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GATS and US trade talks detail essential.



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Senator Aden Ridgeway Spokesperson on Trade

11 December 2002 MEDIA RELEASE 02/606

GATS and US Trade Talks Detail Essential

The Australian Democrats, with the support of the ALP, have initiated a Senate Inquiry into Australia’s trade and foreign policy strategy.

The Senate is expected to approve the Inquiry tomorrow, which will specifically examine the next round of negotiations in the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) and the negotiation of a free trade agreement with the USA.

Trade Spokesperson, Senator Aden Ridgeway, said the Democrats have asked the Government for detail on the GATS negotiations twice previously.

“Only last month the Democrats asked the Government to table all requests made to, and by, the Australian Government that may allow more foreign intervention into service industries - like health, education and telecommunications - under GATS and they refused,” Senator Ridgeway said.

“We have been left with no choice but to call this Inquiry to get this information.

“Because of these long term and far reaching effects of agreements reached in these talks, the process and areas of negotiation need to be made public.

“The only way the Australian people can be reassured that their community services are not under threat from these negotiations is for this information to be made public,” said Senator Ridgeway.

The terms of reference for the Inquiry by the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References Committee are as follows:

1. The relevant issues involved in the negotiation of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) in the Doha Development Round of the World Trade Organisation, including but not limited to: (a) the economic, regional, social, cultural, environmental and policy impact of services trade liberalisation

(b) Australia’s goals and strategy for the negotiations, including the formulation of and response to requests, the transparency of the process and government accountability (c) the GATS negotiations in the context of the ‘development’ objectives of the Doha Round (d) the impact of the GATS on the provision of, and access to, public services provided by government, such as health, education and water

(e) the impact of the GATS on the ability of all levels of governments’ to regulate services and own public assets.

2 The issues for Australia in the negotiation of a Free Trade Agreement with the United States of America including but not limited to: (a) the economic, regional, social, cultural, environmental and policy impact of such an agreement (b) Australia’s goals and strategy for negotiations including the formulation of our mandate, the

transparency of the process and government accountability (c) the impact on the Doha Development Round.

Contact: Liz Willis 0417 410 506

http://www.democrats.org.au/