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 should join DEPA negotiations
New Zealand and Singapore announced negotiations on a Digital Economy Partnership Agreement (DEPA) that would establish new trade rules and best practices for the digital era. Australia should join and actively participate in these negotiations.
Labor holds off supporting Indonesian free trade agreement
ALP had pledged to renegotiate agreement if it won office but will now wait until parliament resume to decide whether to ratify it
Could Adani sue if the mine is cancelled?
A former investment treaty between India and Australia allows for a legal claim if the mine doesn’t go ahead, but this shouldn’t deter a federal government, says a UNSW Law researcher.
Mining representative urges Australia to join Belt and Road Initiative
Mining representative has highlighted the importance of an ongoing trade relationship with China, saying Australia missed an "opportunity" by not signing up to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) earlier.
US company’s attempt to sue Australian government collapses
Florida-based APR Energy sought compensation for treatment of its gas turbines.
Government concealed failure to cancel the old, worse version of ISDS in new Indonesia trade deal
Detailed scrutiny of the text of the recent Indonesia trade deal has revealed that there are no provisions to cancel the old 1993 Indonesia-Australia bilateral investment agreement.
Australia and Hong Kong sign new Trade Agreement containing investor-state dispute resolution provisions
On 26 March 2019, Australia and Hong Kong signed the Australia-Hong Kong Free Trade Agreement and its associated investment agreement.
Hong Kong FTA would still allow foreign investors to sue our government, says AFTINET
The Australia-Hong Kong Free Trade Agreement and separate Investment Agreement signed still give special rights to foreign investors to bypass national courts and sue governments for millions of dollars in international tribunals
Australia-Hong Kong free-trade deal signed
Australia will now be easier to compete in the Asian city because a new free-trade deal with Hong Kong.
Media release: Philip Morris paying only half of Australia’s costs in ISDS case is outrageous, says AFTINET
It has taken a second FOI case and another two years to reveal that Australian taxpayers were only awarded half of the costs of defending Australia’s tobacco plain packaging laws against tobacco giant Philip Morris in March 2017.