Better And Fairer Trade Agreements


A Shorten Labor Government will ensure that trade works for all Australians.

Trade is important to Australia’s prosperity because companies that export employ more people, pay higher wages and contribute more to our economy.

Labor has done the heavy lifting when it comes to trade - the unilateral tariff reforms of Hawke and Keating have helped ensure that Australia has experienced a record 28 years of uninterrupted economic growth.

One in five Australian jobs is linked to trade. But less than 52,000 of Australia’s 2.5 million companies are exporters. Government and business need to work together to change this.


A Shorten Labor Government will help more businesses to export by:

  • Prioritising the finalisation of trade agreements with the European Union and the United Kingdom and the regional trade agreement known as Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.
  • Getting businesses more involved in the development of new trade agreements. We will establish an Accredited Advisers system where businesses, unions and other organisations will be shown the draft text of trade agreements as they are being negotiated and asked to provide real time feedback.
  • Setting up a joint team made up of officers from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Austrade, the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Industry to help businesses resolve non-tariff barriers.
  • Labor will also help businesses make the most of the rise of Asia, including in trade, through our Future Asia plan.

A Shorten Labor Government will ensure that trade agreements work better for people by:

  • Requiring agreements to undergo Independent National Interest Assessments before they are signed and at the 10 year mark so Australians can independently assess their benefits.
  • Expanding the role of the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT) so it is involved in the development of trade agreements from start to finish, not just examining them at the end.
  • Providing public updates on each round of negotiations and releasing draft texts during negotiations where this is feasible.
  • Prohibiting the signing of trade agreements that: waive labour market testing, include Investor State Dispute Settlement provisions, require the privatisation of public services, undermine the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, undermine Australia’s anti-dumping laws, limit the ability of the Australian Government to regulate in the interests of public welfare or in relation to safe products and undermine mandatory skills testing requirements.