Should we be concerned about the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA)?
If negotiations for the TPPA succeed they will create a mega-treaty across nine or more countries that puts a straightjacket on the policies and laws our government can adopt for the next century and give massive new powers to corporations.Which countries are involved in these negotiations?
There are currently nine: the US and New Zealand, plus Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam. Japan, Canada and Mexico are in the wings.
When did negotiations begin and when are they expected to end?
There have been numerous rounds since negotiations began in March 2010. They originally aimed to finish it in late 2011; now they say 2013 (… or 2014 or … never?)
What is in the proposed agreement?
We don’t exactly know because the negotiations are secret and the only documents that are in the public domain have been leaked. Worse still, the nine governments agreed that none of the background documents will be released until four years after the negotiations end (or collapse), so we won’t be able to hold them accountable for any tradeoffs they make until they are no longer in power.
What kind of policies could be targeted in the negotiations?
We know from various sources that they include
– stronger restrictions on foreign investments
– tobacco control laws
– restrictions on sale and manufacture of GMOs and labeling of GM foods
– the Pharmac scheme for buying drugs and subsidies
– the ability to reverse privatisations in the future
– stronger regulation of mining
– parallel importing, especially for music and computer programmes
– intellectual property protection in the digital media
– hot money flows in and out of the country.
If it covers all these things why is it described as a ‘trade’ agreement?
That’s a clever branding exercise. This is really a charter of rights for foreign investors based in any of the TPP countries — think entertainment (Warners and Sony), pharmaceuticals (Merck and Pfizer), mining (RTZ and BP), tobacco (Philip Morris, BAT), retailers (Wal-Mart and Woolworths), finance sector (Merrill Lynch, Westpac, AIG, Macquarie, JP Morgan), agribusiness
(Cargill, Monsanto), private water operators (Bechtel, Veolia) and much more.
How would a TPPA give foreign investors special rights?
The lax rules on foreign investment would be locked in for the indefinite future, except for a few areas the government excluded in the agreement.
Foreign firms who might be affected by new laws would have to be consulted and the government would have to show how it had responded to their views.
Foreign investors could sue the government for hundreds of millions of dollars for breaching their rights under the TPPA, for example by changing our laws in ways that affect their expected profits or share value. The case would be heard in a secretive international tribunal, not in our domestic courts.
What we can do about it and how can we find out more?
- Get the word around all your networks, facebook pages, websites and media.
- Organize meetings and action around the TPPA. Ask your MPs, local government leaders, if they know what’s going on.
- Demand the government holds an inquiry to bring the negotiations into the daylight.
- Watch bulletin at tppwatch.org
- Join the TPPA Action Group facebook page: www.tppwatch.org
- Buy No Ordinary Deal, ed. Jane Kelsey from www.bwb.co.nz, bookseller or library.