Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement

The Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) is a proposed new regional free trade agreement which builds on an existing Free Trade Agreement between New Zealand, Chile, Singapore and Brunei Darussalam. The negotiations now include the United States, Australia, Peru, Vietnam and Malaysia, with several others including Japan expressing interest in joining.

Official negotiations began in Melbourne on 15th March 2010. Four negotiation meetings were held during 2010 and a further 5 official negotiating rounds have been scheduled during 2011. The following are the remaining dates and locations of negotiating rounds for 2011-12.

  • Location and Timing of 10th Round: The 10th round from 1-9 March, Melbourne Australia
  • details of future rounds is currently unavailable, we have been informed that a total of 5 are scheduled for 2012

AFTINET Community Education Leaflets:

Copy of Community Education Leaflet - "Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement: Don't Trade Away Health". (UPDATED - FEB 2012)

Copy of Community Education Leaflet - "Trans-Pacific Partnership Free Trade Agreement: Workers' Right, not Corporate Rights".

Copy of Community Education Leaflet - “Resurrecting the US Free Trade Agreement: what US business wants from the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement and what we can do about it.

TPPA resources, including important websites and information are available on our TPPA resources page by following this link.

Follow this link to the TPPA Health Issues Page.

Latest News:

TPPA Campaign: Report on the Melbourne Round of Negotiations 1st-9th March 2011

Report on the March Trans-Pacific negotiations in Melbourne: Fair Deal or no Deal: by Dr Patricia Ranald

Public activities

AFTINET issued media releases leading up to and during the negotiations held on March 1-9 in Melbourne, copies of which are on the website. Our first media release, with civil society partners from New Zealand, Malaysia and the US, deplored the strong influence of international corporations on the negotiations, the one per cent dominating the ninety-nine per cent.

An example of corporate influence backfired in the week before the negotiations, when a group of US corporations, including the Philip Morris tobacco company, sponsored a lavish dinner in Washington and invited the ambassadors from the TPPA negotiating countries.

The Public Health Association (PHAA) of Australia successfully lobbied to get the Australian government to withdraw from this event because Philip Morris is currently trying to sue the Australian government for damages over its plain packaging legislation, and this was reported in the Sydney Morning Herald.

Another example which was more like corporate bullying, was the letter written by a group of US companies, including Philip Morris, to President Obama, complaining about the Australian Government's policy of opposition to investor-state dispute processes. In response, Australian Trade Minister Emerson made a widely reported statement saying that the government stood by its policy, which had been endorsed by Cabinet and the ALP conference. This had an important positive impact on the negotiations.

AFTINET, the PHAA and other health organisations publicised their letter to the Prime Minister, Trade Minister and Health Minister asking the government not to support US proposals on intellectual property for medicines and on reducing governments’ ability to regulate medicine prices. This letter emphasised the impact of these proposals on developing countries as well as in Australia. This was reported on ABC Radio National current affairs program The World Today. Dr Deborah Gleeson from PHAA and Dr Kyla Tienhaara from ANU also had an article criticising the US medicines proposals and the investor state dispute process published in the Medical Journal of Australia, which led to interviews with Australian Doctor and other health publications.

AFTINET and our member organisations also received media coverage in the Sydney Morning Herald, the Australian, Canberra Times, ABC National Radio News, ABC National Radio Breakfast, ABC Radio Australia, SBS news, Brisbane Times, IT news, and numerous websites. Links to these stories can be found on the AFTINET website. It was disappointing that the Melbourne Age did not cover the negotiations, apart from a letter to the editor about medicines from Dr David Legge, of the PHAA.

AFTINET and the ACTU sponsored a public forum on Free Trade or Fair Trade? held on March 1 at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, featuring Ged Kearney, president of the ACTU, Dr Deborah Gleeson from the Public Health Association, Dr Kyla Tienhaara from the Australian National University, Lori Wallach, from US Public Citizen and Professor Jane Kelsey from the University of Auckland.  This was well attended by a wide range of people from unions,  health, environment, student and other organisations, with lively questions and discussion. A forum on March 5 on the TPPA and public health sponsored by the Public Health Association, was also well attended by a different audience, mainly composed of health workers and health students. AFTINET distributed bundles of leaflets to unions, health, groups and other community organisations at these events, altogether distributing about 2000 leaflets, and also sold T-shirts and copies of the book on the TPPA, No Ordinary Deal.

