions are due on Friday 2 November, and there will be a public hearing in Melbourne on Thursday 8 November 2018, followed by the JSCOT report on Wednesday 21 November.

AFTINET has made a previous submission against PAFTA here.  Our submission to the second inquiry is here.