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TPP 11 set to clear Australian Senate after receiving bipartisan support

The federal opposition will give its support to the trade deal between eleven countries, including Australia.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP 11) is set to pass the Australian Senate after receiving bipartisan support following a long debate among MPs in the party room.

The trade agreement signed between 11 countries -- Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia, Japan, Mexico, Peru, Brunei, and Chile -- will eliminate 98 percent of tariffs in a marketplace worth close to $14 trillion.

With 23 Labor MPs speaking on the TPP 11 on Tuesday, opposition trade spokesman Jason Clare said his colleagues should support the deal expected to provide Australia with AU$15.6 billion per year in economic benefits, saying the deal would give Australia improved access to 13 percent of the global economy, and improved environmental and labour standards.

Only a slight majority of those Labor MPs speaking opposed.

The support shown by Labor for the trade deal has left a sour taste in the mouths of the Greens, with a statement from the party's trade spokesperson Senator Sarah Hanson-Young calling out Labor as throwing Australia under the bus for delivering the government the numbers it needs to pass the TPP 11.

"Labor has betrayed Australian workers, and our sovereignty, by paving the way to locking our nation to the dangerous TPP," she said.

"The Greens will be moving amendments to ensure workers' rights, protect Australian jobs, and prohibit ISDS [investor-state dispute settlement] provisions."

The South Australian Senator said the TPP 11 gives corporations the power to sue governments for raising wages, protecting the environment, or reducing the cost of life-saving medication.

"It gives countries the ability to bring in temporary migrant workers with no need to first check if there are Australians ready, willing and able to do the job instead. This deal will result in Australia losing 39,000 jobs," Hanson-Young continued.

"It's a bad deal, devised in a backroom and designed for a boardroom. It is baffling that Labor would support this deal."

The original TPP was signed in February 2016, but the agreement was subsequently dumped by the US soon after Donald Trump took office.

Trump has said he prefers bilateral trade deals that promote his "America first" protectionist policy, despite warnings that he risked abdicating trade leadership in the Asia-Pacific region to China.

In April, Trump signalled the US may rejoin the TPP, but quickly changed his mind, informing the world of his decision via Twitter.

According to Clare, Trump's withdrawal from the TPP means it makes strategic sense for Australia to draw closer to the region.

Opponents of the Bill said there were issues with recognition of foreign qualifications, protections for local workers, and also highlighted similar concerns as Hanson-Young around ISDS provisions.

But Clare argued there was only one new ISDS provision -- with Canada -- and that could be dealt with if Labor wins government.

One MP moved an amendment saying the TPP 11 was not in line with Labor party policies, but it was defeated, and then MPs instead voted to support the Bill.

Business groups have also urged Labor to support the deal, but some unions have opposed it.

Legislation to formalise the pact was introduced to parliament earlier this year, with former Trade Minister Steve Ciobo saying previously that Australia was sending a mutual signal that it recognises the policy orthodoxy of trade.

"The world will be drinking more Australian wine, eating more Australian beef, and using more Australian services thanks to the TPP 11," Ciobo said.

Following Trump's backflip in April, former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the UK had shown "real interest" in joining the free trade deal, and was partaking in preliminary discussions on doing so post-Brexit.

Turnbull previously said that South Korea, Indonesia, and Thailand were also interested in joining the trade agreement, while New Zealand Trade and Export Minister David Parker said in June that Colombia had highlighted intention to join once it comes into force.

With AAP

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