China- Australia FTA (ChAFTA) lopsided

The China-Australia FTA text  released on June 17, 2015 shows the Australian government made huge concessions on temporary labour and investor rights in its desperation to complete the deal. AFTINET's preliminary analysis  reveals that the Australian Government has increased numbers of temporary migrant workers and has agreed that Chinese investors will be able to sue Australian governments if they can claim that a change in law or policy "harms" their investment, known as Investor-State Disputes or ISDS, but those provisions are unfinished and ambiguous.

SMH reports China FTA allows investors to sue governments

Sydney Morning Herald

Chinese corporations allowed to sue Australian government under free trade agreement

November 19, 2014 - 12:28AM

Gareth Hutchens

Labor and Greens senators have warned about a controversial and little-understood clause in the new China-Australia free trade agreement that will allow Chinese corporations to sue the Australian government.

The deal struck between China and Australia on Monday will contain a so-called Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanism that will allow Chinese corporations to sue Australia's government if a change in Australian law can be claimed to have harmed their investments in Australia.

Claimed economic gains from China FTA based on outdated study

 Greg Jericho writing in the Guardian debunks the uncritical media reports of government claims of $18 billion added to Australia's GDP after 10 years by the China FTA. The quoted study was done in 2005 and assumed tariff removal on all Australia's exports to China, which is not the case in the  deal reported so far. The $18 billion figure is not credible, but has not been scrutinised.  The Government was desperate to announce the deal this week during the Chinese Premier's visit and claimed there was no time for an updated study. .

 

AFTINET ABC Radio interview: foreign investors could sue over food labelling

June 10, 2015:The Federal Government is investigating how country of origin labels on food can prevent the type of health scare caused by the Hepatitis A outbreak earlier this year, which was blamed on frozen berries from China.But the Government is facing the risk of being sued by foreign companies if these new labelling laws aren't brought in before two major trade deals come into effect. Under the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement, and the Trans Pacific Partnership deal, companies would be able to sue governments over any law that adversely affects their business. Hear the full interview 

 

Foreign owners of power poles and wires could use ISDS to sue over regulation

March 23, 2015: Professor Sharon Beder writes in  the Sydney Morning Herald that the sale of NSW poles and wires to foreign owners would enable them to use ISDS in trade agreements like the China FTA or the TPP to sue the government for damages in an international tribunal if it introduced regulation which "harmed" their investment.

Trade Minister accused of conflict of interest over new food labelling laws

March 25, 2015: The Greens, Public Health groups and AFTINET explain that proposed new labelling rules in response to the contaminated berries scandal could result in foreign companies using ISDS in the Korea, China or Trans-Pacific trade agreements to sue the government for damages if their profits are reduced.  See the feature article in the Sydney Morning Herald and other Fairfax papers here  

 

Shorten criticism of China FTA backed by academics

September 3, 2015: the Sydney Morning Herald reports that ALP Opposition Leader Bill Shorten is sticking to his criticism that China FTA does not require testing for local workers for projects over $150 million, despite government denials. Associate Prof Stuart Rosewarne and migration law expert Joanne Howe writing in The Drum agree with this criticism after analysing both the text of the agreement and the government’s response.

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