Final UK FTA Talks On Corporate Rights To Sue Governments Alarm Community Groups

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“The British Trade Minister has confirmed that
corporate rights to sue governments are being discussed in
the final negotiations for the Australia-UK Free Trade
Agreement before an announcement at the G7 meeting in the UK
on June 11-13. This is unacceptable and will fuel community
opposition to the deal in both Australia and the UK,“ Dr
Patricia Ranald, Convenor of the Australian Fair Trade &
Investment Network said today.

As reported in the
Guardian
UK trade Minister Greg Hands said: “It is a
live negotiation. There will be a chapter on investment. We
are huge investors in each other’s markets. I would remind
the House that the UK has never lost an ISDS
case.”

“Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS)
is unacceptable because it gives global corporations special
rights to sue governments in unfair international tribunals
over democratic changes to public health, environment and
other public interest laws. Australians remember that the Philip
Morris tobacco company sued Australia
for billions over
our plain packaging law. It took a total of seven years and
$24 million in legal costs for Australia to win the case,
and only half of this was recovered,” said Dr
Ranald.

“There are now over 1000 known ISDS cases,
with increasing numbers against health
and environment laws, including laws to address climate
change
.”

“ISDS would give UK corporations the
right to sue Australia over democratic legal changes in
Australia. For example, British aged care company BUPA could
claim compensation if the government follows the
recommendations of the Royal commission into aged care and
regulates for improved staffing levels and quality of
care.”

“Huge community opposition has led
governments to reject ISDS. The 27 EU member states have terminated
ISDS arrangements between themselves
, and ISDS has been
excluded from the EU-Australia Free Trade Agreement. The US
and Canada have excluded ISDS from their part of the new
North America Free Trade Agreement, known as the United
States-Mexico-Canada Agreement
”, said Dr
Ranald.

“Strong community campaigns resulted in
exclusion of ISDS from the Regional
Comprehensive Economic Partnership
(RCEP)signed in
November 2020 between Australia, New Zealand, China, Japan,
South Korea and the 10 ASEAN nations,“ said Dr
Ranald.

“We call on the Australian Government to
exclude ISDS from the Australia-UK FTA as has been done in
the Australia-EU FTA and the
RCEP.”

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