TPP

  • What is the highly secretive TPP ? A USA driven initiative against China’s economic domination ? 
    • TPP : Trans-Pacific Partnership is a proposed Treaty which covers  goods, services, investment, financial services, government procurement, and temporary entry markets – see DFAT TPP FAQ website and Wikipedia article.
    • Broad aims : To encompass both new and traditional trade and investment issues, supporting the creation and retention of jobs and promoting economic development in our countries. The deepest and broadest possible liberalization of trade and investment will ensure the greatest benefits for countries’ large and small manufacturers, service providers, farmers, and ranchers, as well as workers, innovators, investors, and consumers – source DFAT – TPP  Leaders Statement. However there is considerable secrecy surrounding the texts of the various chapters of the TPP.
    • Advice gleaned from advice by the US Trade Representative indicates that the TPP covers at least the following : “customs, telecommunications, investment services, technical barriers to trade, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, intellectual property, regulatory coherence, development, non-conforming measures and cross-border trade in services, rules of origin, competition, agriculture, textiles, and environment.” – source : The New American 15/12/2013.
    • There has long been concern in Australia about the TPP’s implications for affordable medications – more from ABC News – yet Australian National University TPP researchers Thomas Faunce and Caroline Colton also fear that the TPP also has ramifications for Infrastructure – with corporations securing rights to sue governments under proposals as part of the TPP Agreement – see also the involvement of ANU Associate Professor Matthew Rimmer
  • How have the former ALP and current Coalition Governments differed on the TPP especially on the issues of ISDS – allowing Corporations to sue Sovereign Governments ?
    • Curiously the new Opposition Shadow Minister for Trade Penny Wong is calling for this text to be made public – 4/12/2013  via Josh Taylor on ZDnet.com (also see original Wong media release). Wong also stated “Labor believes the full text of any proposed TPP should be released well before it is signed. That is the commitment the United States trade representative has given to Congress, and the Australian Parliament and people are entitled to no less.” Such transparency requests are indeed interesting given that the negotiation of the TPP had been under the ALP Federal ministerial watch since March 2009.
    • This was a point not lost on Federal Greens Senator Peter Whish-Wilson – refer SBS News 24/12/2013.
    • Although “The Gillard government made it clear that Australia would not sign another trade agreement that included international dispute settlement by tribunals.” – source Independent Australia – more.
    • Thus, in August 2013, former ALP Trade Minister Richard Marles was promoting the TPP on the election campaign trail “ we are also promoting the Trans-Pacific Partnership as an important pluri-lateral trade agreement which will enhance our ability to export agricultural and resource products into that Asian region.
    • Whereas in July 2013 Julie Bishop was willing to support granting  ISDS rights allowing corporations to sue governments which of course remains a stickingpoint in ongoing TPP negotiations, along with medication costs and IP issues.
    • In the same SBS News 24/12/2013 news item, ‘the Convenor of the Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network Patricia Ranald says the Australian public has been left out of the debate.“Trade agreements shouldn’t tie the hands of government, prevent them from regulating in the public interest. And they shouldn’t be making agreements which require Australia to change its domestic law about things like medicine or copyright, which is done in secrecy when these things should normally be decided through an open, democratic, parliamentary process. Domestic law should not be decided in secret negotiations in a trade agreement.” – more from Patricia Ranald
  • Who are the parties involved in negotiating the TPP ?
    •  Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, United States, and Vietnam – but notably, China and Korea are not part of the process – although Korea was showing signs of interest in early December 2013.
  • How long has it being going on for ?
    • Early information on the TPP surfaced in 2008-2009 though the “first round” of the treatymaking process did not occur until March 2010, with the 19th round occurring in August 2013 – refer DFAT TPP site.
    • The next meeting is expected to take place on February 16-17 2014 at a yet to be determined venue – according to the Global Post
  • How did the GFC (Global Financial Crisis) influence the TPP’s genesis and subsequent development ?
  • Who supports the TPP ?
    • Governments of Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, United States, and Vietnam
    • President Obama and his current and former Secretaries of State – John Kerry and Hilary Clinton have all been strong advocates of the TPP – see also former US Trade Ambassador Carla Hills on the positives of the  NAFTA FTA
    • US Business Coalition for the TPP – with individual companies listed – many of these companies operate in Australia already
    • Successive Australian Governments, both ALP and Coalition, have supported the progress of the proposed TPP since at least 2009.
    • Former Australian ALP Prime Minister Julia Gillard seems to support the TPP generally but is concerned about the post August 2013 US push on how Tobacco is treated in the agreement – The Guardian – 23/12/2013 –  and they had been concerned about the ISDS aspects – Investor State Dispute Settlement which gives corporations similar rights to sovereign governments
    • Australian Dental Industry Association
    • While Malaysia seems keen in pursuing the TPP – yet concerns remain “but is a dangerous and powerful weapon in the name of “free trade” for the 21st Century.” – Source Bernama
  • Who opposes the TPP ?
    • Activist groups including in America, Australia and New Zealand with a residual fear of it being yet another incarnation of the New World Order paradigm
    • The Alliance for Democracy fears for the environment under a TPP agreement
    • IP Watch is worried about IP implications of the TPP and is suing the US Trade Representative to release the text of the TPP
