TPP last ditch talks: Turnbull should refuse shameful trade-offs on medicines, investor rights

MEDIA RELEASE  September 24, 2015

Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiators are meeting from September 26 ahead of a TPP Trade Ministers meeting from September 30 in Atlanta, Georgia in a desperate final attempt to reach a deal this year,” Dr Patricia Ranald, Coordinator of the Australian Fair Trade and investment Network said today.   

“Our network, representing 60 community groups, including church, public health, environmental, union, aid and development and pensioner organisations has sought a meeting with Prime Minister Turnbull to advocate that Australia should not agree to stronger monopolies on biologic medicines, draconian copyright rules on the Internet and to foreign investor rights to sue governments for damages over domestic legislation (ISDS). The Prime Minister has pledged to be more transparent and consultative and to listen to the community so we hope he will respond to this request.”

A study by health experts shows that the TPP proposed extension of data protection monopolies on biologic medicines from 5 to 8 years would cost the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) $205 million in one year. Tobacco companies are resisting attempts to exempt tobacco regulation from ISDS, meaning that Australia could face more challenges to future tobacco regulation like the Philip Morris ISDS case. Medicines and tobacco control policies should not be signed away in a trade agreement,” said Dr Ranald.

“The Atlanta meetings have been billed as the final attempt to reach a deal this year. We understand that negotiations between the US, Japan, Mexico and Canada on market access for agriculture and vehicles are still ongoing, and that the outcome will influence Australia’s negotiations with the US and Japan on agricultural market access for sugar and other agricultural exports.”

“The danger is that Australia will agree to stronger monopolies on biologic medicines and to investor rights to sue governments in return for token access to US sugar and other agricultural markets.  We ask the Prime Minister and Trade Minister Robb to maintain opposition to stronger medicine monopolies and investor rights to sue governments as red lines, which cannot be crossed. A spoonful of sugar should not make medicines go up in price.”

“The Australian government should resist these trade-offs. AFTINET will be closely monitoring and providing comment on the negotiations,” said Dr Ranald.

September 26-30: TPP negotiators meet in Atlanta, Georgia

September 30: TPP Trade Ministers meet in Atlanta to finalise the deal

For more information contact Dr Patricia Ranald 0419 695 841