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Daniel McCulloch and Oliver Caffrey
(Australian Associated Press)
Australia is set to officially join a massive trade deal hailed by Prime Minister Scott Morrison as a golden businesses opportunity.
Trans-Pacific Partnership legislation cleared parliament on Wednesday with Labor backing the coalition on the deal.
Australia will become the fourth nation to ratify the agreement and it is expected to take effect by the end of this year.
Mr Morrison said being involved in the deal is “how you run a strong economy”.
“It’s a big, important day for businesses all around the country,” Mr Morrison told reporters in Canberra on Wednesday.
“By backing in Australian businesses, backing in their investment … the world is their limit.”
Trade Minister Simon Birmingham says the benefits to the economy are widespread.
“Small and medium businesses are able to get the best possible access to new export markets so our farmers and businesses can create more income and jobs,” Senator Birmingham said.
Labor backed the draft laws, despite raising concerns the TPP needs stronger labour market testing and could allow foreign companies to sue the government.
The opposition has been forced to defend its support for the deal which sparked internal tensions and angered the union movement.
A future Labor government would prohibit clauses which allow foreign companies to sue the government and protect public services in trade deals.
“It will fix many of the existing problems with trade agreements and make sure the ones we sign up to in the future are better and fairer,” Labor’s trade spokesman Jason Clare told parliament on Monday.
The Greens and One Nation oppose the 11-nation trade deal, which the government claims will be worth an estimated $15.6 billion in net annual benefits to the national economy by 2030.
“You need a plan to grow your economy because when you do that, you can guarantee the essential services that all Australians rely on,” Mr Morrison said.
“This is what pays for schools, this is what pays for hospitals, this is what guarantees Medicare, this is what delivers extra funding for Headspace and MRI machines and all of these things.”