    • Expose the TPP – claims that the US team negotiating the TPP  has “over 600 official corporate “trade advisors” while hiding the text from Members of Congress, governors, state legislators, the press, civil society, and the public.– see more on their concerns – including media items
    • Flush the TPP – North American Coalition across Canada and the USA
    • Public Citizen  are expecting a Trade Tsunami in 2014 – – see their TPP Fact sheet – and more “The TPP would even elevate individual foreign firms to equal status with sovereign nations, empowering them to privately enforce new rights and privileges, provided by the pact, by dragging governments to foreign tribunals to demand taxpayer compensation over policies that they claim undermine their expected future profits.
    • Electronic Frontier Foundation and Electronic Frontiers Australia
    • Doctors without Borders fears for the cost of medicines – affordability is concern – more
    • Comments from William Pesek of Bloomberg in The Japan Times – 24/12/2013 – “You know you have a transparency problem when citizens of a democracy need to rely on WikiLeaks for details on changes to laws on Internet use, labor, environmental and food-safety standards, and the cost and availability of drugs. “
    • China has seen the TPP as anti-China and anti-ASEAN – see articles by Professor Jane Kelsey on this topic – Part 1Part 2
    • TPP Australia – informative site – listen to the audio of their October 22 2013 seminar on the TPP
    • AFTINET – Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network – Take Action – send a letter – Convenor Patricia Ranald
    • The Australian Institute has had a survey done which shows most Australians don’t know too much about the TPP.
    • The Greens Party Australia this “ agreement could place at risk human rights, public health, the environment, climate, internet freedom, privacy, labour rights, food labelling, purchase of agricultural lands and more.The Greens have repeatedly called on the Government to make the TPPA draft texts have tabled a motion in the Senate calling on the government to make public the secret negotiating text.
    • Pirate Party Australia
    • Choice Magazine Australia : “There’s a lot at stake across many key issues facing Australian consumers today. Reports have suggested that the TPP could allow overseas corporations to sue our government for making laws on behalf of the Australian people.This could prevent its ability to make decisions on food labelling, public health, energy, copyright and more! But because the text of the agreement won’t be public until the treaty is signed, consumer groups and the public are being shut out of the process.Sign our petition calling on the government to bring consumers to the table and release the text before an agreement is signed. Don’t let Australia trade consumer rights away.”
    • It’s Our Future – NZ – Professor Jane Kelsey – a long time Globalisation commentator – more of her articles
    • TPP Watch in New Zealand – 15 reasons to oppose the TPP
    • By May 2013 opposition to the TPP was also growing in Japan – there was a fear it could destroy Japan’s health insurance system
    • Occupy Sydney
    • Green Left Weekly
    • the anti CSG movement in Australia is particularly alarmed by the ISDS aspects – Investor State Dispute Settlement
    • Australians Against the TPP
  • What is the involvement of Australia in the TPP?
    • Successive Australian Governments, both ALP and Coalition, have supported the progress of the proposed TPP since at least 2009. Believing “The Australian Government will pursue a TPP outcome that eliminates or at least substantially reduces barriers to trade and investment. The TPP is more than a traditional trade agreement; it will also deal with behind-the-border impediments to trade and investment.”
    • The current Australian Federal Trade and Investment Minister, Andrew Robb, has charge of pursuing Australia’s participation in the TPP process. Following the latest TPP negotiation meeting in December 2013 held in Bali, Bali, Minister Robb  flatly denied some activists’ concernson December 11 2013,  “I, for example, categorically reject any suggestion that we would accept an outcome that would adversely affect our Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), or our health system more generally,” he said.“We have also said repeatedly that in regard to intellectual property, including copyright, we would not be supporting provisions that would criminalise conduct that is currently lawful in Australia; suggestions to the contrary are simply wrong.”
    • See alleged draft  Secret TPP Treaty : Advanced  Intellectual Property chapter for all 12 nations with negotiating positions – source Wikileaks 20/11/2013 – Youtube clip – more on leaked documents regarding IP – also Open Access implications
    • DFAT’s TPP site states 
    • Key interests and benefits
      • The TPP has the potential to form a building block for Asia-Pacific regional economic integration. It is in Australia’s interests to be involved in order to shape the direction of the initiative.
      • Regional rules of origin will provide new opportunities for Australian exporters to tap into global supply chains.
      • The TPP could provide additional market access for goods and services into the markets of existing FTA and future TPP partners.
      • Inclusion of Investment and Financial Services chapters in the TPP could provide improved opportunities for Australian financial services providers by mitigating barriers, such as foreign restrictions on capital and investment flows.
      • The TPP provides a framework for engaging with countries with which we do not have an existing bilateral trade arrangement. For example, there is potential for better access for dairy products and mining services to Peru through the TPP.
  • How do Treatymaking Processes operate in Australia ?
    • Refer DFAT Treatymaking web site.
    • There is a House of Representatives Joint Standing Committee on Treaties.
    • Note – Since 1996, following lobbying by then Australian Democrats Senator Vicki Bourne, proposed Treaties in Australia have to be tabled to the Parliament for a minimum of 15-20 days before they can be voted upon, brought into force
    • A 2001 review of Treatymaking by Glen Cranwell via Austlii

Other TPP Information Resources

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