15 November 2020

Labor will carefully consider the details of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

Labor will carefully consider the details of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
We support open trade agreements that create jobs in Australia, deliver export opportunities for Australian businesses and help boost economic growth.
The RCEP is a regional deal comprising Australia and 14 Indo-Pacific neighbours: China, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
These countries account for nine of Australia’s top 15 trading partners, 58 per cent of our trade and 66 per cent of our exports.
The RCEP has the potential to enable greater regional economic integration and cooperation, as well as better rules-based trading arrangements that will provide more certainty for Australian businesses.
But the Government must explain what real benefits this agreement delivers - if any - for Australia’s coal, timber, seafood and agriculture exporters whose products have been blocked by China in recent weeks.
Under the Morrison Government’s watch, Australia has become more reliant than ever on a single market for trade.
Our exporters have seen downside of that in recent months.
The Morrison government has overseen the breakdown in the trade relationship with China and still has no plan to fix it, refusing to listen to the desperate calls from export industries that provide Australian jobs.
Labor expects the RCEP will protect local jobs and uphold the International Labour Organisation’s labour standards.
Regrettably, this appears not to be the case, and the Morrison Government has missed an important opportunity for Australia to show leadership across our region by encouraging trade partners to commit to better standards for all workers.
We welcome reports that investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) provisions are not included in this agreement.
Labor has previously raised concerns over the Morrison Government’s refusal to commission independent economic modelling for the RCEP.
We also called for the final treaty text to be publicly released before the agreement was signed to allow it to be scrutinised – but this did not occur.
Greater transparency in the development of trade agreements is vital in building community support for fair and open trade.
Labor will consider the details of the RCEP agreement when they are released.
We will consult widely with the union movement, the business community and the public service.