Failed Trans-Pacific (TPP) talks show folly of trading
August 1, 2015
Failed Trans-Pacific (TPP) talks
show folly of trading away access to medicines and giving
foreign investors rights to sue governments despite
“The failure of TPP Ministers to reach agreement in what was supposed to be the final round of negotiations vindicates the deep concerns of community groups that the TPP is secretly trading away issues like access to affordable medicines and governments’ right to regulate without being sued by foreign corporations. These are issues which should be decided though open democratic parliamentary processes, not secretly traded away for token access to sugar or dairy markets,” said Dr Patricia Ranald, Coordinator of the Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network.
At a media conference held at 12.30 PM Australian EST, TPP ministers announced no agreement. They claimed “significant progress” and said “intensive work” will continue, but have not set a date for another meeting.
“We are pleased that governments failed to reach agreement on key sticking points about extension of monopolies and corporate rights which should not even be on the table in so–called free trade negotiations. These are:
• Extension of monopolies on costly biologic medicines which would cost the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme hundreds of millions of dollars for every year of delay for cheaper versions to become available. This would lead to pressure for higher prices at the chemist.
• Special rights for foreign investors to sue governments in international tribunals if they can argue that a change in domestic law or policy ‘harms” their investment. There are increasing numbers of cases against health and environmental law, like the Philip Morris tobacco company case against Australia’s plain packaging law, which has cost the Australian Government $50 million in legal fees and is still not finished after four years. Proposed ‘safeguards’ have not prevented such cases.”
“The US has been driving this agenda on behalf of its most powerful export industries for five years. It is now rushing to finish to a timetable set by the US presidential elections, because the TPP is so unpopular in the US that neither side wants to defend it in an electoral race. This deadline is now unlikely to be met. The Australian and other governments should continue to resist these proposals, and should soon recognize that the TPP project will not succeed and should be abandoned,” said Dr Ranald.
Dr Patricia Ranald
Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network (AFTINET)