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TPPA: US, corporate dominance – let’s do ACTION!!

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: , , , ,

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!

38 comments on “TPPA: US, corporate dominance – let’s do ACTION!!”

  1. geoff 1

    Great post, Karol. It would be cool if we had Jane Kelsey commenting on the standard.

  2. MrSmith 2

    Were are Labour on selling our sovereignty down the river? I’m all ears!

    • MrSmith 2.1

      Edit : Where are Labour on selling our sovereignty down the river? I’m all ears?

    • DH 2.2

      TPPA talks began under Labour, from what I’ve read the Nats haven’t actually changed much of NZ’s terms at the negotiating table.

      I think Labour’s silence on it tells us all we need to know; either they agree with the Nats or they’ve got a guilty conscience… or both.

  3. muzza 3

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/farming/8081032/NZ-first-to-sign-food-safety-deal-with-US

    Looks like the signal of NZ selling out to corporations, has already been signalled!

    • Colonial Viper 3.1

      Shheeeezus. The US allow genetically modified (GM) food into their supply chain without any testing or labeling whatsoever.

      What does this do for the entry of unlabelled GM foods on to our store shelves?

      FUCK.

      • freedom 3.1.1

        raw foods and heritage seeds will also be up for the chop, so to speak.

        then there is the prickly issue of US arrests for sharing raw milk and other heinous crimes against the corpocracy

        • Colonial Viper 3.1.1.1

          Each of these steps undermines the resilience of our local communities to be self sufficient in the face of uncertain climate and financial changes.

          • Draco T Bastard 3.1.1.1.1

            Which is, and always has been, the goal of the capitalists. Removing peoples ability to exist without the corporations and thus increasing dependence is exactly how they become rich.

            • woodpecker 3.1.1.1.1.1

              “I can see the day coming, when even your home garden is gonna be against the law”..Bob Dylan (early 80’s me thinks)

              • karol

                Thanks for that tip, woodpecker.

                From Infidels 1983, Union Sundown:

                Well, the job that you used to have
                They gave it to somebody down in El Salvador
                The unions are big business, friend
                And they’re goin’ out like a dinosaur
                They used to grow food in Kansas
                Now they want to grow it on the moon and eat it raw
                I can see the day coming when even your home garden
                Is gonna be against the law

                Well, it’s sundown on the union
                And what’s made in the U.S.A.
                Sure was a good idea
                ’Til greed got in the way

                Not sure what he’s saying about the union – otherwise an apt song.

      • muzza 3.1.2

        Yup, we have that deal signed, we have the food safety bill, natural remedies bill, etc all come to being, around the same time the TPPA pressure was/is really cranking up.

        These bills will have been written with an eye firmly on a TPPA green light, and will have *unintended consequences*, littering their future use.

        Most people have no idea what’s going on with these links, or that they are even in play, and the MPs self admit, do not read the bills in entirety!

        Who authors NZ bills – Oh that’s right, large corporate law firms!

      • yeshe 3.1.3

        I’m with you on this .. keep wondering if Monsanto and the like will be able to sue us under TPPA provisions for disallowing their murderous crops to be grown here ? Would love Jane Kelsey to answer this one .. it might be the one issue that could galvanise our tired and ill-informed public — this is so frightening and so few seem to have any interest, much less awareness … where are all the brilliant ones who signed their names on that anti-TPPA full page advert in the Herald, Dom etc a while back ??

        And yes, where is Labour on this very specific issue ? Voting Green party and candidate is only possibility now I think …

        • muzza 3.1.3.1

          And yes, where is Labour on this very specific issue

          Oh you will find the LP in the same place as the rest of the MPs – Bent over the negotiating table, having sold themselves, and the rest of us out, just like their counterparts, decades earlier!

          Conditionality policies – 1961

    • freedom 3.2

      and with the new head of the US FDA being a Monsanto stooge we are FUBAR,

      e.g: The Dairy industry has worked with Monsanto to produce high yield GM grasses. The FDA is an organization that after being lobbied by Dairy interests since 2009, now calls for Aspartame to be added to milk. Aspartame was declared a poison in 1975 by the FDA, but it is now in over ten thousand foodstuffs.

      • muzza 3.2.1

        E951 – Yes we have Donald Rumsfeld to thank for that, hands up who remembers Donald, he’s a nice man!

        I agree with you freedom, the indications are, that we’re well and truly done!

        Will the remaining compos mentis, please stand up!

  4. Wayne 4

    Karol,

    So what action do you propose?

    As I have noted before on this site (TPPA being one of the main issues I comment on this site) if the negotiating countries conclude the TPPA it will be ratified by NZ.

