UK and Canada at “huge financial risk” from ISDS provisions in CPTPP

26 October, 2023: The UK has recently joined the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), its largest trade agreement since Brexit. However, campaigners have warned that controversial Investor-State Dispute (ISDS) provisions in the CPTPP will mean that Canadian investors will be able to sue the UK, and vice versa, if they can argue that a change in law or policy could reduce their future profits. This will leave both countries vulnerable to costly lawsuits.

US COVID TRIPS report released but fails to move TRIPS waiver extension negotiations forward

25 October, 2023: World Trade Organisation (WTO) negotiations which commenced more than 3 years ago on temporarily waiving some intellectual property rules for COVID products like vaccines, treatments and tests have hit multiple roadblocks.  Most recently a decision has been delayed in anticipation of a report commissioned by the US. The report, released earlier this month, has been criticised for failing to add anything new to the conversation or definitively state the US’ position. Despite hopes it would create a pathway to resolving negotiations, it seems likely that a much needed decision on whether to extend a temporary waiver on intellectual property rules for COVID vaccines to other products may be further delayed past the next WTO Ministerial meeting in February 2024.

Background

Lack of labour and environment commitments in India-UK FTA rings alarm bells for future India-Australia deal

24 October, 2023: It seems increasingly likely that the UK and India will sign a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) by the end of October. However, the agreement is reported to not contain legally enforceable commitments on labour rights or environmental standards, possibly indicating similar deficiencies in the upcoming India-Australia FTA.

Despite push to water down provisions in WHO Pandemic Agreement, the latest draft retains key provisions

20 October, 2023 (updated 23 October, 2023): The latest draft of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Pandemic Agreement was released earlier this week. There were concerns it would continue the trend of weakening provisions that we have seen through previous iterations of the agreement. Public health advocates have celebrated the retention of key commitments, notably to waive some intellectual property rules during pandemics, but remain worried about the vague language and weak enforceability of the draft agreement.

AFTINET 2023 AGM: Wednesday 8 November 5.30-7pm

Special Guest Speaker

 Clare Middlemas, Senior International Officer at the Australian Council of Trade Unions

What changes are needed to trade policy to support workers’ rights and the just transition to a low carbon economy?

Clare has over a decade’s experience in the trade union movement representing workers at the state, national and international levels. Clare works on issues of worker and human rights in Australia and around the world, including trade and investment, international labour standards, labour migration, and business and human rights.

 

To attend please register here: https://forms.gle/NAemQt7sLkPsCy4K6

IPEF negotiations: Maori demand direct representation and comprehensive protections for rights of Indigenous peoples

19 October, 2023: Despite requests, Māori Indigenous peoples have said in the recently released Ngā Toki Whakarururanga position paper that they that they have been denied direct independent sovereign representation in negotiations in the Indo-Pacific Economic Forum negotiations that are currently underway.

‘Business as usual’ mining practices for critical minerals threatens to undermine Indigenous peoples’ rights

9 October, 2023: Last week the Philippine Supreme Court ordered two mining companies to cease operations at a nickel mine and ordered concerns raised by the Pala’wan Indigenous community be addressed. The Pala’wan community have fought since 2005 against plans to mine nickel in an environmentally protected area of cultural significance.

Critical minerals, such as nickel, lithium, cobalt, copper and rare earths, are essential for technologies needed for a green transition, such as wind turbines, electricity infrastructure and batteries. However, the boom in demand and rush to mine has led to concerns that critical mineral mining will continue the association of extractive industries with human rights violations, particularly for indigenous peoples.

UN Special Rapporteur: ISDS has “catastrophic” impacts on environment and human rights

5 October, 2023: The UN Special Rapporteur on human rights related to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment, David Boyd, has released a report on that International-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS). It found that ISDS has been “weaponised” by international investors leading to the violation of human rights and undermining the rule of law.

ISDS is a special provision that allows foreign, but not local, investors to claim compensation if they can argue that a change in law or policy would reduce their future profits – even if the change is in the public interest.

Pressure for EU critical minerals investment must not risk indigenous rights, labour rights and the environment

4 October, 2023: Australian Resource Minister, Madeline King, commented last week that the EU might “miss the boat” on securing Australian critical minerals, amping up tensions in current EU-Australia Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations. Her comments come despite calls from experts to take a more deliberative approach to critical minerals that considers the potential risks to Indigenous peoples, labour rights and the environment.

Saturday Paper article: Clive Palmer’s use of ASEAN trade agreement to sue Australia for $340 billion scrutinised in trade policy inquiry

September 30, 2023: Dr Patricia Ranald’s article in the Saturday Paper explains how Clive Palmer has registered his company Zeph Investments in Singapore and is using the Australia-New Zealand-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement to make multiple claims against the Australian government of almost $340 billion. The claims concern a dispute over an iron ore mining lease in Western Australia, and the refusal of coal mining permits in Queensland for environmental reasons, including their contribution to increasing carbon emissions. 

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