AFTINET | 14 February 2022
Parliamentary committee recommends that UK and Taiwan should join the CPTPP, but not China
February 14, 2022: The Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs Defence and Trade (JSFADT) held an inquiry into he expansion of the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific partnership (CPTPP) in 2021, and the committee report was released on February 10, 2022.
The government has a majority on this committee, which makes general investigations into trade issues. The UK, China and Taiwan applied in that order in 2020 to join the CPTPP, and their applications will be considered by the eight of the eleven governments that have ratified the agreement.
The report recommends that Australia support the applications of the UK and Taiwan, but places conditions on support for China’s accession. It recommends that Australia “work with other CPTPP members to encourage China to re-establish full trading relations including ending its coercive trade measures and re-engaging in ministerial dialogue, and to demonstrate an ability and willingness to commit to the CPTPP’s high standards.”
The CPTPP was signed in 2018 by 11 countries: Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Chile, Peru, Mexico, Canada, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei and Vietnam, after the US withdrew in 2017. The remaining 11 rebadged the agreement as the CPTPP and suspended some of its most controversial clauses. Brunei, Chile and Malaysia have not ratified the agreement.
AFTINET ‘s submission did not support the expansion of the CPTPP without first addressing the flaws we identified in the agreement when it was signed in 2018. The CPTPP’s 30 chapters intrude into more areas of regulation normally subject to democratic national decision-making processes than any previous trade agreement. These include corporate rights to sue governments (Investor-State Dispute Settlement or ISDS), restrictions on government regulation of essential services like aged care and state regulation of carbon emissions, temporary movement of people, reduced capacity for local industry development, restrictions on government procurement policy and regulation of product standards. The labour and environment chapters are not as legally enforceable as the other chapters in the agreement.
Overall, AFTINET argues that the CPTPP should not be expanded but should be reviewed to address these flaws.