The Trans-Pacific Partnership, an economic free trade agreement between Australia and 12 countries including the United States and New Zealand, has been signed by government representatives in a NZ ceremony today. It now goes in front of Parliament for review and a vote, but consumer advocacy group Choice has said it will have a minimal financial benefit at best, and will open Australia up to myriad international legal issues.
The net financial benefit of the TPP will be a tiny 0.7 per cent of Australia's GDP by 2030, a figure that Choice says is roughly equivalent to the value of six Gerry Harveys. Choice's Head of Media Tom Godfrey said in a statement: "Aussies are in for a rough ride now the TPP has been signed. Not only will the financial benefit be minimal, we've given the power to US companies to sue us for making laws to protect our community.”
The opening of economic borders and aligning of laws that the TPP includes has the potential to open Australia up to lawsuits including investor-state dispute settlement, a test case of which by US tobacco giant Phillip Morris cost Australian taxpayers $50 million in 2015. Choice says it is possible for these disputes to cost more money than the value that the TPP will add: "With the potential for more cases like this to be brought under the TPP, that 0.7 per cent benefit in 14 years may well disappear.
"It's hard to see how any output from the Federal Government department that signed us up to the deal and consistently failed to listen to community concerns will do anything but wave this through." After its signing in New Zealand, the TPP will have a National Interest Assessment conducted on it by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Australia's Federal Parliament will have to vote on any legislation required to sign the TPP into law. [Choice]