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Corporates for TPP

Written By: - Date published: 9:00 am, March 22nd, 2014 - 47 comments
Categories: activism, assets, business, capitalism, class war, democratic participation, sustainability, trade, us politics, workers' rights - Tags:

New Zealanders have every reason to join next Saturday’s (29 March) Day of Action against TPP.  It’s an agreement being strongly pushed by various major US multinationals, including those of the motion picture industry, computer industries and “Big Pharma”.

TPPP Big Pharma

This article on the website for the Sunlight Foundation, “How Big Pharma (and others) began lobbying on the Trans-Pacific Partnership before you ever heard of it“.

Major players in the pharmaceutical industry have pushed long and hard for the TPP, and are considered to have been a major influence on the shape of the agreement:

It was an early clue as to which industry would take the most active role in trying to shape the trade agreement while it was still secret from the public. From 2009 until mid-2013 (the time during which the language of the agreement was still reasonably fluid), drug companies and associations mentioned the trade agreement in 251 separate lobbying reports – two and a half times more than the next most active industry (at least measured by lobbying reports).

It is an investment that appears to have paid off. The TPP is quite friendly to drug manufacturers, strengthening patent exclusivity and providing protections against bulk government purchasing (should it hurt profits). At the behest of the pharmaceutical industry, the U.S. is also pushing to limit the ability of national regulatory agencies to support generic drug development. All of this suggests that the active lobbying has paid off.

The articles linked in the above extract provide a grim scenario and indicate that NZ’s Pharmac will be under pressure to serve Big Pharma and disregard the needs and well-being of Kiwis.  This Huffington Post article, linked above, says the following:

Under the emerging Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade agreement with the U.S. and 11 Pacific Rim nations, drug companies will be able to challenge any restraint on their ability to price-gouge, including laws that empower public programs like Medicare and Medicaid to use their purchasing power to obtain lower prices.

The Sunlight Foundation article also provides graphic information about which industries and which corporations have campaigned for the TPP in their own interests, and for how long. The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America have been the strongest and longest lobbyists for the TPP.

Looking at the top 20 organizations (Figure 2 below) tells a similar picture: PhRMA, the pharmaceutical industry’s trade association, tops the list at 44 reports mentioning the trade agreement, followed closely by drug giant Pfizer at 42. The Chamber of Commerce comes in third, with 34 reports, followed by the Dairy Farmers of America, the Generic Pharmaceutical Association and Yahoo!, all at 29 reports.

The requisite caveat is these counts are based on voluntary disclosures, and they rely on the organization to specifically mention the trade agreement by name in its lobbying disclosure forms (as opposed to something like “trade issues”). Still, the lobbying patterns shouldn’t come as a surprise: They largely reflect the interests that are most likely to be affected by the trade agreement.

Corporations for TPP

Which organisations lobbied the most for TPP–  Bigger image at the link


Other organisations that have lobbied strongly for the TPP include Hollywood corporates, car makers, the textile industry, and the dairy sector.  The US representatives of the latter, are explicitly concerned about the possibility of opening up the US dairy sector to NZ exporters.

See the It’s Our Future Website for details on protests planned next Saturday in places throughout NZ.

Page One events at – all beginning at 1pm (At the links, there are links to each event giving beginning meet-up point).

29 Mar 2014 -1pm

Tauranga, Whanganui, Wellington, Whangarei, Palmerston North, Nelson, Hamilton, Hokianga

Page Two events at:

Dunedin, Auckland

TPPA poster March 29 2014

47 comments on “Corporates for TPP”

  1. blue leopard (Get Lost GCSB Bill) 1

    Just in case someone hasn’t come across it yet:

    There is a petition created by the SumOfUs to show leaders of the political parties of this country how many people feel strongly that the TPP is wrong.

    http://act.sumofus.org/go/3859?t=4&akid=4438.1853073.CQZoEv

    [On signing the petition you will receive other emails containing petition requests from SumOfUs, they are usually based on the subject of dodgy corporate agenda – such as Monsanto attempting to reverse court rulings designed to protect bees from their noxious-to-bees products.

