1. Introduction

Referral of the inquiry

The Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, Senator the Hon Simon Birmingham, wrote to the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT) on 23 October 2018 referring the Peru-Australia Free Trade Agreement (PAFTA) to the Committee for a second inquiry at the request of the Australian Labor Party (ALP).
The Minister informed the Committee that following the passage of the enabling legislation of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP 11), the ALP was seeking further investigation into PAFTA in order to satisfy themselves on the merits of the agreement prior to consideration of the enabling legislation.
Although the Committee agreed in August 2018 that PAFTA be ratified, there were some aspects of the broader trade environment on which the ALP sought further inquiry. These issues include:
Investor-State Dispute Settlement provisions; and
concerns over the increasing complexity created by the number of trade agreements, particularly multiple agreements with the same partner.
Minister Birmingham, in the spirit of bipartisanship in which recent trade agreements have been negotiated, asked the Committee to support a short inquiry that would still enable the legislative deadline to be met for PAFTA.

Conduct and scope of the inquiry

The Committee acknowledges that many aspects of its earlier examination were considered in its earlier report and does not propose to revisit them in detail.1 Information from the first report is reproduced where relevant.
The Committee notes that the views of some stakeholders have progressed since the earlier inquiry and has sought to ensure that any changes are reflected in later evidence to this second inquiry.
The Committee adopted the inquiry on 25 October 2018. A media release announcing the inquiry was issued on 26 October 2018. Written submissions were invited by 2 November 2018.
Noting the narrow focus of the inquiry, the Committee held one public hearing in Melbourne on 8 November 2018 and invited participants identified as having a clear interest in the specific issues being considered. The transcript of evidence from the public hearing may be obtained from the Committee Secretariat or accessed through the Committee’s website:
The Committee received 19 submissions which are listed in Appendix A. A list of witnesses who appeared at the public hearing is at Appendix B.

  • 1
    Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT), Report 180: Peru FTA; EU Framework Agreement; Timor Treaty-Maritime Boundaries; WIPO Australian Patent Office; Scientific Technical Cooperation: Italy and Brazil, Canberra, August 2018.

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About this inquiry

This inquiry will examine aspects of the Free Trade Agreement between Australia and the Republic of Peru (Peru FTA) (Canberra, 12 February 2018). Noting its August 2018 report, the Committee will again consider:

• ongoing concerns over the increasing complexity created by the number of trade agreements, particularly multiple agreements with the same partner; and

• the specific inclusion and operation of the ISDS provisions in recently concluded trade agreements.

Past Public Hearings

08 Nov 2018: MELBOURNE