TPP may deny Australia its piece of the China pie

Ministers from 12 countries engaged in the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade initiative hold a joint press conference in Sydney on 27 October 2014. Australia risks losing out in the mega-regional trade deal. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Luke Hurst, ANU

As the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) goes through another round, some details have started trickling out from the secretive negotiations. A concerning detail for Australia is the provision that applies penalties to foreign state-owned enterprises (SOEs) if they receive discounted loans when investing in TPP member economies. Read more…

Why fears over the Australia–China FTA are overblown

A protestor wears a mask of Federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten as unionists call for the rewriting of the China free trade agreement outside the 2015 ALP National Conference at the Melbourne Convention Centre in Melbourne, Friday, July 24, 2015. (Photo: AAP)

Author: James Laurenceson, ACRI

After 10 years of negotiations and the official signing in June 2015, the Australia–China free trade agreement (FTA) still isn’t a done deal. A coalition of Australian trade unions is seeking to ‘stop the China FTA’ at the final hurdle, a vote in federal parliament. Read more…

Compromised investor–state arbitration in China–Australia FTA

Australia's Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop meets with China's Minister for Commerce Dr Gao Hucheng at Parliament House in Canberra, Wednesday, June 17, 2015. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Luke Nottage, University of Sydney

The China–Australia Free Trade Agreement (FTA), signed and made public on 17 June 2015, included investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) provisions, which allow foreign investors to claim against host states that violate substantive commitments if the treaty’s inter-state arbitration mechanism is unavailable due to political or diplomatic reasons. ISDS is especially useful when the host state’s laws and procedures do not meet commonly accepted minimum international standards. Read more…

Australia and Indonesia at odds at sea

An Indonesian crew member of an alleged people-smuggling boat shows a table of USD notes allegedly given to the crew of the boat by an Australian official to bring illegal migrants back to Indonesia, 16 June 2015. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Sam Bateman, RSIS

Australia and Indonesia both have a keen interest in the law of the sea as both possess large maritime areas of jurisdiction. But this commonality does not mean their interests necessarily coincide. Australia has a keen interest in freedoms of navigation through the archipelagos to its north, but Indonesia, as the largest of these archipelagos, is most sensitive to the movement of foreign ships and aircraft in and around its archipelagic waters. Read more…

What’s next after Australia’s trade deal with China?

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott looks on as Chinese Minister of Commerce Dr Gao Hucheng and Australian Minister for Trade Andrew Robb sign the Free Trade Agreement between the two countries in Canberra, 17 June 2015. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Shiro Armstrong, ANU

The landmark Australia–China Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA) has been signed, sealed and delivered, completing a trifecta of trade deals since last year with Australia’s three Northeast Asian neighbours — China, Japan and South Korea. Read more…

Australia needs a diplomatic sea change in the South China Sea

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott attends a media conference after speaking at the Western Sydney North Asia Free Trade Agreements Seminar in Sydney, 10 June 2015. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Greg Raymond, ANU

Despite its calls for ‘more Jakarta and less Geneva’, the Abbott government appears to have fallen into a passive approach to multilateral diplomacy. And as tensions in the South China Sea ratchet up, the Australian public deserves to know more about why their regional foreign policy may suddenly be lurching onto a military track. If this is the case, the government needs to show that diplomacy has been seriously tried and found wanting. Read more…

A Swiss-cheese approach to foreign investment isn’t in Australia’s interests

Australia's foreign investment regime has become needlessly complicated, with new discriminatory rules in areas such as agriculture. (Photo: AAP).

Authors: Shiro Armstrong, Sam Reinhardt and Tom Westland, ANU

Once you start picking away at something, it can be hard to stop. Australia’s foreign investment regime is a case in point: successive free trade negotiations have seen welcome liberalisation, but only for selected countries. And without a clear guiding strategy, this piecemeal approach threatens to turn the regulatory regime into a mess that is difficult to navigate and discourages foreign investment. Read more…