Today the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT) released its second report into the Peru-Australia Free Trade Agreement (PAFTA).

Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Simon Birmingham welcomed the report’s recommendation that it be supported and that binding treaty action be taken.

“I welcome the Committee’s acknowledgment of the ‘gains and opportunities that PAFTA will provide for Australian businesses and exporters’ and their noting of the ‘importance of early ratification.’

“PAFTA has significant benefits for Australian farmers and businesses, will create more jobs and help to further strengthen our economy. It also builds on the significant gains we have achieved in ratifying the TPP-11 by phasing out a number of tariffs even faster.

“For example Australian sugar and canegrowers under PAFTA will secure more market access than any other sugar exporting country has achieved into Peru in the last 20 years.

“PAFTA also removes barriers for some of our key services industries including education and telecommunications by providing them with more transparent and predictable operating conditions.”

In October, at the request of the Australian Labor Party and in the spirit of bipartisanship, Minister Birmingham referred PAFTA to JSCOT for a second time.

“It’s disappointing to see Labor now state that the ‘implementing legislation should be postponed’ until the Government renegotiates certain aspects of the Agreement. This approach, which we do not agree with, would threaten decades of bipartisanship on trade policy, undermine Australia’s credibility in trade negotiations and jeopardise all the benefits that Australian industry would access under this agreement,” Minister Birmingham said.

“Are Labor seriously going to hold up this Agreement over Investor-State Dispute Settlement provisions, which already exist between Australia and Peru under a decades old investment agreement that the Keating Government signed and will continue to apply even if this new FTA is not brought into force?

“The approach argued by Labor Committee members defies logic and ignores the reality that these provisions are there to help safeguard Australian companies which are expanding their operations overseas by investing in foreign economies.

“Labor should listen to the likes of the Winemakers Federation of Australia, the National Farmers’ Federation, the Group of Eight Universities, the Minerals Council of Australia, the Australian dairy industry and the red meat and livestock industry who all made submissions in support of PAFTA.

“I urge Bill Shorten and the Labor Party to maintain a bipartisan approach to trade and to put the interests of Australian farmers and businesses first by supporting PAFTA.”

The report can be found at: https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Joint/Treaties/AspectsPAFTArevisited/Report_183

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