Increased calls for UK to exit Energy Charter Treaty following the EU’s decision to withdraw

19 September, 2023: Following failing efforts to ‘modernise’ the Energy Charter Treaty (ECT) and the EU Commission formal proposal to collectively exit the agreement, the UK is facing increasing pressure to withdraw from the ECT.

The ECT is a controversial 56-member investment agreement for the energy sector. It contains Investor-State Dispute Settlement provisions (ISDS), which enable foreign investors to sue governments for policy changes which could impact their investment.

AFTINET comments on the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) Supply Chain text

September 9, 2023: Negotiations for this text were completed in May and the text was released on September 8. The text may be signed in November 2023, after which it will be tabled in Parliament and reviewed by the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties. It could come into force in the first quarter of 2024.

The 14 IPEF members are the US, Australia, Brunei, India, Indonesia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Fiji and Vietnam. Three other pillars on trade, environment and tax and anti-corruption issues are still being negotiated.

Court-ordered release of South Africa COVID contracts show huge vaccine markup

7 September, 2023: On August 17, the South African NGO Health Justice Initiative won a huge victory when the Pretoria High Court ruled that South Africa had to make its COVID procurement contracts public.

Confidentiality clauses have prevented multiple governments from releasing the details of their COVID procurement contracts. The level of secrecy over medical contracts has been unprecedented, as pharmaceutical companies conditioned the release of COVID vaccines on governments signing non-disclosure agreements.

South Africa’s contracts, which were released yesterday, were described by Health Justice Initiative as “overwhelmingly one-sided” in favour of the pharmaceutical industry.

Southeast Asia strategy a chance to stop investors like Clive Palmer suing Australia for billions

September 6, 2023  AFTINET Media release 

Australia's Southeast Asia Economic Strategy to 2040 announced today will “review the scope of existing Free Trade Agreements to determine priorities for agreement upgrade negotiations.”

“This review is welcome news for those deeply disturbed by the fact that Clive Palmer moved some assets to Singapore, claims to be a Singaporean investor and is using investor rights to sue governments in the Australia-New Zealand-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement to sue the Australian government for a massive total of $337 billion,” Dr Patricia Ranald, AFTINET Convener said today.

AFTINET Submission to the CPTPP 5 Year Review: rights for corporations to sue governments and weak labour and environment standards

The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (CPTPP), a free trade agreement between 11 countries; Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, New Zealand, Singapore and Vietnam, has now been in force for 5 years. This milestone means the CPTPP has to undergo a 5-year post-implementation review, which considers the impacts of the agreement since it has come into force.

South African court orders Covid vaccine contracts to be made public after landmark case

22 August, 2023: The High Court in Pretoria, South Africa has ruled that Covid vaccine procurement contracts and related documents had to be made public. Judge Anthony Millar said “it is, in my view, self-evident that there is public interest in the disclosure of the records.”

NGO Health Justice Initiative lodged an appeal under the Promotion of Access to Information Act, to compel the National Department of Health to provide access to covid vaccine contracts following allegations of corruption and inequitable clauses hidden in the contracts.

South Africa’s vaccine contracts are rumoured to include inflated prices and inequitable terms such as export restrictions, non-refundability and broad clauses protecting the pharmaceutical companies from liability.

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