rising protests, 13th TPPA talks kick off
Dear friends and colleagues,
The 13th negotiating round of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement officially kicked off on Monday in San Diego, California, from July 2-10, 2012, even as protests and reservations get stronger over both the substance as well as the manner in which the negotiations have taken place between the governments of the Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, United States, Vietnam.
Mexico and Canada were recently invited to join the talks, which are not expected to conclude before early next year.
The US, as the lead TPP country seeking to ink the most ambitious free trade agreement since the North American Free Trade Agreement was signed about 20 years ago, has touted the proposed deal as a "21st Century" trade agreement that seeks ‘higher’ and uniform standards between Parties for intellectual property rights, over state-owned enterprises (SOEs ), the elimination of tariffs and non-tariff barriers, opening government procurement to suppliers and products from other TPP countries and opening service sectors to foreign companies.
Over the past two and half years, however, concerns have been voiced by a wide spectrum of quarters over issues such as the secrecy surrounding the negotiations; the grave consequences for access to affordable medicines; environmental and health safeguards; and the nature of regulations of financial services and institutions.
Most recently, the proposed investment chapter was leaked to a civil society organisation and posted online to reveal that TPP countries had agreed to a number of provisions such as:
Another matter to which all TPP governments except Australia have agreed is the controversial Investor-state dispute (ISD) arbitration proposal, which would allow TPP investors to sue a TPP government at an international arbitration tribunal for monetary compensation and compound interest at a commercially reasonable rate for violations of the investment chapter, including the provisions above.
We wish to draw your attention to the following:
Below, please find
With best wishes,
Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement: Leaked investment chapter confirms CAP’s fears
Malaysia has since October 2010 been negotiating a Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) with the United States and seven other countries involved in the negotiations including Australia, Brunei, Chile, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.
On June 13, the proposed investment chapter for the TPP was leaked and posted online by the Washington-based non-governmental organisation Public Citizen.
After perusing the leaked document, the Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) feels compelled to express its grave concern at some of its provisions.
The leaked text shows that Malaysia has agreed to provisions that give extended rights and privileges to foreign investors and private corporations and limit the power of our government to regulate how those firms operate within our borders. This is tantamount to placing foreign corporate interests above the welfare and interests of our own citizens.
The leaked investment chapter confirms the fears expressed by CAP in a letter to the press in December 2011 that the TPP would create a two-track legal system that would empower foreign firms to skirt our domestic courts and directly sue our government in foreign arbitration tribunals for taxpayer-funded monetary compensation if they deem that the domestic financial, health, environmental, land use and other laws put in place to regulate their investments have harmed their investments.
This means the Malaysian government has agreed that if an investor feels his/her rights have been violated by a law, regulation, policy or programme – even if it were put in place in the interests and welfare of the citizenry – the investor can sue the Malaysian government at an international tribunal, for unlimited monetary compensation and interest.
As revealed in Section B of the leaked text, furthermore, these tribunals would not meet standards of transparency, consistency or due process common to any of the TPP countries’ domestic legal systems or provide fair, independent or balanced venues for resolving disputes between sovereign nations and private investors. The tribunals would be staffed by private sector lawyers that rotate between acting as ‘judges’ and as advocates for the investors suing the governments.
It is instructive to note that while all the other TPP countries agreed to this oppressive provision, Australia refused to do so. If the Australian government could reject this provision, why could not the Malaysian government have done the same?
The leaked investment chapter reveals that Malaysia has already agreed to give foreign companies a number of extensive rights including:
The above means, for example, that in the area of tobacco control (an area where CAP has been active for many years), tobacco companies could challenge Malaysia’s regulations (as they have already been doing, using equivalent treaty provisions to sue Uruguay and Australia for their tobacco control measures). Other than the damages an international arbitral panel may award against Malaysia that may amount to hundreds of millions of dollars, even just the prospect of such suits would have a ‘chilling effect’ on regulations including tobacco control measures seeking to regulate the production, distribution, marketing or consumption of tobacco- and tobacco-linked products.
Given all the above, CAP calls for:
However, if the government persists in negotiating an investment chapter in the TPP, CAP calls on the government to:
The Ministry of International Trade and Industry to clarify whether it is asking for:
Joint Statement against the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA)
Generic medicines save lives by preventing, curing and managing non-communicable and communicable diseases for all Malaysians, especially the lower-income and marginalised groups.
The United States via the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) is demanding strict provisions that will reduce access to these affordable medicines. We oppose the following provisions because deprivation of affordable medicines will result in increased burden of disease, increased morbidity, and indirectly, productivity and human resources losses that will affect the economy of the nation. This economic and social burden will lie on the government – when medicines are expensive, people will eventually run out of money and turn to government hospitals for treatment.
Treatment of non-communicable diseases and communicable diseases alike require affordable generic medicines and affordable technology, and we categorically oppose US demands for longer and stronger patents on medicines and medical technologies that are essential to save Malaysian lives.
The most frequent occurring cancer is breast cancer, which similarly to other cancers, requires affordable chemotherapy medicines. HIV second line medicines like Kaletra are required to save lives, and are often out of reach of the pockets of persons living with HIV. Many other conditions depend on generic medicines: cancer, tuberculosis, and malaria are just a few. According to the 2011 National Health and Morbidity Survey, 2.6 million Malaysians are diabetic. 80% of these people attend government clinics and hospitals, meaning that a majority of them take generic medicines.
Patented medicines are very expensive:
In addition to that, the US wants Malaysian negotiators to agree to new kinds of patents. Patents are normally granted on the medicine itself, but the US wants to patent the way to use a medicine, for example, if a medicine is found to treat another disease, that medicine is now eligible for a second patent. The US also wants to patent new forms of a medicine, eg changing the medicine from a tablet to asyrup (so that children can take it) and according to the new patent rules, the medicine could have a new 20-year patent. The US is also demanding strict border control measures which enable TPP governments to seize generic medicines when being imported, exported or in transit, so long as they look confusingly similar to trademarked goods.
All of these are tricks to ensure that Malaysians are forced to use expensive patented medicines for longer periods of time, so US-based innovators of medicine earn more profits.
We stand in opposition to any and all proposals that negatively affect access to medicines in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement including:
Since the negotiations and texts are secret, Malaysians have no way of knowing what has been agreed to and whether there have been overt and arbitrary breaches of the right to health. What we know so far in regard to medicines has been gathered from leaked documents from the negotiations which can be found at: http://www.citizenstrade.org/ctc/wpcontent/uploads/2011/10/TransPacificIP1.pdf.
We ask that the Malaysian government reject patent extension provisions, data linkage, and border control measures that enable foreign customs officials to seize our medicines, and all other proposals as above that negatively affect access to medicines.
We stand in solidarity with all other peoples & movements whose rights to life, health, livelihood, equality, equity, food, environment, knowledge, traditional systems of life & livelihood will also be negatively impacted by these free trade agreements that threaten to widen the gap between the rich & the poor not only between countries but within countries as well.
Dr. Raj Karim
Dr. Roslina Abdul Manap
Ang Kim Teng