Canada cools on TPP

Date: 26 January 2016

Canada’s new progressive government just announced they won’t sign the dangerous Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) next month — at least not until there’s been a full national consultation.

Our new Prime Minister needs to follow suit, and consult with the Australian public about their concerns over this shameless corporate power grab in disguise.

The TPP threatens our environment, access to medicine, national sovereignty, right to privacy and more. Sign the petition and call on our Government to follow the Canadian Trudeau Government’s lead.

What exactly is the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)?

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (or “TPP” as it’s known) is a major trade deal between Australia and 11 other countries. The deal accounts for 800 million people and 40 per cent of the world’s economy – making it one of the world’s largest trade deals.

Australia joined the TPP negotiations in 2011 under the Gillard Government, and negotiations have since continued under the Coalition Government, which have been largely led by the US. Negotiations concluded on 5 October 2015 in Atlanta, US.

The 12 negotiating countries are Australia, the US, New Zealand, Canada, Japan, Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, Chile, Mexico, and Peru.

What’s in it for Australians?

The Coalition Government claims the TPP would open up trade and investment opportunities for Australia in the Asia-Pacific region, by reducing barriers for Australian exporters.

However, the deal has a number of nasty provisions that will impact Austalia’s environment, health, internet freedom and workers rights standards

What’s Investor-State Dispute Settlement

Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) is a provision that allows a foreign corporation to sue governments for policy decisions they believe harm their investments.

ISDS can be used for very legitimate purposes, for example if a government was to nationalise a private company – but it could also be used to sue governments for actions taken in the public interest, such as banning harmful pesticides, or placing a moratorium on fracking to protect water resources.

The risks of ISDS aren’t merely hypotheticals, we’re already seeing them played out in countries like Canada, El Salvador and even right here in Australia.

How will the TPP affect environmental protections?

The TPP was billed as having environmental standards that would be ground-breaking for a trade deal, but the text reveals it doesn’t even mention climate change!

What’s more, giving multinational corporations the power to sue our governments for creating new laws, could inhibit their ability to govern in the public interest.

For example, if a state government placed a ban on coal seam gas fracking, because it was contaminating water tables, the fracking company could sue the government and force Australian taxpayers to cover the cost of lost profits.

We’ve already seen scenarios like this played out in countries around the world, such as in El Salvador, where a Canadian company (now Australian-owned) is suing the government for $315 million in “loss of future profits” because local citizens won a hard-fought campaign against a gold mine that threatened to contaminate their water supplies. The Australian company is continuing to pursue the case.

How will the TPP increase the cost of medicines?

The US Big Pharmaceutical lobby pushed for an extension of data exclusivity period for medicines. Before a new medicine is manufactured, it undergoes extensive testing to ensure it’s safe.

Generic medicine manufacturers currently need to wait five years before they can access this data to produce more affordable versions of the medicine.

The US wanted to increase this period from five to eight years, which would delay the introduction of cheaper generic medicines into the market, making medicines more expensive for Australians.

The text of the deal reveals that Australia has committed to use administrative and other processes to eventually reach the eight year waiting period that the US demanded.

How will the TPP put public health at risk?

In 2011 the Australian Government introduced plain-packaging laws to prevent young people from taking up smoking.

But now, US tobacco giant Philip Morris, is using a similar ISDS clause from an Australia-Hong Kong treaty to sue the government for millions of dollars in damages.

ISDS clauses are included in the TPP agreement, so US corporations can sue Australian governments over laws that affect their profits.

How will the TPP reduce protections for workers?

ISDS provisions can also harm added protections for workers. The Egyptian Government is being sued under ISDS provisions for raising the minimum wage.

How will the TPP threaten internet freedom?

Your internet service provider could be forced to spy on you and dob you in for possible copyright infringement.

We all know piracy is illegal, but this treaty gives US companies the power to pull strings that could make heavy-handed spying, fines, internet service disconnection and even criminal charges the norm for even the most minor and potentially unintentional infringements.

How could the TPP affect my family?

Find out what this deal could mean for you and your family

But are ISDS provisions necessary?

The Productivity Commission found in their June report that “ISDS protections are not necessary or sufficient to foster investment flows between developed countries with transparent and well-functioning legal systems”

Back in 2011, the Commission even went so far as to recommend the government “seek to avoid” the inclusion of ISDS in all future trade deals.