The rally sponsored and organised by the Victorian Trades Hall Council on March 8 had 20 participants, partly because it was held on International Women's Day, when there were many other events. AFTINET had advised against this date. The Maritime Union, CEPU and ETU had flags at the rally.

The Australian Greens have an ongoing commitment to working with AFTINET and other NGO’s on the Campaign about the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement. Australian Greens Member of Parliament, Adam Bandt, addressed the TPPA Public Rally held in Melbourne on 8th March 2012. A transcript of Adam’s speech is available form his website: 

AFTINET also made some new and renewed contacts in Melbourne, which we hope can develop into expanded membership and activity.

Stakeholder events

AFTINET, the ACTU, unions and the other international civil society and health organisations attended the formal stakeholder events to communicate directly with negotiators, and had a strong presence at these events. We were involved in organising a lunch for investment negotiators, which was well attended, and in making formal presentations at the stakeholder forum held on Sunday March 4, which was also well attended by negotiators. Our critical presentations and arguments on labour issues, investment, intellectual property and regulation of medicine prices were stronger than the business voices at the stakeholder events. We received feedback that these presentations made a strong impression on negotiators.

There was also a strong presence from the generic medicines associations from different countries, including Australia, which argued strongly against the US intellectual property and medicines proposals, and from small IT and public access organisations which argued against the US proposals to tighten copyright restrictions on the Internet.

We also had an opportunity to speak directly with the Minister for Trade about investment and medicines issues at the reception held for negotiators and stakeholders on March 6.

The formal briefing held by chief negotiators for stakeholders on March 7 was as usual, not very informative, and even a representative from the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry complained about this and asked for the negotiating texts to be released.

Overall, the strong voices from civil society at the negotiations helped to consolidate the policy of the Australian government against investor-state dispute processes, and the presentations criticising the US policy on intellectual property and medicines made an impression on Australian and other negotiators. We continue to ask for negotiating texts to be released, and for the text of the whole agreement to be released before it is signed by governments.

However, the US negotiators are also clearly pressing other negotiators to complete the negotiations as soon as possible, and in secrecy, before the US presidential elections to be held in November. There have been several secret “intersessional” negotiations at which there is no stakeholder consultation. The next round of full negotiations is likely to be held in May, in Dallas, USA, followed by negotiations in New Zealand in July, but secret intersessional negotiations will be held between these two dates. We need to maintain and intensify our campaign for a fair deal or no deal at all on the TPPA.

Copies of Audio files for these events are progressively being placed on the web. Links to those available can be found on our TPPA resources page.

TPPA Petition to House of Representatives - Update:

The AFTINET Petition on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement was presented to parliament, in the House of Representatives, by Stephen Jones, Member for Throsby. The petition contained nearly 3,300 signatures and is a great effort by all those who collected signatures.

With great timing the petition was presented to the House of Representatives on the first day of negotiating round that took place in Melbourne from 1st to 9th March 2012.

The following is an extract from the parliamentary Hansard:

Mr STEPHEN JONES: I present the petition on behalf of some 3,270 citizens of Australia who are concerned about some aspects of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement on free trade that is being negotiated with the United States, New Zealand, Chile, Peru, Brunei, Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam. This petition is being considered by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Petitions and has been certified as being in accordance with the standing orders. The petitioners are particularly concerned about the possibility that this trans-Pacific partnership could undermine Australian policies with regard to our Pharmaceutical Benefit Scheme, our intellectual property rights, our labour rights and our environmental protections.

I am a strong believer in the importance to our national prosperity of open trade arrangements. However, these multilateral trade agreements should be used and seen as an opportunity to enhance our intellectual property standards internationally, our labour relations and labour laws, and our laws in relation to environmental protection. They should not, at any cost, be undermining our important Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. I commend the petition to the House.
The petition has been referred by the House of Representatives to the Minister for trade, Dr Craig Emerson.


Questions in Parliament:

Australian Greens Deputy Leader, Senator Christine Milne, asked some interesting questions recently on the TPPA. The following links directly to both a text and audio version of the exchange in the Senate.