    In fact as Jane makes clear TPPA now has the strategic backing of the US, so its success is all the more certain.

    But NZ sees that as a desirable outcome. It was always the objective of the NZ Govt to get a NZUSFTA, and since it could not be done bilaterally, the vehicle of P5 which has now expanded to TPPA has been seen as a good outcome. Remember that NZ was an initial proponent of P5, and NZ is the depositry of the TPPA.

    There is absolutely no prospect whatsoever that NZ would not ratify TPPA.

    The NZ Govt will take no notice of Jane Kelsey, who is after all an ideological opponent of the Govt on virtually every issue. She has never seen an FTA she could support, therefore her opposition to TPPA is dismissed out of hand.

    However, I guess her objective is to influence those Govts that might have some sympathy with her views. But I would note her role in Korea oppossing the KUSFTA probably did not endear her to the Korean Govt, and they will make known to the other negotiating states.

    Her level of oppositional fevour to free trade agreements is so great, that it is easy for Govts to ignore her, even though she is deeply researched on the detail of the issues.

    • karol 4.1

      Jane Kelsey makes good suggestions for action, which I quoted at the bottom of my post. This includes:

      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 http://www.itsourfuture.org.nz website

      There are concerns about the TPP from various South East Asian groups and governments – hence their development of the alternative RCEP

      • Wayne 4.1.1

        Won’t change the view of Govt – and I would also bet will not shift Labour. But if it did that would certainly mean a radical shift by Labour if it was to oppose TPP.

        I personally would see that as a bad thing, but I guess you would not.

        • Draco T Bastard 4.1.1.1

          Won’t change the view of Govt

          That would be the problem with governments welded to an ideology – they don’t change their minds no matter the evidence.

    • Colonial Viper 4.2

      So Wayne, you’re not concerned about the undermining of our rights to decide how to govern the country, while US corporates get given more powers over our daily lives?

      • Wayne 4.2.1

        I see these sorts of negotiations as having a balance, every negotiating country has to give something to get something.

        So NZ will give something on IP protection to get market access for agriculture. In any event we also originate IP (ask Weta Films), so this might be as much to our benefit as it is a cost.

        And of course all FTA’s limit the sovereignty of Govts. Thats their point.

        • Draco T Bastard 4.2.1.1

          So NZ will give something on IP protection to get market access for agriculture. In any event we also originate IP (ask Weta Films), so this might be as much to our benefit as it is a cost.

          We’ll be worse off no matter what.

        • thatguynz 4.2.1.2

          Wayne, I’m sorry mate but if you think that the US will open the door to inbound NZ agriculture in any meaningful way then you stand to be sadly disappointed.

          The FTA’s (Free trade as opposed to Fair trade) that have been negotiated over time with ANY country have always favoured the larger trading “partner”. I don’t think anyone is naive enough to suggest the TPPA would be any different – if in fact it was largely about trade…

          Let’s be quite blunt about it – the TPPA is as far from a trade agreement as the current Labour Party is from it’s founding principles. It is a reduction in our ability to self-govern, self-regulate and is an acceleration of the global corporatocracy.

          • Draco T Bastard 4.2.1.2.1

            I don’t think anyone is naive enough to suggest the TPPA would be any different

            Wayne’s proven that he is that naive.

            if in fact it was largely about trade

            And you’re right, it’s not about trade but about banks and money and how they can take ownership of NZ without having to use an armed invasion.

            It is a reduction in our ability to self-govern, self-regulate and is an acceleration of the global corporatocracy.

            QFT

          • Wayne 4.2.1.2.2

            Actually not true with China FTA, which has been a huge gain for NZ. It gives us tarriff and quota free access to China for all goods, including agricultral.

            China, arguably had other strategic objectives in mind in entering into the agreement with NZ.

            As for US agriculture – well the sequester makes the agriculture subsidies pretty vulnearble, and this is one of Obama’s objectives.

            • Colonial Viper 4.2.1.2.2.1

              It gives us tarriff and quota free access to China for all goods, including agricultral.

              You mean apart from the many times that China has been allowed to slap spontaneous tarriffs on to NZ imports since the signing of the agreement?

    • DH 4.3

      “In fact as Jane makes clear TPPA now has the strategic backing of the US, so its success is all the more certain. ”

      Your argument is all over the place. For starters Jane Kelsey doesn’t oppose the TPPA. She opposes some of what’s in it. Big difference there. Secondly you deliberately run Kelsey down for her beliefs and then concede that she does have valid arguments so what’s your point? Thirdly when you say that NZ will ratify the TPPA you’re not saying anything. It’s what is in the TPPA that concerns people, I doubt anyone is totally against trade itself it’s the terms & conditions we care about.

