TPPA - Santiago Chile 5th Round of Negotiations

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Santiago, Chile 14th to 18th February – 5th Round News:

A “Release the Text” campaign has commenced in Santiago. In addition analysis of potential “Financial Services” and “Investment” chapters have also  been released in Santiago by civil societies concerned about the negotiation of the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement. international health Groups have also joined the campaign and called for safeguards for medicines in the TPPA.

Items on this page are:

  1. End secrecy in US Trans-Pacific trade negotiations say unions and community groups.
  2. Critical Paper Links TPPA to Financial Instability, Challenges Negotiators to Release Draft Text for Further Analysis.
  3. Critique of likely TPPA investment chapter challenges limits on regulatory sovereignty.
  4. Safeguarding Access to Medicines in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement – 15th February 2011.
  5. International Trade Unions demands on an Investment Chapter in the TPPA. 4th February 2011.

 


End secrecy in US Trans-Pacific trade negotiations say unions and community groups.


The fifth round of negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) between the US, Australia, and seven other countries starts in Santiago, Chile, today. Over 30 Australian community groups, including the ACTU and 8 national unions, the Catholic Social Justice Council, Australian Conservation Foundation, Greenpeace, the Public Health Association and pensioner groups are calling on governments to release draft text of the proposed agreement.

“These negotiations raise many of the issues that were bitterly debated in the US-Australia Free Trade Agreement,” Harvey Purse, Campaigner for the Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network (AFTINET) said today.

“US pharmaceutical companies want more changes to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme so they can charge higher prices for medicines, agribusiness companies want to abolish GE food labelling and media and services companies want to weaken Australian content rules in media and in government purchasing. These are health, social and cultural policies that should be decided through democratic parliamentary processes, not secretly signed away in trade negotiations,” explained Mr Purse.

“The essence of democracy is the right of the people to know what governments are doing and debate policies and laws through parliamentary processes. Instead, these negotiations are conducted in secret. Citizens and legislators would never tolerate the text of domestic legislation being kept secret until it was passed”, said Mr Purse.

“Four rounds of TPPA negotiations have taken place in secret and draft texts are now being discussed. We reject the argument that greater transparency would undermine negotiations. That presumes that negotiators are discussing policies that would not survive the sunshine of scrutiny. Publication would mean more diverse comments which can only be positive. Precedents for releasing texts in the trade negotiations include the 153-member World Trade Organization (WTO), and the recently completed Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA),” he said.

“We urge the Australian Government to support the publication of both draft texts and other relevant documents for public discussion” he said. The full statement and list of signatories are attached.

Release the Text sign-on letters have also been produced by civil societies in Malaysia, New Zealand and the US and, along with the Australian letter, are being presented to all 9 country delegations in Santiago. The signatures represent millions of citizens from the negotiating countries.

A copy of each letter is available from our resources page. To download the documents follow this link to our TPPA Campaign Resources page.

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Critical Paper Links TPPA to Financial Instability, Challenges Negotiators to Release Draft Text for Further Analysis.


Negotiators on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) meeting for a fifth round of talks in Santiago this week will be presented with a mock draft text and expert analysis that links the proposed agreement to continued financial instability.*

The paper authored by Professor Jane Kelsey from the University of Auckland and Sanya Reid Smith from Malaysia-based Third World Network, with assistance from other investment experts, will form the basis of a stakeholder presentation on Tuesday.

“The post-2007 global financial crisis exposed the chronic instability of a highly liberalised, deregulated and globally integrated financial system. No one knows how or where the next crisis will unfold”, said Professor Kelsey.

“It is time to rethink the failed model of financial deregulation that has been repeatedly locked in and ratcheted up through previous free trade agreements.”

“Far from recognising that need, the TPPA negotiations appear to be bolting the door closed on the options for governments to re-regulate the financial sector and impose controls on speculative capital flows in ways that meet the needs of their people”.

“We know there is a draft negotiating text. It has not been released for independent analysis and informed debate. To fill that gap and provide a basis for our analysis, we have produced a mock text based on the existing free trade agreements between the United States and Australia, Chile, Peru and Singapore”, said Professor Kelsey.

Co-author Sanya Reid Smith pointed to the experience of the Asian Financial Crisis to highlight the critical importance of the TPPA negotiations for Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei and New Zealand that don’t have a free trade agreement with the US.

“The Asian Financial Crisis through to the latest global meltdown show that every single person has a stake in the rules to govern financial markets and the corporations that run them. Governments cannot negotiate agreements that set those rules in secret”, said Ms Smith.

The paper assesses the risks in terms of contributors to financial instability, high-risk financial investment rules, constraints on capital controls and sovereign debt restructuring, and the inadequacies of the protection for prudential measures.

The authors identify several options that would help make an agreement fit for the 21st century, by not restricting a government’s authority to regulate the financial sector and financial transactions, and use capital controls and restructure sovereign debt to prevent and mitigate financial crises.

