September 7, 2020: The Australian Greens have called for the Australia – Hong Kong Free Trade Agreement, which came into force on January 17, 2020, to be reviewed by a Senate Committee following the imposition by the central government in Beijing of the National Security Law, but the government and the Labor Opposition blocked the move.
September 3, 2020: The second-largest damages claim awarded to a foreign investor against a government was US$5.8 billion, in July 2019, to the Australian subsidiary of Tethyan Copper Company against the government of Pakistan. Canadian academic Kyla Tienhaara argued in an article in the Conversation that this Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) ruling demonstrated that the global economic governance model is broken.
September 1, 2020: A new report by the Netherlands-based Transnational Institute reveals a rush of international arbitration cases against Latin American states by international investors during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some cases relate to pandemic control measures, and others to ongoing cases.
August 31, 2020: The official statement from the on-line meeting on August 27 of 15 Trade Ministers negotiating the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership said that they were "pleased with the significant progress made towards finalizing the RCEP Agreement for signing at the fourth RCEP Summit in November 2020,” and that “the RCEP remains open for India”.
August 27, 2020: Initial commitments by university-based vaccine developers and the World Health Organisation to provide COVID-19 vaccines to all manufacturers without paying high monopoly prices have been overwhelmed by the pharmaceutical industry’s absolute commitment to intellectual property rights, according to a report in Fortune Magazine.
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.