Labor has welcomed an inquiry by Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT) into the transparency of Australia’s free trade agreements.
The inquiry will focus on consultation undertaken during the negotiation of trade agreements and will consider the effectiveness of independent economic analysis.
Labor has long called for greater transparency and consultation in the development of FTAs, as this is vital in ensuring community consensus in favour of fair and open trade.
In particular, Labor supports the use of economic modelling of FTAs during the negotiation phase as well as after an agreement has come into force, to assist in determining whether expected outcomes are being realised.
Earlier this year, the Morrison Government rejected a previous JSCOT recommendation that FTAs be subject to independent economic modelling.
Labor’s stance on this issue has been backed by the union movement and business groups.
Labor members on JSCOT led the push for this new inquiry, after receiving feedback from trade unions and other concerned groups that feel disenfranchised by the treaty-making process.
The Shadow Minister for Trade, Madeleine King, said Labor would continue to hold the Government to account on these issues.
“More transparency will play an important role in maintaining community support for international trade,” Ms King said.
The Deputy Chair of JSCOT, Peter Khalil, said: “This inquiry will give many more stakeholders the opportunity to have input into the trade agreement-making process, making for more robust and inclusive development of FTAs.
“We look forward to hearing from as many voices as possible during this process.”
Interested parties can make submissions to the inquiry before the deadline of 31 July. Public hearings are scheduled for August.