    If you scroll down the email there is an ‘unsubscribe’ link you can press if you don’t want to receive these emails

    Link to About the SumOfUs ]

    • Rosie 1.1

      Thanks blue leopard. That sumofus petition arrived in my inbox last week, and was promptly signed!

      Good to see that Avaaz and change.org have also been keeping the pressure up on Monsanto’s efforts to reverse the European Courts decision to ban bee killing insecticides and they are also trying to counter the Monsanto propaganda machine – that is Monsanto are trying to hush up the publication of new research that has proven that their Round Up herbicide is also harmful to bee’s.

      • blue leopard (Get Lost GCSB Bill) 1.1.1

        Cheers Rosie,

        I was initially apprehensive about joining these petition site lists, however I am glad I did – I find being part of these movements helps keep one informed as to what is going on about things that we just don’t get informed about in NZ.

        The anti-bee action by Monsanto was an extraordinary example of narrow self interest destructiveness – along with many other monopolistic and anti-life stances Monsanto seem to specialise in.

        Corporate monopoly is one of the single biggest obstacles we have toward an effective expression of democracy in this country and beyond.

        • Rosie 1.1.1.1

          I have some slight reservations about the click – ti- vism sites, mainly to do with their real life impact, but on the whole I see no harm in them.

          Avaaz in particular seem to back their site work with actual activities.For instance they were very active around the Bangladesh Rana Plaza industrial disaster last year and worked alongside international labour rights groups to bring justice for the survivors and for the families of the victims. Eventually tighter factory safety laws were put in place and most companies signed up to the new accord (with the continuing exception of Gap Clothing)

          And you’re right, these sites do highlight serious issues that don’t get much air here, mainly the corporate monopoly you speak of as well as human rights abuses and environmental harm.

  2. Rosie 2

    Thanks for another well researched and interesting article karol.

    I was a bit intrigued to see that a organisation representing a collective of Unions covering 6 trades areas and 12.5 million American workers, AFL- CIO, was featured as one of the pro TPP lobby groups, and sat around the halfway mark on the tables illustrated in the link you provided.

    http://www.aflcio.org/About/AFL-CIO-Unions

    Where as here in NZ we have the FIRST Union supporting the “It’s our future” campaign.

    http://www.firstunion.org.nz/

    I understand that workers would be concerned about an agreement such as the TPP because there is the risk jobs in smaller weaker partner countries such as ours may be lost to more powerful larger countries. I’m wondering do American workers see this agreement as something that would benefit them and boost their industries, therefore they support such an agreement?

    How does it work?

    • karol 2.1

      Thanks, Rosie.

      I didn’t actually do much extra research for this post. The main article featured was linked in a tweet, I think from Helen Kelly this morning. I just read the article, checked the websites and read the linked articles. It looked like a very good resource and that it would make a relevant reminder about next week’s Day of Action.

  3. Chooky 3

    +100 …thanks for that karol….a very good reference

  4. greywarbler 4

    I have been getting emails fro mAvaaz but don’t know much about them. Are they good and on the level? Is there any bad feedback about them?

    And on the most lobbying it is interesting to see how amongst the top 20 listed which are said to be the most prolific –

    1st and 2nd + – Pharmaceutical entity representing the trade tops the list, a firm comes 2nd (Pfizer) (The total number for the sector, is five out of the 20.)

    3rd Chambers of Commerce, catch-all representing most USA business interests. (One high in the 20.)

    4th Dairy Farmers of America (plus another at No.13 the American Farm Bureau) (One +1, high in the 20 + another, so 2 in 20.)

    5th see Pharma.

    6th On-line computer services and additional – Yahoo! Inc (Online computer services also 16th Net Coalition) and Motion Picture Assn of America. (So this sector, three out of 20.)