      • Wayne 4.3.1

        My experience of Jane is that she has oppossed every FTA that has actually been negotiated. Of course she would point out the specific issues that concerned her, but they were in all FTA’s, and her view was that if they were in the agreement it had to be oppossed.

        But I do recognise that she is very well researched – she knows the details, she writes well and is very articulate. But I fundamentally disagree with her perspective on the merits of free trade. I beleive it promotes overall welfare, she does not. And I also consider the evidence supports my proposition, not hers.

        Asia would not have the prosperity that it has today, unless the US market had the low tarriff barriers on manufactured goods that it has had for decades. The Asian economies had to export their low priced goods to the US to get their high growth rates. The US had to shift out of those sort of goods to higher value products and services.

        TPP is intended to further reduce tarriffs, especially on agricultral goods. For many markets, even in agriculture, the US expects to gain – beef into Asia, grain into Asia. For NZ the goal is diary and beef – we are a lower cost producer than the US.

        Jane does say that she supports “fair trade” as oppossed to free trade, but that seems to be trade which retains tarriffs rather than reducing them, or which has selective tarriffs, say low tarriffs for “fair trade” coffee but not for other coffee.

        By the way I understand that “fair trade” coffee is required to be produced by the grower and his/her family. There are to be no employees. Frankly I find that ludicrous – why shouldn’t people be able to employ others if they have the entreprenurial skill. It would be like banning NZ farmers from employing anyone on their farms. However, I concede no grower is forced to be part of the “fair trade” brand, but that is what it is, a brand.

        • DH 4.3.1.1

          Again your argument is all over the place. You belittle Kelsey in a clear attempt to rebut her by ad-hominem but you don’t address any of the arguments she’s made.

          I find it odd that you call the TPPA ‘free trade’ What’s free about it? If we are to be subjected to another nation’s laws then we’re not trading freely are we? You conceded that we have to give up certain freedoms in order to gain (potential) monetary rewards. How can giving up the right to trade freely, as we now do, be a precurser to free trade?

        • Colonial Viper 4.3.1.2

          lol how is the US ag lobby going to allow Obama to drop the massive annual Food Bill subsidies to them?

          Oh that’s right, it’s not.

          • DH 4.3.1.2.1

            These people who blindly support the TPPA are a bit odd. The biggest criticism of the TPPA is the secretive nature of the talks. We don’t know what they’re giving away or agreeing to. How can you support something you have no knowledge of?

            Without knowing what the negotiations are about it comes down to a matter of trust and risk evaluation. Can we trust the Govt to act in our best interests, can we trust them to get it right and if they make a mistake(s) that turn out to be bad for us what’s the potential costs and can the mistake be fixed?

            About the only thing we can conclude with certainty is that we can’t pull out of the TPPA once the deal is done. On that basis alone the default position should be to oppose it until overwhelming evidence is presented that proves its merits. Wayne here says “damn the torpedos, full steam ahead!”

    • Draco T Bastard 4.4

      But NZ sees that as a desirable outcome.

      No, it’s idiots that still hold onto the failed neo-liberal economic paradigm that see it as a desirable outcome.

      • Wayne 4.4.1

        Seemingly the majority of voters.

        • Draco T Bastard 4.4.1.1

          I don’t think that the majority of voters are holding on to the failed neo-liberal paradigm. It’s the political parties that are.

  5. georgecom 5

    Te Ohu Rata O Aotearoa (Maori Medical Practitioners Association) and the NZNO

    Monday 04 March 2013, 10:27am

    More than 400 members of New Zealand’s medical community have signed a letter to the Prime Minister asking him to be vigilant that our future health is not negotiated away under the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA).

    The letter, written by Christchurch paediatrician Philip Pattemore, was digitally signed online by 415 health professionals, mainly doctors and nurses.

    The letter expresses concerns over whether the TPPA could have a significant impact on New Zealanders’ future health and, in particular, the Government’s stated goal of achieving a smokefree New Zealand by 2025…”PHARMAC has saved the New Zealand taxpayer $5 billion over the past 12 years and greatly increased the access we have to medicine. Giving up the fight on patents could hike up the price of medicines significantly, causing inequity in access.”

    http://www.nzdoctor.co.nz/un-doctored/2013/march-2013/04/doctors-and-nurses-warn-prime-minister-over-trade-talks.aspx

    • karol 5.1

      Thanks for that information and link, georgecom. I hope it gets more widespread attention.

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