25 May 2018: Melinda St. Louis from Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch has published a summary of the recent United National Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) meeting on ISDS reform, which was dominated by private lawyers and arbitrators.
23 May, 2018: SBS news reported yesterday that the European Union has authorised negotiations for a free-trade agreement (FTA) between the EU and Australia, as well as the EU and New Zealand. Australian Trade Minister Steve Ciobo told SBS News that he hopes the FTA negotiations will commence ‘very soon’.
18 May 2018: A new book by Canadian writer Joyce Nelson, Bypassing Dystopia: Hope-filled Challenges to Corporate Rule, gives insight into the Canadian government’s dogged support of Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS). It has been reviewed by journalist Damien Gillis here.
17 May 2018: Business journalist Nic Maclellan has analysed the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCT) report into the PACER-Plus trade deal on Devpolicy blog. He writes, “although the committee recommends that Parliament should ratify PACER-Plus, the report is a telling critique of the treaty’. It concedes that ‘the absence of PNG and Fiji… significantly diminishes the utility of the agreement for Australian businesses’.
Media Release, May 14, 2018: “US President Donald Trump’s policy to end “freeloading” and force trading partners to increase prices they pay for US pharmaceutical exports is a direct threat to Australia’s policy of ensuring affordable medicines through our Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme,” AFTINET Convener Dr Patricia Ranald said today.
“This policy results from the US pharmaceutical companies absurd and unproven argument that if other governments abandon their affordable medicine policies and agree to higher prices, the companies would then lower their prices in the US. Both Canada and New Zealand have strongly rejected this push. There has so far been no reported response from the Turnbull government. We call on the government to reject this policy,” said Dr Ranald.
Media Release, May 9, 2014: “The Joint Standing Committee on Treaties Report on the PACER Plus trade deal between Australia New Zealand and nine Pacific Island countries admits that the absence of Papua New Guinea and Fiji ‘significantly diminishes’ the value of the deal,” AFTINET Convener Dr Patricia Ranald said today.
May 9, 2018: A Federal Court ruling in favour of US company Bilcon, which is seeking $500 million in damages from Canada, has prompted environmental groups to renew their calls for Canada to scrap ISDS in the NAFA renegotiation talks with the United States and Mexico.
May 8, 2018: According to an Inside US Trade report dated May 3, Investor-State Dispute Settlement is still a key issue at the current session of North American Free Trade Agreement talks between the US, Mexico and Canada. US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer appears determined to opt out of ISDS provisions, while big business groups are frantically lobbying to retain them.
4 May 2018: Today, several civil society groups have released a statement criticising their exclusion from the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) talks in Singapore this week.
While Transnational Corporations and business groups have been invited to discuss their interests and concerns at the Singapore round of talks, civil society groups have been silenced. The full statement, posted on bilaterals.org, is copied below.