Trans-Pacific Partnership

Environmental standards not enforceable

The TPP was supposed to include enforceable commitments by governments to at least seven international environment agreements. But  analysis by environmental law experts shows the text mentions only four, and only one - on trade in endangered species - has clearly enforceable commitments.

There is no mention of climate change. Global corporations could use ISDS to sue governments for taking action against climate change.

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No real protection for labour rights or migrant workers

Despite promises that the TPP would contain enforceable labour rights, governments only commit to implementing their own labour laws, not recognised international standards, and the products of forced and child labour are not banned.

Complaints can only be made if there is a “sustained or recurring” violation of labour rights in a manner affecting trade or investment, meaning public sector workers and others in non-traded sectors are not covered.

The enforcement process requires lengthy consultation and has not been effective in other agreements with similar clauses.

US Senator accuses Australia of trying to ‘steal’ US medicine patents in TPP

15 July 2016

A pro-trade US senator and US Senate Finance Committee chairman has been holding out on passing the TPP because he wants it to include even stronger monopoly rights on medicines.
Senator Orrin Hatch says that Australia "wants to steal US medicine patents” by refusing to agree to a huge 12-year data protection term for biologics medicines.
These are lifesaving and very expensive medicines being used to treat serious diseases like cancer, and each year of delay before generic versions can become available not only will cost our healthcare system millions but will also ultimately mean that many patients in need around the world will miss out.

The TPP will not pass US Congress this year: Senate majority leader

14 July 2016

US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConell says the TPP legislation will not pass Congress this year and that the new President should deal with it in 2017.  He said that the presidential campaign had made it virtually impossible to pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership in the “lame duck” session after the November elections. Read the full article.

Does the new Senate mean the TPP is dead?

6 July 2016

“One thing that is certain after Saturday’s election, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is dead, and along with it the Coalition’s economic agenda and narrative,” writes The Australia Institute’s Richard Denniss in New Matilda.

He predicts that the new cross-bench Senators, including Nick Xenophon, Jacqui Lambie and Pauline Hanson will oppose the TPP and other free trade deals because they cost Australian manufacturing workers jobs. Read his piece here.

If the Coalition does form Government, the votes of these Senators will be needed to pass legislation when Labor and the Greens are opposed. We know that the Greens and most other cross-benchers will vote against the TPP implementing legislation. The TPP also contradicts Labor policy, but they have not yet made a decision about the TPP legislation.

Denniss is optimistic that it’s unlikely that Labor will “pivot to the right” on economic management after Shorten’s shock success. He argues:

“So while in theory the ALP could offer the Coalition a lifeline for the ratification of its trade deals, the reality is that such a display of bipartisan contempt for the public’s hostility to trickle-down trade policies would be of even greater benefit to the new cross benchers than Turnbull’s decision to both change the Senate voting rules and call a DD.”

AFTINET has shown TPP’s many downsides for workers’ rights, public health and democracy. But we can’t be complacent, and need to keep up pressure for Labor to vote against the TPP’s implementing legislation.