Australian Chamber welcomes Senate endorsement of TPP

17 Oct 2018 |

Australia’s largest and most representative business network, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry has welcomed the passage of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CP-TPP) through the Senate.

“The Senate’s decision to back the CP-TPP will open up Australia’s export market, boost trade and investment and create more jobs,” Australian Chamber CEO, James Pearson, said today.

“We credit the Federal Government for its persistence and its work with our trade partners to deliver the CP-TPP, following the withdrawal of the United States, and welcome the support of the Federal Opposition for the bill.

“However, business is concerned at reports the Federal Opposition has been pressured by big unions to renegotiate the CP-TPP, and prohibit the government from signing future free trade agreements that include Investor State Dispute Settlement provisions and waive labour market testing.

“Australian businesses operate in competitive international markets. Free trade agreements are critical to the viability of Australian businesses who provide jobs to millions of Australian workers, and who generate the bulk of Australia’s economic activity.

“Dispute settlement provisions help to level the playing field for Australian firms who have the courage to take their products, services, talented people and capital into the international market, by giving them, as well as overseas investors in Australia, the right to access an international tribunal to resolve investment disputes. Trade and investment is a two-way street that benefits businesses and the people who work for them, in the countries that sign up to free trade agreements. That’s the point of dispute settlement provisions; they give businesses on all sides confidence that there is a way to resolve problems that might arise.

“Concerns about waiving labour market testing are a paper tiger created by big unions that doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.

“Employers face many existing barriers when using the costly, time-consuming and highly regulated skilled migration program. These barriers are already a very strong incentive for employers to employ Australian workers as a first priority.

“The evidence debunks the claim that exempting labour market testing from the CP-TPP and future FTAs is “dangerous” to Australian workers:

  • In 2015, big unions rolled out similar arguments used against the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA). However, the facts tell a different story. In the year before ChAFTA, there were 3,520 primary applications granted for Chinese workers under the 457 visa program. In 2017/18, only 1,700 Chinese worker applications were granted, less than half of those granted prior to ChAFTA.
  • The countries added by the CP-TPP include Canada, Peru, Mexico, Brunei, Malaysia, and Vietnam. Only two of these countries are in the 2017-18 Top 15 source countries for temporary skilled migrants, with 830 applications granted from Canada, and 620 from Malaysia out of 34,450 visas granted.
  • Three-quarters of the visas granted under the temporary skilled migration program in 2017/18, were managers and professionals.
  • Only 21% are trades workers, and these 7250 workers represent only 0.4% of the current Australian workforce of 1.8 million tradespersons.
  • The number of tradespeople sponsored for temporary migration fell by 30% over the year to June 2018.

“Australia is already suffering from a decline in our international competitiveness. It’s in our national interest for the Coalition and Labor to support policies that take us forward, not backwards, in trade.”

Duncan Bremner

Director - Public Affairs and Advocacy

P  |  0448 822 666

E  |  [email protected]

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