August 19, 2022: The interim IACEPA was negotiated under the previous government in haste and without consultation with civil society organisations.. Some of its provisions are not consistent with the current government’s policy. The interim agreement contains only 14 chapters out of a possible 20 or 30 chapters and commits to negotiations for a comprehensive agreement which would include further chapters.
August 16, 2022: Yesterday the Australian and Victorian governments announced a 10 year contract for public funding for pharmaceutical company Moderna to partner with Monash University to produce mRNA vaccines in Australia.
The manufacturing project aims to protect Australians against future pandemics, support local industry and create highly skilled local jobs, all of which are welcome goals. The project follows a separate research initiative of Monash University and the Doherty Institute which is conducting clinical trials for a new generation vaccine designed to protect against the Omicron variant.
The Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network (AFTINET) is a network of community groups and individuals that campaigns for fair trade based on human rights, labour rights and environmental sustainability (see www.aftinet.org.au).
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August 10, 2022: Patricia Ranald's article in The Guardian argues that the Labor government should resist threats from international energy companies to use special legal rights in some trade agreements to sue for billions if they take action to safeguard energy supplies or phase out fossil fuels. These rights enable companies sue the federal government if a change in law or policy reduces their profits, even if the change is in the public interest, known as Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS).
MEDIA RELEASE August 9, 2022: National fair trade, public health, human rights and aid and development organisations have written to the Trade Minister and other relevant ministers urging them to take further action to address the continuing shocking global inequity of access to Covid 19 vaccines treatments and other products. While over 80% of people in Australia have had two vaccination, and treatments are now available, only 20% in low income countries have had one vaccination and there is even less access to treatments.
However the government is proceeding with the very limited Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT) review process for the Indian and UK agreements which were signed by the previous government before the election. AFTINET raised the process issues in our submission on the UK FTA and will raise them in our submission on the India FTA.
July 29, 2022: Investigate Europe reports that key EU governments still want to leave the Energy Charter Treaty because its rules, known as Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) permit fossil fuel companies to sue governments for billions if they decide to phase out fossil fuel use as part of the EU’s climate pledges.
Media release July 26, 2022: Ministers from 14 member countries of the Indo Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) are meeting virtually in Washington on July 26 and 27. IPEF includes the US, Australia, Brunei, India, Indonesia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and Fiji.
July 20, 2022 :New polling commissioned by UK groups Trade Justice Movement and Global Justice Now has found that 78 per cent of Britons want MPs to debate the pros and cons of new trade deals before they come into force. The House of Commons trade committee has requested the Trade Minister for a full debate before ratification, and criticised its inability to scrutinise the deal properly. This followed an independent report from the Trade and Agriculture Commission confirming that the trade deal will affect employment in the farm and food sectors and could lower environmental, food safety, and animal welfare standards.