Is the Trans Pacific Partnership negotiation dead in the water? – 13/03/12


Latest Media Reports: 

The Conversation: 20 March 2012, 6.15am AEST.
Australia should defend neighbours in Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations - by Dr Deborah Gleeson.

New Matilda: 15 March 2012.
Is Free Trade Worth it? by Ben Eltham

Asia Times Online: 13 March 2012.
Trade pact reveals US hunger – by Neena Bhandari
There was significant coverage of the Melbourne round of negotiations a listing of media reports is available, follow this link to read them and other media reports on the AFTINET Campaign follow this link to read them. 

Campaign victory: Fair Trade amendments to the ALP Platform

Our campaign for fair trade had an impact at the ALP National Conference, held at Darling Harbour from 2nd-3rd December 2011.

The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, a member of AFTINET, moved amendments to the trade section of the Australian Labor Party (ALP) platform, which is the public statement of the party's policy.

For more details follow this link .

November 2011 - Pacific Trade Pact misses APEC deadline as community groups slam US proposals on medicines and corporate rights

“The APEC meeting in Hawaii was meant to conclude the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, a new free trade deal between the US, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Peru, Brunei, Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam.  But the deal has been delayed because of controversial proposals tabled by the US, and negotiations will continue into 2012,” Dr  Patricia Ranald, Convener of the Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network of 60 community groups (AFTINET), said today.

For a full copy of the media release follow this link.

October 2011 - UNITED STATES UNDERMINES ACCESS TO MEDICINES IN AUSTRALIA & PACIFIC - a joint media release from AFTINET and the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA) issued on 25/10/2011

AFTINET and PHAA jointly commented on leaked documents on the United States position. A copy of the leaked documents is avilable from :

Leaked proposals for the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement confirm United States (US) efforts to undermine access to medicines in Australia and the Pacific, according to the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA) and the Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network (AFTINET).  “The Australian public should be concerned about the effects secret trade discussions being conducted in Peru this week could have on the affordability of medicines in Australia and other countries in the Asia Pacific region,” said PHAA Spokesperson Dr Deborah Gleeson.

Leaked texts outlining US proposals for the TPP free trade agreement confirm earlier reports that the US is seeking to include provisions that would raise the cost of medicines, extend the monopoly rights of pharmaceutical companies over life-saving drugs and place new restrictions on pharmaceutical reimbursement programs like Australia’s Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).

“These sorts of provisions have no place in trade agreements.  The operation of the PBS and similar schemes in other countries should not be determined by international trade rules that can override domestic policies,” said AFTINET Convenor Dr Patricia Ranald. 

For a full copy of the media release follow this link.

October 2011 - Letter to Trade Minister calling for democratic scrutiny of the TPPA.  

The ninth round of negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) between the US, Australia, and seven other countries starts in Lima, Peru, on October 19. Over 25 Australian community groups, including the ACTU and 7 national unions, the Catholic Social Justice Council and Uniting World, the Australian Conservation Foundation, the Public Health Association and pensioner groups are calling on governments to release draft text of the proposed agreement, and to release a document which reportedly restricts access to negotiating documents for four years after the conclusion of the negotiations.

For a copy of the Letter and media release follow this link.   

September 2011 - Leaflet on Trading away public health? Health issues in the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement

The Australian government is negotiating a Trans- Pacific Partnership free trade agreement with the United States, New Zealand, Chile, Peru, Brunei, Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam.
But the agenda on health issues is being set by giant US corporations. Leaked US documents reveal that pharmaceutical companies are demanding higher prices for medicines through more rights to delay access to cheaper generic medicines, and changes to the Australian Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. US tobacco companies like Philip Morris are demanding the right to sue governments over proposed tobacco plain packaging legislation. Negotiations are ongoing. We must urge our government to stand by its policies and refuse these demands. On 1st September, 2011 AFTINET released a new community education leaflet on Health issues in the TPPA.

Investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS): the threat to health, environment and other social regulation.

Paper presented at the Stakeholders Forum, eighth round of Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, September 10, 2011, Chicago, USA. Follow this link to download the full paper.

