The TPP was an ambitious attempt to create a regional trade agreement for the Asia-Pacific. If it had been successfully completed, it would have linked 12 countries, 819 million people and almost 26 per cent of global trade. The TPP would have included significant trade and investment outcomes which would potentially have assisted Australian industry, business and consumers. However, there were also a number of troubling aspects to the final agreement. These included:
- the lack of independent economic modelling which indicated Australia would benefit from the TPP;
- the high risks associated with the ISDS provisions in the TPP;
- provisions undermining labour market testing requirements;
- the lack of enforceable commitments to labour and environmental standards;
- ambiguity regarding data protection for biologic products; and
- provisions which would 'lock-in' Australia's intellectual property regime.
However, the committee's inquiry into the proposed TPP has been overtaken by events. With the recent withdrawal of the United States, the committee's expectation is that the TPP will now not enter into force in its current form.
Despite the change of position by the United States, there still appears to be support amongst the remaining TPP participating countries for a regional trade agreement and key officials have indicated that alternative trade arrangements may be pursued
A revived trade deal may be arranged between the remaining participating countries. Should this occur, a new inquiry will be required. However, in this environment of uncertainty, it would not be useful to extend the committee's inquiry into proposed TPP. The committee will mainly comment on the TPP's ratification by Australia and the treaty-making processes.