The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement could be signed within weeks, according to Australian Trade Minister, Andrew Robb.
“Mid-February to mid-March: that’ll be, I think, the timeframe,” Robb told the ABC last week.
“We might have to come back again to conclude some things, but that’s the intent.”
“The final issues, as always, are the most difficult. But everyone seems to be in a mood to find some common ground so that we can get this major, major agreement off the ground.”
For the full ABC Rural story see here: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-02-05/andrew-robb-believes-trade-agreement-could-be-weeks-away/6071672
I don’t necessarily share the conspiracy theories about the TPP, but I believe in transparency and in allowing the Australian Parliament and voters to see the detail before it is signed.
In December, I wrote a column for The New Daily arguing that the China FTA needed further exploration for its impact on economic staples, like milk and dairy products. See here: http://thenewdaily.com.au/money/2014/12/03/china-fta-milk-prices/
Before that, I wrote another column arguing for the full details of the China FTA to be released, including the small print of bringing in Chinese contractors and short-term workers. See here: : http://thenewdaily.com.au/money/2014/11/19/china-fta-isnt-cracked/
But I also have concerns about investor state dispute settlement, or ISDS. It enables foreign investors from TPP states to sue the signatory governments which act in a way that harms their interest.
For example, I believe that the Australian parliament should be able to pass legislation requiring plan packaging of cigarettes without being taken through a secretive legal process.
Greens senator David Whish-Wilson appears to have been the only politician to have commented on last week’s comments with Andrew Robb. See http://greensmps.org.au/content/media-releases/robb-rushes-tpp-deal-distract-government-woes
FOOTNOTE: A discussion of ISDS from the ABC’s Background Briefing is here: http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/backgroundbriefing/isds-the-devil-in-the-trade-deal/5734490