Press Release – AFTINET
The Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network (AFTINET ) will begin analysing the likely 1000-page text of the China free trade agreement when it is released after the signing ceremony to take place today.China FTA text released today: the devil in the detail on investor rights to sue governments and temporary migrant workers
The Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network (AFTINET) will begin analysing the likely 1000-page text of the China free trade agreement when it is released after the signing ceremony to take place today.
Behind the news of increased market access for some agricultural products are the devils in the detail buried in the document
Key points include:
• The agreement includes provisions for Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) which will enable Chinese investors to sue the Australian government over changes in domestic law or policy if they can argue that the change “harms” their investment. Claimed “safeguards” have not prevented international investors from suing governments for damages over environmental and other public interest regulation.
• There is a separate Memorandum of Understanding which gives Chinese investors in projects valued over $150 million (a very low threshold that would include most construction and mining projects) additional rights to bring in temporary migrant workers without local labour market testing. This reduces local job opportunities and the temporary workforce is especially vulnerable to exploitation because they are tied to one employer and may not have English-language skills and health and safety training
• There has been no separate economic analysis of the costs and benefits of the China agreement, but a combined study of the impacts of the impacts of the Japan, Korea and China free trade agreements by the same consultants which produced wildly optimistic estimates of benefits for the Australia-US FTA which did not eventuate.