Summary: This paper provides a brief overview of the experience of investor state disputes settlement (ISDS) and the debate about ISDS in Australia, which resulted in its exclusion from the Australia-US Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA) negotiated in 2004. The evidence on ISDS was re-examined by the Australian Productivity Commission in its 2010 Report, which found no evidence to justify ISDS but found evidence of considerable policy and financial risk to legitimate social regulation. ISDS action by the Philip Morris Company against Australian tobacco plain packaging legislation under a 1993 Hong Kong-Australia bilateral investment treaty has further influenced Australian government policy against ISDS, and has probably strengthened government and public opposition.

June 2011: Leaflet on Workers Rights v the TPPA:

AFTINET has published a new leaflet about the TPPA called:

Workers’ rights, not corporate rights

The Australian government is negotiating a Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement with the US, New Zealand, Chile, Peru, Brunei, Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam. But the agenda is being set by giant US corporations. They have made public submissions saying they oppose commitments to workers’ rights in the agreement. And they want to use the negotiations to undermine local jobs and fair employment conditions for government contracts, to reduce policies for Australian content in film and television, and to charge higher prices for medicines. This US business agenda is about more rights for corporation, but less rights for workers, and less ability for governments to make laws in the public interest.

AFTINET wishes to acknowledge and thank the SPSF for its support which has enabled the production of this leaflet.

Follow this link to download an electronic copy of the leaflet.

AFTINET is able to supply bulk copies of the leaflet but will need you to cover the postage costs. If you wish to order bulk copies please download an order form by following this link or call AFTINET on 02 9212 7242.

TPPA Health Impacts:

The People's Health Movement Australia (PHMOz) is concerned about proposed intellectual property and investment provisions in the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) that could undermine public health regulation and access to essential medicine.PHM Oz has published an analysis on their website:

"The Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement: Implications for public health regulation and access to medicine."

Follow this link to their website.

What you can do in the Campaign:

  • Check back regularly and follow the links below to take action and to find out more about the campaign.
  • You can place a link to the AFTINET website on your Facebook, personal internet or other social media page and urge people to follow the link and sign the petition. Copy this link and place it on your page:
  • You can send an on-line email directly to Dr Emerson.
  • You can download and send a letter to Trade Minister Dr Craig Emerson by following this link. (Both the email and letter to Dr Craig Emerson have been updated to take account of the new trade policy announced in April.)
  • You can organise a visit to your local Member of Parliament to let them know your concerns about the TPPA, use the Community Education Leaflet as a talking point. 

Other Resources:

A book on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.

AFTINET is pleased to announce to members that a new book on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Free Trade Agreement is available for purchase, with AFTINET benefiting from Australian sales of the book.

No Ordinary Deal
Unmasking the Trans-Pacific Partnership Free Trade Agreement.
Edited by Jane Kelsey
Published by Allen & Unwin

Jane Kelsey and her international team of expert commentators, including Dr Patricia Ranald, expose the myths of yet another neo-liberal adventure.

Order form can be downloaded by following this link.

Community Education Leaflet:

On Wednesday 16th June 2010, in the Jubilee Room of NSW Parliament House, AFTINET held a successful public meeting to launch our new publication, a community education leaflet about the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) called:

“Resurrecting the US Free Trade Agreement: what US business wants from the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement and what we can do about it”.

An electronic copy of the leaflet is available for download by following this link.

AFTINET is able to supply bulk copies of the leaflet but will need you to cover the postage costs.

If you wish to order bulk copies please download an order form by following this link or call AFTINET on 02 9212 7242.

Resources are available on our resources page

Reports and Information from Negotiating Rounds:

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. internationjal health Groups have also joined the campaign and called for safegaurds for medicines in the TPPA.

For details and to download papers follow this link.

Report and News on 4th Round of Negotiations:

The AFTINET Trade Justice campaigner, Harvey Purse, attended the Auckland negotiations on Monday 6th and Tuesday 7th December, 2011 and a meeting of civil society groups on Sunday 5th. Much thanks needs to be extended to the SPSF, AMWU and ANF for their financial assistance, which ensured that AFTINET was present in Auckland to lend support to our New Zealand allies and take a look on the inside. AMWU Representative, Don Sutherland and NTEU Representative, Ted Murphy, also attended the meeting.

For further detail follow this link to TPPA Fourth Round report and associated documents.

Campaign Sign On and Background:

Follow this link for more information and to see the origins of this campaign