    7th Clothing – and Price-cutting department stores. 7 Hanesbrands (Clothings & accessories)
    10 Walmart 11 Target, (department stores), 15 Nike (Shoes & leather products), 19 American Footwear Assn, 20 American Manufacturing Trade Action (Teextiles & fabrics)
    The total number for sector, six out of 20.)

    8th United Steelworkers (Manufacturing), and 12 AFL-CIO (Labour unions) Two out of 20)

    14th Ford Motor Co.

    • Rosie 4.1

      “I have been getting emails fro mAvaaz but don’t know much about them. Are they good and on the level? Is there any bad feedback about them?”

      Hi there Warbly. My response to blue leopard above at 1.1.1.1 covers a little of your question. In short, I do feel they are on the level. I can’t provide any bad feedback but others may have differing views.

    • karol 4.2

      I was interested in the lobbying by unions. I didn’t have time to check it this morning.

      Basically, it looks like their lobbying is against the TPP, with concerns for the way it will undermine the rights of US workers.

      From the AFL-CIO website. – 14 March 2014

      The U.S.–Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS–FTA) turns 2 years old Saturday and imports from Korea continue to flood into the United States, costing workers their jobs.
      [..]
      Despite promises of U.S. job growth and improvements in trade balances (similar to what we’re hearing about the Trans-Pacific Partnership Free Trade Agreement [TPP])—Gerard says imports from Korea are up by 4% and:
      [..]
      He warns that if TPP has the same negative and growing impact as KORUS, America’s job losses and the effect of trade imbalances will multiply.

      • greywarbler 4.2.1

        It’s a point that USA workers should fear TPPA. Perhaps we could link with the anti TPPA USA citizens. It’s the little people against Mr Creosote (Monty Python reference – have a look, before having dinner.)

        Just thought suitable marching song for the Saturday 29 March protest –

        I said
        Don’t it always seem to go
        That you don’t know what you’ve got
        ‘Til it’s gone
        They paved paradise
        And put up a parking lot

        They paved paradise
        And put up a parking lot
        They paved paradise
        And put up a parking lot

        Everyone would know that and it would be a meaningful noise representing what we are afraid of – losing our country and rights to do things we want and them having all the rights.

        I like ‘pay paradise’.
        The pay paradise put up a parking lot
        With a big hotel and a swinging hot spot
        Don’t it always seem to go
        that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone,
        The pay paradise put up a parking lot.j

      • Rosie 4.2.2

        Thanks again karol – I should have looked a bit harder. I also made the mistake of making an assumption – that the US Union movement was for the TPP.

        btw, as for the topic of research – I saw your discussion with Pete George over on Open Mike. It’s good that you question him on the strength of his research capabilities for Politicheck.

    • Murray Olsen 4.3

      I take Avaaz on an issue by issue basis. On some things they seem very good, but I’ve also seen them promote stuff by right wing groups in Brazil wanting the return of a military government. As with any issue, I like to have a good look myself before I take a stand on anything. Of course, that doesn’t make me infallible, but it means I do have reasonably informed prejudices 🙂

  5. Tracey 5

    thanks again karol. much appreciated. john armstrong thinks the gcsb and tpp are things that dont affect everyday people. we need to help he and others understand that he has it completely tge wrong way roubd. it is an incidious corporate proffiting venture by stealth to milk us in private to fleece us in public.

    • karol 5.1

      Yes., Tracey – things like the way it will affect access to and cost of medicines, undermine workers’ rights, cost of living etc, should be stressed to Kiwis.

  6. Melb 6

    Surely some of your post should be congratulating the current Govt for opposing the draconian measures proposed by the US, as shown by the wikileaked drafts.

    • karol 6.1

      That’s not as straight forward as you make it seem.

      Yes, wikileaks material shows there have been disagreements between the US, and NZ – and many other countries – as in this November 2013 report by Nicky Hager in the NZ Herald. He says the gulf is so wide, someone will need to back down – given the power of the US, and the fact that they prioritise deals with powerful countries like Japan over NZ, you have to wonder what there is in the TPP for NZ.

