January 13, 2020: Noah Smith recently reported on a debate about US trade policy at an American Economic Association meeting that showed more economists are criticising the “cosy consensus” on corporate-dominated free trade agreements.
January 7, 2020: Aura Energy Ltd, an Australian company also listed in the UK, has lodged a claim under the Energy Charter Treaty (ECT) for US 1.8 billion compensation from the Swedish government because in 2018 it decided to phase out uranium mining for environmental reasons.
January 6, 2020: The global response to Australian bushfires suggest that Australia will face strong international pressure to increase its action on climate change, including by transitioning away from fossil fuels.
December 19, 2019: In a reported ‘Phase One’ agreement with China, the US has agreed to ditch its threatened new tariffs of $156 billion on Chinese goods, and has reduced but not removed existing tariffs. In return, China has agreed to buy more US agricultural exports and change its trade practices in the areas of intellectual property, technology transfer, agriculture, financial services and currency.
December 18, 2019: For the past two years the US Trump administration has imposed unilateral tariffs outside of the rules of the 164-member World Trade Organisation. The WTO, although it has many flaws, is the only multilaterally-agreed rules-based trading system. WTO rules are enforceable through government-to-government disputes, heard by disputes panels whose initial decisions can be appealed to ensure they conform with WTO rules.
December 17, 2019: Following labour and civil society campaigns over the past two years, the US, Canada and Mexico have signed an amended US Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA) which eliminates longer medicine monopolies that would have delayed access to cheaper medicines. The amendments also include stronger protection for labour rights.
December 10, 2019: 278 community organisations and trade unions, including AFTINET, have released an open letter demanding reform of the Energy Charter Treaty (ECT) so that it does not undermine action to address climate change.
December 9, 2019: 94 community organisations from Asia Pacific countries demand details of giant RCEP trade deal before signing
December 4, 2019: The government announced that a new Bilateral Investment Agreement between Uruguay and Australia was signed on April 5, 2019. As is the usual practice, the text was tabled in parliament only after signing, and the agreement was reviewed by the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT), which reported on December 3. Since the government has a majority on the committee, the report recommended that the government ratify the agreement. The previous 2002 Uruguay-Australia bilateral agreement will be terminated when this agreement enters into force.