Rebranded TPP 11 deal: a mess of side deals with no detail, but ISDS and temporary migrant workers remain

Media release, 24 January 2018: “The rebranded TPP 11 outcome announced today appears to be a mess of separate deals cobbled together to meet issues raised by Canada and others, which Trade Minister Steve Ciobo has described as “18 free trade agreements” for Australia.

As usual, the government has released only positive information about possible market access gains from the deal, but the full text of the changes is not available for public scrutiny. The full text will only be released in March at the time of the signing of the deal,” Dr Patricia Ranald, AFTINET Convener said today

Senior trade officials announced last night that the 11 countries in the rebranded Progressive Comprehensive TPP had reached agreement on the text to be signed on March 8 in Chile.  This follows further negotiations on issues raised by Canada, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei.

“It appears that there will be 11 new side letters between Canada and the other 10 countries on cultural issues, and new side letters on automobile industry car access between Canada and Japan Malaysia and Australia. There will also be new side letters between Vietnam and 10 other countries which appear to weaken obligations on labour rights issues,” said Dr Ranald.

“These changes are in addition to the 20 clauses which have been temporarily suspended pending the United States rejoining the deal. Other governments had only reluctantly agreed to US proposals on stronger monopolies on biologic medicines and stronger copyright monopolies to gain access to the US market. “

“The deal still contains special rights for foreign investors to bypass national courts and sue governments for millions of dollars in unfair international tribunals over changes to domestic laws, known as ISDS. It would also restrict future governments from re-regulating essential services like energy or financial services, despite demonstrated market failures, and it would result in more vulnerable temporary migrant workers, without testing if local workers are available,” said Dr Ranald.

“This is another example of the flawed process in which  trade deals are negotiated in secret and we don’t see the result until after they are signed. We call for the immediate release of the full text of the changed deal before it is signed and for independent studies of its economic, health and  environmental impacts,” said Dr Ranald.

Contact Dr Patricia Ranald 0419 695 841