bilaterals.org logo
bilaterals.org logo

Australia

In the last two years the Australian Government has finalised bilateral trade agreements with China, Korea and Japan, which are now in force. The Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement between 12 Pacific Rim countries has been agreed, but is being reviewed by a Parliamentary committees before Parliament votes on the implementing legislation. The TPP will not come into force until six of the 12 countries including the US and Japan pass the implementing legislation, which is expected to take two years.

The current conservative Coalition government has agreed to include Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions in the Korea and China bilateral FTAs as well as the TPP. ISDS allows foreign companies to bypass national courts and sue governments for compensation if they can argue that a change in law or policy harms their investment. The previous Labor government had a policy against ISDS, and even a previous Coalition government did not include ISDS in the Australia-US free trade agreement in 2004.

There is widespread opposition in the Australian community to the inclusion of ISDS in the TPP. The TPP is also controversial because it extends monopoly rights on expensive life-saving biologic medicines, which will mean more years of very high prices before cheaper versions become available. There are also grave concerns about its impacts on food labelling standards and expanded access for temporary workers without additional protection of workers’ rights. A recent World Bank study found that Australia was only likely to gain almost no economic benefit from the deal.

Australia is currently involved in multilateral negotiations towards the PACER-plus agreement with New Zealand and 14 Pacific Island countries, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and the Trade In Services Agreement (TISA). It is also negotiating bilateral trade agreements with India and Indonesia and will begin talks with Hong Kong and Taiwan later this year and the EU next year.

Contributed by AFTINET

last update: May 2016


Australia-Hong Kong Free Trade Agreement commences
Australia - Hong Kong Free Trade Agreement entered into force on Friday, announced by Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, Simon Birmingham.
The FTA between Peru and Australia will enter into force in February 2020
FTA between Peru and Australia will enter into force in February 2020, stated the head of the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Tourism (Mincetur), Edgar Vasquez.
HKSAR, Australia to put in force free trade, investment agreements in January
The Free Trade Agreement and Investment Agreement signed between China’s Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) and Australia in March will enter into force on Jan. 17, 2020.
Free trade agreements are often ignored by business. So why has Australia signed a new one?
FTAs can be downright harmful. These agreements often include clauses that deliver power to foreign corporations to launch legal action against democratically elected governments on decisions they believe harm their commercial interests.
Why Australia and India haven’t settled an FTA yet
It has been more than eight years since Australia and India began negotiations on a free trade deal, but the two countries have yet to reach a settlement that both New Delhi and Canberra feel comfortable with.
AFTINET fears that assurances sought by Labor will not prevent harmful impacts from Indonesia and other trade deals
Organisations representing millions of Australians wrote to Labor MPs last week asking them to implement their policies against harmful proposals including special rights for foreign investors to sue governments for millions over domestic laws.
Trio of free-trade deals before parliament
The Morrison government hopes to pass legislation cobbling together three free-trade deals within months. Draft legislation to lock in trade pacts with Indonesia, Hong Kong and Peru was introduced to parliament on Wednesday.
Australian red meat industry urges FTA ratification
The Australian red meat industry is calling on the government to ratify the free trade agreements with Indonesia and Hong Kong without delay.
Trade deals putting corporates before people and environment
Community groups representing millions say trade deals with Indonesia, Hong Kong and Peru put corporate rights before people and environment and urge Labor and cross-bench to oppose them.
Australia set to ratify controversial trade deal with Hong Kong
Australia will ratify a controversial trade deal with Hong Kong despite growing concern over Chinese government control of the city and the brutal treatment of protesters demanding universal suffrage for its people.