Australian Bilateral Agreements

While tariff preferences in trade agreements may benefit certain industrial sectors, the Commission has found little evidence that recent bilateral agreements have brought considerable trade benefits to Australia. The main factors influencing transaction decisions in other countries are likely to be outside the scope of these agreements. The study concluded that while preferential trade agreements could increase national income, the net effect is likely to be modest. The current conservative coalition government has agreed to include the provisions of ISDR in the bilateral free trade agreements of Korea and China, as well as the TPP. ISDS allows foreign companies to circumvent domestic courts and sue governments for redress if they can argue that a change in the law or policy harms their investments. The previous Labor government had a policy against ISDS and even a previous coalition government did not accept ISDS in the Australia-US free trade agreement in 2004. Bilateral social security agreements are international agreements concluded by Australia with certain countries. These agreements address the issue of “double superannuation coverage” that occurs when you work temporarily for your Australian employer abroad and have to pay super premiums (or equivalent contributions) in Australia and the country where you work. The Commission also reaffirmed that national economic reforms have relatively significant economic benefits and should not be delayed in order to maintain a “bargaining s supply” for the negotiation of trade agreements. One of them provides details on some CGE models on the impact of different trade liberalization scenarios; the other detail of an econometric analysis of the links between trade agreements and trade flows. Australia presented trade initiatives or trade agreements with countries or groups of countries in the table below.

The study also found that certain provisions contained in recent preferential trade agreements in Australia – including investor-state dispute settlement mechanisms, procurement requirements, intellectual property protection and provisions that traditionally affect the province of domestic policy – could entail significant costs or risks. Australia is currently participating in multilateral negotiations on the PACER plus agreement with New Zealand and 14 Pacific Island States, the Comprehensive Regional Economic Partnership (RCEP) and the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA). It also negotiates bilateral trade agreements with India and Indonesia and will begin talks with Hong Kong and Taiwan before the end of the year and with the EU next year. The Commission was invited to examine the effects of bilateral and regional trade agreements, including on barriers to trade and investment, regional integration and the Australian economy in general.