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TPP misses another deadline at APEC meeting

TPP misses another deadline at APEC meeting as dangerous concessions loom in China FTA

“Leaders from the 12-nation TPP negotiations meeting on the sidelines of the larger APEC meeting, have missed yet another deadline to close the deal. This partly reflects the influence on governments of public resistance to the US TPP agenda. This agenda includes more monopoly rights for higher medicine prices, more copyright restrictions on the Internet and special rights for foreign investors to sue governments for damages if a change in domestic law can be claimed to harm their investment, known as ISDS,” Dr Patricia Ranald, Coordinator of the Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network (AFTINET) said today.

“The TPP talks have dragged on for nearly 5 years with many missed deadlines. The US and Japan also continue to disagree about market access to their own agricultural and vehicle markets, and have not made market access offers to other countries. Australia has almost nothing to gain in market access because it already has free trade agreements with most of the TPP countries, including the US and Japan,” said Dr Ranald.

“Despite no market offers from the most powerful players, Australia and other TPP governments are being pressured to make more and more concessions in areas of domestic policy in the vain hope of some crumbs of increased market access,” said Dr Ranald.

“Medicines, copyright and other public interest regulation should be decided through open democratic parliamentary processes, not secretly traded away behind closed doors. The full text of the TPP should be release before it is signed, so we can test the government’s claims about any benefits,” added Dr Ranald.

“The Coalition Government has also placed itself in a weak bargaining position by appearing desperate to meet a deadline next week for completion of the China free trade agreement, thus paving the way for further concessions. China is already our largest trading partner, and Australia has very little to offer. One danger is that the Government will agree to demands from major project investors that they be able to import most of the workforce from China, without labour market testing to determine whether locals are available,” said Dr Ranald.

“Another danger, as with the TPP, is the inclusion of investor rights to sue governments over changes in domestic legislation. We could face a scenario where investors in major projects sue local, State or Federal governments for damages over a change in environmental or other regulation. Such concessions are clearly against the national interest,” said Dr Ranald.

“It is not acceptable to grandly announce that that the deal has been signed when the details cannot be scrutinised. The full text of the China free trade agreement should be released before it is signed so we can see what concessions have been made,” said Dr Ranald.

ENDS

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