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.
December 3, 2019: A new article in the Australian suggests that the government may delay its response to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) digital platforms inquiry report amid strong lobbying from the tech industry.
December 3, 2019: Japan’s Deputy Minister for Economy, Trade and Industry, Hideki Makihara, has stated that Japan is "not thinking at all" about a Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) deal without India, calling into question the future of the deal.
December 2, 2019: Deborah James argues that, 20 years after huge protests surrounded the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Ministerial meeting in Seattle, promises of prosperity and job creation remain unfulfilled.