In brief - Freight and logistics providers, traders may gain from TPP

Although it is not yet law in Australia and there is some controversy around its adoption, the benefits of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) have been highlighted in a recent media release by the Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade (DFAT), including its positive impact on Australia's transport and trade industries.

Standardising international trade and investment among benefits of TPP

In October 2015, negotiations on what has been described as the biggest global trade deal in twenty years, which first commenced more than five years ago, were successfully concluded in Atlanta resulting in the TPP.

According to a DFAT media release on 9 February 2016 titled Outcomes at a glance:
  • The TPP will establish a more seamless trade and investment environment across 12 countries which represent around 40 per cent of global GDP.
  • In 2014, one third of Australia’s total goods and services exports – worth $109 billion – went to TPP countries, which also include Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, New Zealand, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam.
  • Combined with Australia's recent trade deals with Korea, Japan and China, the TPP forms part of the Australian government’s microeconomic reform strategy to support the diversification of the Australian economy in the post-mining boom phase.
  • By setting common international trade and investment standards between member countries, the TPP will make doing business across the region easier, reducing red tape and business costs.
  • The TPP will reduce barriers to Australian goods exports, services and investment, and eliminate 98 per cent of all tariffs across everything from beef, dairy, wine, sugar, rice, horticulture and seafood through to manufactured goods, resources and energy.

More integrated logistics supply chains, trade and investment protections

In regard to transport services, DFAT said the following about the TPP:

Transport services: Australian freight and logistics providers stand to benefit from enhanced commitments that support integrated logistics supply chains. Australian providers of transport and logistics services in Malaysia and Vietnam will gain strong trade and investment protections for the first time. The TPP will capture future liberalisation of investment regulations in aviation in Vietnam and freight trucking in Malaysia and Vietnam, key markets for our airlines and logistics providers.

Greater cooperation between customs authorities, transparent and fair for traders

In a summary on the chapter of the TPP that relates to customs administration and trade facilitation, DFAT said:

The Customs Administration and Trade Facilitation Chapter will facilitate trade among TPP Parties by limiting the administrative burdens of customs processes and providing certainty for traders in their dealings with their respective customs authorities. It is designed to encourage cooperation between customs authorities, promote efficient customs procedures and provide transparency and fairness to traders. The Chapter preserves the ability for customs authorities to enforce domestic laws and regulations.

Not everyone supports the TPP

Some persons are said to regard the TPP as a commercial irrelevance, or at best a US geopolitical exercise in Asian re-engagement. Some others have said that the TPP agenda is being driven primarily by big business, big pharmaceuticals and big tobacco.

Will the TPP become law in Australia?

The TPP is not yet part of the law of Australia. Each country a party to the TPP will, in due course, have to undertake its domestic treaty-making process. DFAT says that, for Australia, this will involve tabling the treaty text in parliament along with a National Interest Analysis and a review by the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties to which all interested parties can make submissions.

It remains to be seen how matters will unfold as regards the National Interest Analysis and the review by the Australian Joint Standing Committee on Treaties.

This is commentary published by Colin Biggers & Paisley for general information purposes only. This should not be relied on as specific advice. You should seek your own legal and other advice for any question, or for any specific situation or proposal, before making any final decision. The content also is subject to change. A person listed may not be admitted as a lawyer in all States and Territories. © Colin Biggers & Paisley, Australia 2024.

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