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Global trade deals tie hands on Aust jobs

AAP logoAAP 24/11/2016 Paul Osborne, AAP Senior Political Writer

Eight international trade agreements have clauses which limit the ability of the federal government to "buy local", a department has revealed.

Crossbench senator Nick Xenophon asked the Finance Department at an October budget estimates hearing about the effect of trade deals on the government being able to take into account Australian jobs, investment and tax revenue when making procurement decisions.

The department said in a written answer to Senator Xenophon there were eight agreements which included so-called "national treatment and non-discrimination" provisions.

These prevented government departments and agencies from treating suppliers less favourably on the basis of foreign affiliation or ownership, or the origin of their goods or services.

The clauses were included in deals with Chile, New Zealand, the United States, Japan, Korea, Singapore, Thailand and the World Trade Organisation agreement on government procurement.

However, the department also revealed 94 per cent of the 70,330 contracts valued at $10,000 or over entered into by the commonwealth over the past financial year went to Australian businesses.

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