Written By: - Date published: 10:00 am, March 5th, 2013 - 38 comments
Categories: activism, copyright, democracy under attack, internet, john key, slippery, trade, us politics - Tags: Jane Kelsey, pharamceuticals, pharmac, TPPA, women's rights
A round of TTPA negotiations is underway in Singapore. The excellent Jane Kelsey is leading the critical discussion here in NZ. Meanwhile there is some disturbing information from across the ditch in Aussie, raising the issue of corporate dominance over women’s health provisions and the undermining of women’s rights.
Kelsey posted yesterday on The Daily Blog about just how much Obama is using the TPPA to assert his agenda at home and abroad. In doing this he is skewing the “negotiations” in favour of corporate US, and undermining any hopes for democratic processes. In ‘The reality of What TPPA means for NZ’, Kelsey says:
But today is the first day of the 16th round of talks in Singapore and the situation is getting serious.
The eleven participating countries – or more accurately, their current and temporary governments – are aiming to draft a new rulebook for the 21st century that locks in and extends the failed neoliberal model. In secret. For the indefinite future. Enforceable by each other and by their corporations in secretive offshore tribunals. …
Obama is putting the hard word on the other ten countries’ leaders, who are in turn pushing their chief negotiators and their teams to clear the dross out of the way so they can talk about trade-offs.
Some chapters are near that stage. Others have been at stalemate almost since the negotiations began as other countries rejected the basic tenets of US demands. Several of those areas are must-haves for Obama – notably, intellectual property, which impacts on pharmaceuticals, the internet and innovation and disciplines on state-enterprises that could extend to ACC, Kiwibank and the universities.
The way that John Key and Tim Groser talk, all the parties including New Zealand are equals at this negotiating table. But this has always been the US plus the rest.
Note that the key areas in focus include “intellectual property and the internet”. This links in with the withdrawal of Murdoch’s News Corps from NZ Sky TV. Pressure for an accessible, affordable, critical and democratic “fourth estate” should be intensified, as the subscriber numbers for the Sky TV remain static, and television shows become increasingly accessible via the internet: a platform corporoates and investors are trying to control for their undemocratic financial gain..
Kelsey also issued a Press Release yesterday that draws on OIA documents that expose John Key’s dodgy use of figures in relation to the TPPA:
An Official Information Act request revealed the Prime Minister was citing an unpublished econometric study in November 2012 by the Washington-based Peterson Institute for International Economics that updated earlier versions published by the East West Centre.
Professor Kelsey says ‘the assumptions that underpin the report’s computerised modelling belong on an alien planet’. …
The report ignores any real world downsides – losing part or all of the $5 billion savings from Pharmac over 12 years, the stifling of innovation through extreme US monopoly rights over intellectual property, the economic and social costs of light-handed regulation, legal fees and compensation awards from investment arbitration suits brought by US firms, to name a few.
Yesterday there was also a press release by AFTINET (Australian Fair Trade & Investment Network Ltd) announcing a seminar in Sydney today on women’s rights and the TPPA. It highlights that a US legal judgement means a pharmaceutical company can patent a gene linked to breast cancer. This will result in tests for breast cancer becoming unaffordable for most women.
With the TPPA, pharmaceutical companies and investors are looking to control over and rights to other patents that will impact on large numbers of people, but especially on women, children and various “vulnerable” people. (I guess “vulnerable” means those on low incomes and/or with little power). The press release goes on:
This bad news could be even worse if the US government succeeds in its demands for even stronger patent rights, including for diagnostic testing, in the TTPA. This would lock stronger patent laws into an international agreement which Australian governments could not change,” said Dr Patricia Ranald, convener of the Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network and a speaker at the seminar
“The US also wants stronger patent rights for pharmaceutical companies to charge high monopoly prices for medicines, and to delay cheaper generic drugs becoming available. As well, the US wants to prevent governments from regulating medicine prices, as happens through the Australian Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
It is important that NZ citizens understand what is happening with the TPPA. Good on Kelsey for keeping information out there – and Kelsey also served notice of upcoming actions around the TPPA:
A new phase of the TPPA campaign, Countdown to May, is about to be launched through the itsourfuture website with activities that anyone do: adopt an MP; recruit local councillors to move resolutions that are critical of the TPPA, or better still make them TPPA-free zones; deluge the talkbacks and blogs; host the cartoon exhibition. Sign up to the bulletin on the www.itsourfuture.org.nz website and you can be part of making this our 21st century, not theirs!
We can all get involved! Time for action!