Australia is knocking at the door of opportunity

Chinese customers shop for bottled wine imported from Australia at a supermarket in Xuchang City, central China. If 'international competitiveness' is to remain a useful phrase in the Asian century it will have to leave mercantilism behind and be framed in terms of national endowments and capabilities. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Ken Henry, National Australia Bank

In 2012, Australia’s Asian Century White Paper outlined fundamental policy and attitudinal changes that would be required if Australia was to make the most of the opportunities presented by the Asian century. Yet it has had no impact on policy in Australia. Read more…

ISDS arbitration upholds Australia’s plain packaging laws

An early design proposal for plain packaging of cigarettes, Canberra, Australia, 7 April 2011. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Kavaljit Singh, Madhyam

Tobacco giant Philip Morris has lost a major international legal battle to reverse Australia’s plain packaging laws by using the Australia–Hong Kong Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (IPPA) of 1993. On 17 December 2015, a three-member arbitral tribunal at the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled that Philip Morris had no jurisdiction to bring the case against Australia. Read more…

Will a Turnbull government mean a new foreign policy for Australia?

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull speaks during a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra on 20 October 2015. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Andrew Carr, ANU

There has been speculation that Australia’s recent change in prime minister from Tony Abbott to Malcolm Turnbull will mean a shift in Australia’s choice of partners in Asia. The change does not mean that Australia will now ‘choose’ China over the United States. But it could change what Australia means by its ‘choice’ of the United States. Read more…

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…