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Australia should reject demand to rewrite Australian laws

July 31, 2015

Australia should reject US Congress Members’ demand to rewrite Australian laws even after TPP is signed and legislated

“Twenty US Congress members yesterday signed a letter demanding that the US exercise its right in the Fast Track legislation to force changes to other countries’ TPP implementing legislation before it will allow the agreement to come into force. It did this in 2004, with the Australia-US FTA, and with its agreements with Peru and South Korea. This is known as the Certification process,” said Dr Patricia Ranald, Coordinator of the Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network.

“This is a re-run of the 2004 Australia-US Free Trade Agreement when the US government demanded more changes to Australian law in November 2004 when the two governments had passed implementing legislation and were about to exchange formal letters for the ratification of the agreement. The Australian Parliamentary Library’s Bills Digest shows that the US insisted that the agreement would not be ratified without more changes to Australian copyright law than had been agreed in the final text. The Australian Howard government, desperate to complete the deal, agreed to push new legislation through.”

“The changes created additional copyright obligations for Australia. The Senate Legal and Constitutional legislation committee was given just 24 hours to consider, hear submissions and report on the new bill,” explained Dr Ranald.

“This US ability to dictate Australian legislation after the agreement is signed makes a mockery of whatever is negotiated in Maui. This is unacceptable and Australian and other TPP Ministers should demand that the US guarantee that certification will not be used,” said Dr Ranald.

See yesterday’s letter from US Congress members below.


Sara Lonardo 202-225-3661

DeLauro Leads 20 Senior Democrats in Calling on Administration to Use Certification Process to Ensure TPP Partners Comply with Pact’s Terms before It Goes into Effect

WASHINGTON, DC—Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) today led 20 Members of Congress in calling on the Obama Administration to use a formal certification process to ensure that all prospective partners in the Trans-Pacific Partnership are in compliance with the agreement before it goes into effect. Such procedures have been used in previous multi-country trade agreements, including the Central America Free Trade Agreement. Their letter to President Obama can be read in its entirety here.

In addition to DeLauro, the letter was signed by the Ranking Members of the Agriculture, Appropriations, Budget, Education and the Workforce, Energy and Commerce, Ethics, Financial Services, Judiciary, Natural Resources, Rules, Small Business, and Transportation & Infrastructure committees of the U.S. House of Representatives. It was also signed by Democratic Steering and Policy Committee Co-Chair Donna Edwards, Policy and Communications Committee Chair Steve Israel, Progressive Caucus co-chair Keith Ellison, and Representatives Rick Nolan, Bill Pascrell, Mark Pocan and Jan Schakowsky.

“Congress passed trade authority for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) premised on Congress’ understanding that the executive branch would meet the negotiating objectives laid out in the law,” they wrote to President Obama. “Given that some of the TPP parties are new free trade agreement partners for the U.S., we believe it is imperative that all of the TPP nations understand that the U.S. implementing legislation for the TPP will include the standard requirement that formal written notification to the other TPP countries of U.S. completion of its legal requirements to implement the TPP be withheld until and unless our trade partners are in compliance with all of the TPP’s terms.

“Thus, even if Congress were to pass implementing legislation for the TPP, it would not go into effect unless and until the other nations conform their laws, policies and practices to the U.S. understanding of the TPP requirements.”

The representatives specifically mentioned currency manipulation, human rights, transparency and anti-corruption, labor, the environment, and telecommunications as areas where the Administration must certify partner nations meet America’s expectations of partner countries’ obligations under the TPP.

Dr Patricia Ranald

Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network (AFTINET)


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