Strengthening Australia's approach to trade negotiations: final report published

THE Joint Standing Committee on Trade and Investment Growth has released its final report into the Australian Government’s approach to negotiating trade and investment agreements, which examined how Australia can strengthen its approach to trade negotiations.

Australia’s trade and investment agreements reduce barriers to trade for Australian goods, services, and investment, creating well paid and secure jobs, improving Australia's economic resilience, and contributing to economic growth and increased living standards.

Throughout the inquiry the committee heard about the immense benefits of trade to Australia, as well as the need to ensure that agreements are genuinely in the national interest.

Committee Chair Steve Georganas MP, said, “Trade makes a significant contribution to Australia’s prosperity and our approach to negotiating trade and investment agreements has served us well. However, it’s evident to the committee that more robust processes to identify the impact of agreements on Australian jobs and industries would be highly valuable.

"We must continue to adapt and improve our approach to ensure that our participation in international trade is of the greatest benefit to all Australians.”

The committee’s report makes eight recommendations to strengthen Australia’s approach to negotiating trade and investment agreements including by:

  • Undertaking independent modelling and analysis of each proposed or under review agreement.
  • Establishing a consistent approach to evaluating agreements including conducting broader assessment of economic, social, and environmental impacts.
  • Seeking to include human rights, labour, and environmental chapters in agreements, that where appropriate contain specific references to relevant international standards.
  • Seeking to not include provisions in agreements that waive labour market and skills testing requirements or investor state dispute settlement provisions.
  • Pursuing the inclusion of provisions in agreements that protect and promote First Nations intellectual property.
  • Establishing a legislative framework to guide some elements of the negotiation of trade and investment agreements.

The committee’s final report builds on its interim report published on February 6, 2024, that made five recommendations focussed on improving transparency, accountability, and oversight in the process for negotiating Australia’s trade and investment agreements.

Throughout the inquiry, the committee held eight public hearings in Canberra, Melbourne and virtually, in addition to receiving 54 written submissions from businesses, unions, industry associations, government agencies, community groups and individuals.                                 

The committee thanked those who had taken part in the inquiry by providing written submissions and giving evidence at public hearings.

The committee’s final report can be found on the inquiry webpage.



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