bilaterals.org logo
bilaterals.org logo

Australia-China

A bilateral trade agreement between Australia and China was finalised in 2015.

This agreement is controversial in Australia because it increases entry of temporary Chinese workers in a large number of occupations, without testing first if local workers are available. There are also provisions for Chinese companies with projects worth over $150 million to negotiate the number of foreign workers they bring in as well as their pay and conditions. This is the first time an arrangement which could allow most of the workforce to be imported has been included in any Australian trade agreement. It is unclear whether recent changes to the regulations of Australia’s Migration Act will be sufficient to ensure that such workers are not exploited.

Temporary migrant workers in Australia are already at a high risk of exploitation. There have been a number of studies showing exploitation of temporary workers, working long hours in dangerous conditions at less than minimum wages. Without greater protections in place there are concerns that increased numbers of temporary workers negotiated through trade agreements could lead to more cases of exploitation.

One important impact of the agreement is how it will open the doors to more Chinese investment in Australian agriculture. China is looking to secure its food supply by investing in agribusiness abroad, whether by investing directly in farms or buying into supply chains. Australia is an important source of meat and to a lesser extent dairy for China, and so ChAFTA is expected to boost Chinese deals in Australia’s livestock industry.

The ChAFTA is also controversial because it contains Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions, which allow foreign investors to bypass national courts and sue governments before an arbitration tribunal for compensation if they can argue that changes to law or policy harm their investment. This gives increased power to corporations at the expense of democracy and the public interest.

Contributed by AFTINET

last update: March 2016


ChAFTA - Opposition et gouvernement ont trouvé un accord sur le traité sino-australien
L’opposition travailliste a trouvé un accord avec le gouvernement sur le China-Australia Free Trade Agreement, après des concessions du Ministre du Commerce sur la régulation de l’immigration créée par ce traité.
Labor finally approves China-Australia free trade agreement
The China-Australia free trade agreement will come into force before the end of the year after a compromise deal was finally struck between the federal government and opposition.
Coalition expects to cut deal with Labor over China trade agreement
Labor’s FTA worker test ‘discriminates against China’
Bill Shorten’s demand to impose new labour market testing requirements on Chinese workers who may come to Australia under the China-Australia free-trade agreement would involve actively discriminating against China compared with Australia’s other FTA partners, according to the think tank headed by former Labor foreign minister Bob Carr.
New Aussie PM Turnbull staunch supporter of China-Australia FTA
Australia’s new Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has only been in the job for four days but has already made it clear that one of his most important tasks is to have the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA) pass through the parliament.
Why we should oppose the free trade agreement with China
There’s freedom for the bosses to hire and fire at will and to shut down their businesses, throwing thousands onto the dole. But there’s little freedom for workers to strike for their rights.
Auto parts differences between Japan, U.S. and others seen clouding prospects for next TPP ministerial talks
The 12 countries taking part in Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade negotiations are likely to face difficulties in arranging a ministerial meeting as Japan, the United States and others were unable to narrow the gap over the automotive sector in recent working-level talks.
How many jobs? The China-Australia Free Trade Agreement will create hardly any
The free trade deal is now about jobs, except the government has got the number all wrong.
Australia’s treaty-making process is broken. The China free trade deal is a case in point
By the time a free trade agreement like Chafta reaches parliament it has already been agreed to. Democracy demands more than a ‘take it or leave it’ approach
Free trade treaty ratification rests squarely on Executive
The government has a number of options to get the contentious China Australia Free Trade Agreement over the line.