Trade Minister Andrew Robb criticised for seeking TPP ratification without independent analysis
February 9, 2016
Trade Minister Andrew Robb has been slammed for failing to submit the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement to an independent economic analysis before asking Parliament to ratify it.
Mr Robb tabled the text of the TPP in Parliament on Tuesday, warning opponents of the deal that Australia had to sign it.
The TPP is a huge trade agreement between 12 countries in the Asia Pacific Region, involving Australia, the US, New Zealand, and Japan, among others.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Minister for Trade and Investment Andrew Robb at Parliament House. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
“Australia simply cannot afford not to be part of it,” Mr Robb urged Parliament on Tuesday.
“It will assist our further integration in the Asia Pacific – a region that will be a critical driver of global economic growth in the years and decades ahead on account of an exploding middle class.”
Following protocol, Mr Robb tabled a National Interest Analysis of the trade agreement, along with the agreement itself, which explained why the deal was in Australia’s interest.
Australia’s Minister of Trade and Investment Andrew Robb signs the Trans Pacific Partnership in Auckland, New Zealand, last week. Photo: Fiona Goodall
The analysis was not written by an independent economic agency – it was written by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Opponents of the deal have repeatedly asked the government to submit it to an independent analysis before signing it into law.
The Productivity Commission has also criticised the way trade agreements are not analysed properly before they are signed, saying current processes “fail to adequately assess the impacts of prospective agreements”.
Greens spokesman for trade, Peter Whish-Wilson, has slammed the national interest analysis as a “farce”.
“[It] is not an independent assessment of the costs and benefits of this agreement, it is simply a more detailed set of talking points coming from DFAT and Andrew Robb’s office,” Mr Whish-Wilson said.
“Unsurprisingly DFAT and Andrew Robb have marked their own homework and given themselves top marks.
“If [he] wasn’t so afraid of his spin being shown up as hollow rhetoric then he would have no problem whatsoever referring the TPP to the Productivity Commission,” he said.
The 97-page National Interest Analysis does not provide its own estimate of the likely boost to Australia’s GDP that will come from signing the TPP.
Instead, it only says has been “assessed that the TPP represents a net gain to the Australian economy”.