      This article by Jane Kelsey – feb 2014, (from the It’s Our Future site linked to in my post) says that a lot of the areas of contention have been whittled down.

      ‘By the start of the officials’ meetings on Monday the 100-plus points of disagreement in last year’s intellectual property text had already been whittled away. I understand there have been further major decisions already this week, even before the ministers meet’, Kelsey said.
      ‘There is talk about the US making compromises and showing flexibility. This is an old trick. They set the original threshold outrageously high. Then they agree to “concessions” that are still far beyond the status quo. The result is new rules that profit Big Pharma at the expense of access to affordable medicines and protection of public health’.

      One of the most crucial remaining decisions for TPPA ministers is the US demand for new rules that would give the pharmaceutical companies longer monopoly terms, including for patents, and delay the entry of new generic medicines to treat diseases like cancer and diabetes.

      Basically, Kelsey is skeptical that Grosser/the NZ government will not back down in the face of US corporate power.

      More From Jane Kelsey on the current state of play in her blog post this month. In this she explains why we need to keep up pressure on the current government, and Labour if they lead the government after the election, to tell them why they should not sell out Kiws in the TPPA.

    • karol 6.2

      And Martyn Bradbury, in an op ed in today’s NZ Herald, says this:

      Unfortunately for the prime minister, Wikileaks obtained the cable from our chief negotiator, Mark Sinclair, admitting privately that managing the fact we would gain little from the deal was its biggest challenge.
      […]

      Take Pharmac. The ground Key will give to get some extra dairy into America is to let US pharmaceuticals threaten Pharmac with legal action if Pharmac doesn’t take their overpriced medicines. Pharmac becomes obliged to consider legal action by these corporations as part of its costings so that although cheaper medicines may exist, the added cost of legal threats means cheaper drugs are ruled out.

      The effect of this is more expensive medicines for all of us, just so dairy farmers (who are already polluting our rivers to saturation point) can sell a little bit more to the US.

  7. Murray Olsen 7

    On what basis do the corporates lobby for the TPPA? Does this mean they wrote it, or that they have actually read it, when none of us are allowed within a bull’s roar of the filthy document?

    As for trusting our politicians to negotiate anything – if the seppo’s are asking for 10, this probably means they expect 5, but will settle for 3. “Our” representatives are more likely to hand over 9.8 (NAct) or 9.5 (Labour) and claim a great victory.

    • adam 7.1

      Murry it has been the liberal parties of the left which have run to support these arguments, more willingly than the right. Hence why corporate dollars fall into the lap of labour so well. I think the protest should be directed at labour, and their offices and if that not acceptable, then at the very least no one from labour should be allowed to speak.

      • Murray Olsen 7.1.1

        Thanks, but people are putting pressure on both sides. At the moment, NAct is the hand holding the pen, so it makes more immediate sense to pressure them. As for who supports these sort of agreements more, I’d say it’s pretty much equal these days. NAct no longer hold any vestige of economic nationalism or sovereignty, and only a few in Labour do. I will admit Labour may have signed more deals, purely on the basis that they’re more competent at running capitalism than NAct is. Please note that I don’t mean that last bit as any sort of recommendation.

      • karol 7.1.2

        Hence why corporate dollars fall into the lap of labour so well.

        This needs explanation and citations. While there is some lack of transparency, most of the evidenve I’ve seen points to National getting way more of the corporate dollars than Labour.

        I have no faith that Labour would oppose the TPP while in government. So far they have only asked that Kiwis see the agreement before the government accepts it.

    • karol 7.2

      I have read several reports stating that corporate people have read the full TPP drafts, while citizens and members of governments have not.

      Stated here for instance:

      We only know about the TPP’s threats thanks to leaks – the public is not allowed to see the draft TPP text. Even members of Congress, after being denied the text for years, are now only provided limited access. Meanwhile, more than 600 official corporate “trade advisors” have special access.

