What is the TPP?

The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) is an agreement that has been negotiated between Australia, the USA, New Zealand, Canada, Mexico, Peru, Chile, Singapore, Brunei, Malaysia and Japan.

It has over 20 chapters which include everything from labour and the environment, to intellectual property and telecommunications. Up until the 5th of November the text had been kept secret, now that it has been released many of the communities worst fears have been confirmed. Pages will be updated in the next week to reflect what has been found.

Secret Negotiations and No Public Access!!!

Unfortunately the text of the agreement has been kept secret until after the cabinet have signed it (treaty process) which realistically removes any chance of important changes being made. While the government does consult with stakeholders during the negotiation stage, these meetings are little more than public relations exercises than allowing for any meaningful input from the public. How can independent experts or community and other organisations be expected to give proper feedback when there is no information about the content apart from the leaked texts?

So why should you be worried?

The text of the agreement is over 6,000 pages long and while it is going to take a while for the full impact of the agreement to be understood there are some very clear concerns;

Australia is still at risk for being sued by companies and other investors. The final text reveals as feared that the Investor – State Dispute Settlement process has been included and despite widespread criticism from the legal community it still allows for conflicts of interest in the panel of judges and no accountability in the decisions they make as there continues to be no precedents or appeals in the ISDS system. Thankfully, due to significant pressure from community health groups, there is an explicit exemption for tobacco related policies passed by governments. This will help other countries adopt health measures like we have in Australia and should stop future cases like the Phillip Morris case against Australia from occurring again in the future. However, while it is great that this has been done it also highlights the lack of faith that negotiators have in the more general protections afforded to other health policy areas as well as areas such as the environment and labour.

Sustainability of the health system at risk. According to a report if the extended patent rights for biologic drugs were to be applied to data from 2013/14 it would have cost Australian tax payers an additional $205,000,000. Given that the Australian government has already been questioning the sustainability of the health system, any potential increase in cost such as this is very concerning.

Toothless provisions to protect the environment and worker rights. It is disappointing that the interests of corporations are protected in strongly enforceable wording while at the same time protections for the environment and working people are largely limited to voluntary measures or overly complex and hard to enforce measures. Furthermore, when it comes to worker rights in the TPP, similar working in agreements between Canada the USA and Mexico in NAFTA as well as between the USA and Peru have failed to see any enforcement, which has to make us wonder exactly how effective these provisions are and if they amount to anything more than window dressing.

The ruse of Anti-Trade

The government tries to dismiss the critics of TPP as anti-trade, opposed to all foreign investment and has even described critics as ‘conspiracy theorists’. Neither of these statements are true and they are disrespectful to the diverse community members and industry organisations across our country and international community who have concerns about how the TPP would affect this country and region for decades to come.

 

Okay, I’m worried, so now what can I do?

In the menu you will see the ‘Take Action’ tab, there you will find a host of things that you can do to help stop the trans pacific partnership.  However, possibly one of the most important things you can do right now is spread the word , a good start is to share this website everywhere you can, share it on social media, your email networks, text the web address to your friends and family, anything you do will help and have a big impact.

 


Articles Of Interest:

Leading arbitration lawyer says there are critical loopholes in the Trans-Pacific Partnership’s investment chapter that leave Australia wide open – The Guardian

On the Wrong Side of Globalization – A New York Times article by Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz

iiNet joins web giants to condemn secret TPP talks – Plea to TPP negotiators by over 100 web giants and organisations

The TPP has been released and our concerns have been vindicated – The Drum (ABC)

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