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US has withdrawn threatened Chinese tariff increases, but details of full deal not published

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.

WTO not dead yet: alternative appeals body set up, but fundamental change needed

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.

New NAFTA deal signed without longer medicine monopolies and with stronger labour rights

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.

Uruguay investment agreement endorsement underlines undemocratic process for trade deals

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.

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