      Here on RT

      Operatives of top global corporations, which spend great amounts of cash to lobby Congress, are also part of a small group in the US outside the Obama administration that can access working plans on the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact.

      […]
      Thus far in the multi-year negotiations of TPP, a small cadre of people have had open access to the working documents involved in the various sections of the trade pact. On the contrary, members of the US Congress, for example, must visit the offices of the United States Trade Representative to review the provisions. They are not allowed to bring anyone with them, nor can they make copies of any documents pertaining to the working agreement.

      Yet aside from those in the Obama administration, only members of the United States Trade Representative’s advisory system, including the 18-member Industry Trade Advisory Committee on Intellectual Property Rights (ITAC-15), can freely access TPP negotiation documents on intellectual property.

  8. RedBaronCV 8

    How do we reverse or back out of TPP if this government is stupid enough to sign this. And is this behind the “NZ Flag” editorial of the New York times (in today’s Herald). I just don’t believe that international treaties can’t be cancelled at some level, perhaps all countries could put withdrawal rights in.

  9. RedBaronCV 9

    Do we pass a law right now requiring parliamentary ratification of external treaties? Are there enough supporters in the current parliament.

  10. tricledrown 10

    Even Tim Hazeldine says we shouldn’t rush to sign free trade deals.
    As what happens is our manufacturing gets gutted .
    Our democratic rights get undermined.
    Its better to pay a bit more for things and be a little poorer than be a slave to much bigger countries.
    How much more cheap junk can we buy from these countries.
    While we fritter away democracy.

    • Wayne 10.1

      If Tim Hazeldine is saying it, then I know we should be doing FTA’s.

      But I appreciate, that like Bomber Bradbury item in the Herald, this site is for those who oppose FTA’s.

      Another good reason why John Key needs to be the Prime Minister through to 2017.

      • McFlock 10.1.1

        🙄

      • Tracey 10.1.2

        this from the man who has never opposed one and cannot say when an fta or tpp will trickle down to things like higher low wages, closing the gap between rich and poor, and preventing another economic collapse such as 1987 and 2007/2008….

        • Wayne 10.1.2.1

          Tracey,

          It is true that I have never opposed a FTA negotiated by a NZ govt. But that because NZ govts have always negotiated sensible FTA’s. Negotiations are only ever started with countries with whom it is reasonable to negotiate a FTA.

          Whereas I suspect you have opposed every single one, or would if you knew they were happening. Some slip by pretty much unnoticed like the recent one with Taiwan.

          • geoff 10.1.2.1.1

            TPPA ≠ FTA.

            Why do you keep pretending that it is, Wayne Mapp?

          • Tracey 10.1.2.1.2

            Given the number of ftas wayne when do you predict the impact of the tpp if signed off by dec 14 will flow to higher low wages and closing the gap betw rich and poor?

            Do you understand the tpp is not an fta?

        • srylands 10.1.2.2

          So you are saying you oppose FTAs? Incredible.

          • McFlock 10.1.2.2.1

            it’s only incredible to you because you’re so disconnected from New Zealand.
            Probably because you’re an aussie.

          • Tracey 10.1.2.2.2

            Do you understand that tpp is not an fta?

            Trickledown and wayne may think they are but I am surprised that someone as intellectually well read as you thinks so.

      • lprent 10.1.3

        Ha. I’ve never opposed a single FTA. However the TPP is a restriction of trade agreement. So far I haven’t seen a single thing in it that improves trade for NZ.

        Can’t quite understand why you’re supporting a RTA.

        But that is the problem with the TPP. Its lack of transparency compared with any of the previous FTAs and its apparent scope well beyond the scope of a trade agreement makes the only available analogy being CER. That too was well scrutinised by a wider audience than the usual.

