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Japan trade deals to face parliament hurdles

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Free trade deals with Japan and South Korea won’t get a free ride through federal parliament.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who is leading a week-long business and political mission to North Asia, has secured free trade agreements with Japan and South Korea.

The text of the agreements, along with national interest analyses, will have to be tabled in parliament for consideration by the treaties committee.

Following the committee’s inquiry, parliament will need to pass amendments which will then require royal assent before diplomatic notes can be exchanged with Japan and Korea to bring the agreements into force.

Shadow trade minister Penny Wong says Labor supports good trade outcomes for Australia.

“But they have to be the right trade deals,” Senator Wong said on Monday.

“They have to be high quality agreements … that deliver real outcomes to Australian firms and Australian industries, particularly in the context of Japan, our beef producers.

“What we don’t want is a focus on getting trade agreements for Tony Abbott’s trophy cabinet.”

The Greens have said they won’t pass FTAs if they increase coal and gas exports and include investor state dispute settlement provisions.

ISDS clauses allow foreign investors the right to take court action against the Australian government under international law.

In the past such clauses in trade agreements reached overseas have been used, for example, by cigarette companies to sue over plain packaging laws and television giants to sue over media law reform.

The Korean and Japanese governments also have to navigate a number of hurdles before finalising the agreements at their end.

They will be required to submit the agreements and economic impact studies to their respective national assemblies for inquiries before ratification.