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Community Organisations Seek Strong Human Rights, Labour Rights And Environmental Standards At IPEF Talks This Weekend

Twenty-eight community organisations representing hundreds of thousands of Australians have written to the Trade Minister about the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) negotiations between Australia, the US and 12 Indo Pacific countries taking place in Detroit this weekend*.

IPEF is a US trade initiative to diversify supply chains away from China. It is not a traditional trade agreement offering market access, but aims to improve human rights, labour rights and environmental standards in the region.

The wide range of organisations includes environment, union, church, aid and development, human rights, public health and other community organisations, including the Australian Conservation Foundation, Amnesty international, the Australian Education Union, the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, Oxfam Australia, the Sisters of Charity and the Public Health Association of Australia.

“The letter congratulates the labour government on its policies for a more transparent trade negotiation process and commitments to include human rights, labour rights and environmental standards in trade agreements, and asks the government to ensure these policies are implemented in IPEF,” AFTINET Convener Dr Patricia Ranald said today.

“We seeking more transparency in the IPEF process, with public release of agreements and independent evaluation of costs and benefits before they are signed. We also want strong enforceable human rights, labour rights and environmental standards and retention of government rights to regulate the rapidly changing digital domain in the public interest,” said Dr Ranald.

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“There is pressure from the US to complete the negotiations by November, and that is a danger that these standards will not be met. US congress members have also criticised the secrecy of the negotiations. They have also criticised the Big Tech companies’ IPEF agenda for deregulation of data flows and digital trade that could prevent governments from regulating to protect consumer privacy and cybersecurity, and from curbing the ability of unregulated Artificial Intelligence to produce deep fake news,” explained Dr Ranald.

We want the Australian government to keep its commitments for greater transparency and high standards in trade agreements and to ensure that agreements do not prevent governments from regulating in the public interest.”

The full letter with endorsements is attached and online here.

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