        The difference is that the key parts of that agreement were clearly known by the public well before the executive approved it and had a broad consensus of support. The TPP process by comparison has been obsessively secretive and what has leaked has been outright disturbing for anyone interested in supporting FREE TRADE. It appears to be a political agreement rather than a trade agreement

        • Tracey 10.1.3.1

          thats just semantics to wayne. he doesnt need to know any details to know he loves it. to hell with the leaks which point to significant concessions by nz legislature to major global companies.

      • thatguynz 10.1.4

        “Another”? You mean there was a reason to start with Wayne?

        Your unfailing support of “FTA’s” highlights a lot that is wrong with the National party.

    • srylands 10.2

      Welcome back to 1978. You are on the wrong side of history son.

      • McFlock 10.2.1

        Historical determinism? Libertarians are indeed lazy marxists…

      • Tracey 10.2.2

        do you know how many global financial meltdowns there were between the great depression and 1978 and between 1979 and 2008?

  11. tricledrown 11

    Wayne your full of crap where’s your reasoning just following along blindly with no questions.
    Democracy is about everyone having a say.
    You and your ilk sspylands don’t want anyone to have an opinion say or put forward evidence that
    some free trade deals aren’t that good.
    Dairy exports to the US at the expense of pharmac .
    The US can produce dairy products cheaper than NZ.
    We can’t even produce most of the pharmaceuticals we use so we would be at a huge disadvantage.
    The rights of huge corporates to sue us is another undermining of democratic rights.
    Wayne you were useless as an MP.
    Your only marginally better as a blogger.

  12. Yossarian 12

    +1000

    Dear Karol

    Bravo!

    Another Triumph!

    It’s not often I read such well written articles as yours Karole. I can only think that your abilities must of been honed somewhere other than The Standard. Have you ever worked in the “MSM” as a journalist or dare I say it an editor? I have always been interested in journalism my entire life but I could never write anything as well as you Ckarole. I am beginning to think your talents are wasted on this site.You could easily get yourself a position as a journalist in any of the MSM outlets in this country or dare I say the world, even in the uk where as you most probably know already, because you are that well informed they could do with a few as some of their past ones are facing jail time. Orrr perhaps a speech writer for one of the up and coming mps in our forthcoming election!? Or actually join & contribute to a political party!?..Nooooo, why don’t you just get up there Ckarolee and run for leader..after all, we on this site recognise your leadership appeal!???

    Now I know I have seen the occasional detractor on the site but Carolina they don’t know a thing when it comes to politics, not like you do. At the very least you should ignore them and if that’s not enough perhaps you could ask the site owner to dispatch them by totally banning them from the site. I hear shes got this ability,on any person that might have the timerity to question you….feel the power Karol …Let it sink into your very nerve endings and realise there is never enough, such well formed and succinctly written comments as your own being questioned by mear plebs.

    I ask you What sort of place would it be if the mear mortals of this world came in here and questioned you? Your work stands in its own right and has no need to be robustly debated!

    [lprent: Wrong gender and I suggest that you read the policy carefully about your required behaviour towards authors. I hadn’t particularly noticed you before this comment except as a bit of irritant. But I’ve now had a look back through your comments and I see that you have a bit of a history of attacking karol in a snarky underhanded way. I’d suggest that you desist but I can’t see any point since you are clearly a complete dickhead. Banned. ]

  13. Tautoko Viper 13

    Wayne,
    Can you explain how you think NZ would deal with the investor-state dispute settlement procedure? Can you use an example, say of the effect on the rights of a regional area of NZ declaring itself GM free? (I realise that the National Government is trying to remove that right at present.)

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  • Coalition Govt’s investment in Customs nets record drugs haul: 3 tonnes stopped at borders in 2019
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  • Budget 2020 date announced
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  • Prime Minister’s tribute to former Prime Minister Mike Moore
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  • Crown accounts in good shape to counter global challenges
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  • Work to begin on a possible new public media entity
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  • Government support for communities impacted by flooding
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  • New grants for seismic strengthening of heritage buildings
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  • Next level results for game development industry
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  • More than 70 marae online through PGF
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