However, they conclude that the only truly effective way to provide the necessary regulatory space to governments is to exclude coverage of financial services, financial investment and currency movements from a TPPA.

To download the documents follow the link to our TPPA Campaign Resources page.

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Critique of likely TPPA investment chapter challenges limits on regulatory sovereignty.

The fifth round of Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) negotiations begin on Monday 13 February 2011 in Santiago, Chile between Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States of America and Vietnam.

The talks will seek to advance negotiations on a draft investment text that was compiled in Auckland in December 2010. Because that text is being kept secret, experts have prepared their own mock text based on existing US free trade agreements (FTAs) with TPPA countries as the basis for analysing the constraints the Agreement might impose on governments’ ability to regulate in the public interest.

The analysis of this mock text, published today, shows that a TPPA could, amongst other impacts:

  • open more land and natural resources to foreign ownership or control, an issue that is already highly sensitive in a number of TPPA countries;
  • make it harder to require that foreign investors employ and train locals, transfer technology and reinvest profits; and
  • make it harder for governments to take public health initiatives on issues like smoking, alcohol or breast feeding.

The investment chapter also reveals major constraints on governments’ ability to adopt pre-emptive measures and responses to financial crises, including capital controls. A separate draft text and analysis have been prepared specifically on this issue and are also being released today.

These problems are compounded by the right of investors to sue governments directly through international arbitration for monetary compensation. Some cases involving these kinds of treaties seek tens of billions of dollars.

There is no persuasive reason for governments to endow investors with such powers. There is no convincing evidence that they increase foreign investment flows, a potential consideration for developing countries in the talks, such as Malaysia and Vietnam. Yet even if these kinds of rights were given to investors in the TPPA, studies show that this would not necessarily increase foreign direct investment.

Investment provisions including broad definitions of investment, pre-establishment rights, expropriation, minimum standard of treatment, free movement of capital and investor-state arbitration have already caused developed and developing country governments significant problems, therefore the analysis recommends these not be included in any TPPA.

Harvey Purse from the Australian Fair Trade & Investment Network and a co-author of the analysis said that Australians were deeply opposed to these powers when the free trade agreement was negotiated with the US. “We fought hard to stop the right of investors to sue the government and succeeded. Now the US is having a second shot through the TPPA.”

“Philip Morris is already demanding these rights in the TPPA in order to attack our anti-smoking laws”, Purse pointed out.

Sanya Reid Smith from Third World Network and a co-author of the paper noted that strong investor rights have already created problems for developed and developing country governments, leading legal scholars to conclude that ‘There is a strong moral as well as policy case for governments to withdraw from investment treaties and to oppose investor-state arbitration’.

“Given this, a TPPA that is being concluded for the entire 21st century must not repeat these mistakes of the past”, Ms Smith said.

To download the documents follow the link to our TPPA Campaign Resources page.

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Safeguarding Access to Medicines in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement – 15th February 2011.

Trade Ministers from the nine negotiating countries were sent a letter from International Health groups about safeguarding access to medicines in the TPPA.

“We, the undersigned civil society organizations, write to you regarding intellectual property provisions in the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA). We are concerned that intellectual property measures that may be included in an eventual agreement could undermine patients’ access to vital medicines, and contravene promises of a new trade model and “21st century” agreement.

Nearly two billion people still lack regular access to medicines in developing countries. Although several important factors contribute to this, one critical problem is the high price of monopolized medicines. Intellectual property provisions that go beyond the standard required by the World Trade Organization’s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (WTO’s TRIPS) – so-called “TRIPS-plus” measures – restrict generic competition, leading to medicine prices that are unaffordable for most people, and healthcare costs that can restrict health programs’ abilities to provide treatment or other services, in both developing and wealthier countries.”

A copy of the letter can be downloaded from our TPPA Resources page.

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International Trade Unions demands on an Investment Chapter in the TPPA. 4th February 2011.

“As trade unions representing millions of working men and women in the countries currently negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Trade Agreement, we write to express concern about the ongoing trade negotiations. We are not opposed in principle to trade agreements; however, we can only support a trade agreement if it is balanced, foments the creation of good jobs, protects the rights and interests of working people and promotes a healthy environment. In past trade agreements, one of the most troubling aspects has been the inclusion of investment chapters that provided excessive rights to multinational corporations at the expense of regulators and ordinary citizens. Many of us have raised serious and well-documented concerns on this issue in past negotiations only to have seen them ignored in the final agreement. This cannot happen again.”

This letter sets forth the view among the undersigned trade unions regarding the changes that we must see in the TPP regarding the investment chapter in order to view it as a truly “21st Century” trade agreement.

  1. Replace investor-state dispute settlement with a state-to-state mechanism.
  2. Minimum Standard of Treatment.
  3. Definition of Investment.
  4. Indirect Expropriation.
  5. National Treatment.
  6. Labor.
  7. Investment, Financial Services, and Financial Stability.
  8. Taxation.

The letter goes into detail of the Trade Union demands in each of the areas listed above.

A copy of the letter can be downloaded from our TPPA Resources page.

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