August 26, 2020: The Melbourne Age has reported that Clive Palmer’s Singapore-based company, established in 2019, could use foreign investor rights in the Singapore-Australia free trade agreement to claim billions in compensation because the WA government passed legislation terminating a legal dispute over an iron ore project, which had been running since 2012.
August 25, 2020: The Australia-Singapore Digital Economy Agreement was signed on August 6 and the text was tabled in Parliament on August 24, which triggers an inquiry by the joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT).
MEDIA RELEASE Monday August 24, 2020
“It is disgraceful that Europeans know more than Australians about our trade negotiations because the Australian government refuses to release the text of trade agreements until after they are signed,” AFTINET Convener Dr Patricia Ranald said today.
August 18, 2020: The Guardian (UK) has reported a series of law firms advising clients to use Investor-State Dispute Settlement clauses in trade and investment agreements to “recover or prevent loss resulting from COVID-19-related government actions”.
August 17, 2020: Dr Patricia Ranald’s Conversation article today argues for an end to secrecy and a more open and democratically accountable trade process. AFTINET will give evidence on August 24 to a Joint Standing Committee on Treaties hearing into the trade agreement process.
August 14, 2020: A short but growing list of countries are now signing pre-order contracts with pharmaceutical manufacturers for possible COVID-19 vaccines, which could leave behind most of the world’s population in 2021.
August 12, 2020: The Japanese Foreign Minister, Toshimitsu Motegi, and the UK Trade Secretary, Liz Truss met in person in London last week to finalise the proposed UK-Japan Free Trade Agreement, Media reports said that the major issues were settled and Secretary Truss expected the deal to be finalised by the end of August. The UK also wants FTAs with the EU, Australia, the USA, and New Zealand.
August 6, 2020: Darell Leiking, Malaysia’s former minister of international trade and industry and MP for Penampang has confirmed that on November 29, 2019, the government decided that it had made the right decision in not ratifying the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). This was based on a one-year research effort, which had found potential negative impacts on domestic industry.
AFTINET criticised the lack of human rights and labour rights in China when ChAFTA was first proposed. Trade and diplomatic tensions between China and Australia have since increased in the context of the US-China trade wars. However, some cooperation continues through international institutions like the WHO and the WTO, which is essential in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. AFTINET will not be drawn into cold war rhetoric but will continue our criticism of the lack of human rights and labour rights in China, and of those provisions in the ChAFTA that are not in the interests of workers and communities in Australia and China.