Australia-India Interim Economic Cooperation Agreement submissions due August 19
August 8, 2022: Labor has a policy for a more transparent public and parliamentary process for future trade agreements. See our critique of the current process here and Labor policy here.
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 will raise the process issues in our submission.
The IACEPA is an interim agreement which is mainly about tariffs and other arrangements for trade in goods and services and does not include red line issues like foreign investor rights to sue governments (ISDS) and removal of labour market testing for temporary workers which are contrary to Labor policies. However it does include some other arrangements for expansion of temporary workers. There are no chapters on labour rights or environmental sustainability. There are separate negotiations on recognition of tertiary qualifications which are not part of the trade agreement
The interim agreement commits to the negotiation of a more comprehensive agreement on issues which been left out of the interim agreement. There will be pressure from sections of business on the government to include red line issues even if contrary to Labor policy. These negotiations were due to commence in June, but this arrangement was interrupted by the election. It now appears they will not commence until after the ratification of the interim agreement.
See https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Joint/Treaties/AI-ECTA . The Treaty and related documents are on the Treaty being considered page.
The JCSOT will hold public hearings and report to parliament on November 18, before voting on the enabling legislation.
AFTINET will prepare a detailed submission which will be circulated to members for comment.