TPP: What you need to know & what you can do about it

The Trans-Pacific Partnership – or TPP – is a massive trade deal covering 40 per cent of the world’s economy, between the US, Australia and 10 other Pacific Rim countries.

Except it’s not only – or even mainly – about trade. It is about rules for global corporations, which could prevent future governments from protecting the public interest.

The TPP allows foreign corporations to bypass our courts and sue our governments in international tribunals if they can argue that future laws could harm their investment (read: their profits). There are increasing numbers of cases against governments trying to protect the environment, access to medicines, and even over an increase to the minimum wage.

The TPP also gives more monopoly rights to big pharmaceutical companies, so that they can charge higher prices for medicines for longer.

Here in Australia this means our health system could pay hundreds of millions of dollars a year more for lifesaving biologics medicines (the kind that can treat serious diseases like cancer). In developing countries it means millions of people will simply go without the treatment they need.

The TPP gives extra copyright protections for big corporates at the expense of consumers and internet users.

The TPP was negotiated behind closed doors with detailed input from US corporate advisers, but not from the community. It shows – not only because of what the TPP does contain, but also because of what it doesn’t.

Despite promises, expert analysis shows that labour rights in the TPP are not effective or enforceable. Products of child or forced labour are not banned, and not all workers are protected. The agreement expands the use of temporary migrant labour here in Australia but provides no protections for their rights and removes the requirement that we test for whether local labour is available first.

TPP environmental standards are weak and not enforceable, and do not mention climate change. This contrasts with the legal rights of corporations to sue governments over environmental regulation.

And what about the economic benefits? According to a recent World Bank study any economic growth Australia experiences resulting from the TPP is likely to be negligible – their best guess is that it would only add about 0.7 per cent to economic growth by 2030.

Despite all these issues our Government wants to rush the TPP’s implementing legislation through Parliament,  refusing to commission an independent assessment of what the agreement will really mean for the Australian people.

There’s still a chance to stop the TPP before it locks us in to these destructive rules for decades to come.

Labor, independent and Greens senators have the majority in the Senate – if they vote no to this dodgy deal the Government won’t be able to ratify it.

With that vote likely to take place in the next few months, now is the time to take action.

Tell your MPs and especially your Senators that without a proper, unbiased assessment of the deal they should vote NO to the TPP’s implementing legislation.

For more information on the TPP, see: www.aftinet.org.au