Monday, November 25, 2013

Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement stalled but still a threat

Vanguard December 2013 p. 7
Alice M.

US imperialism is having a hard time ramming through its Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement on the nations of the Pacific region.

Despite all its efforts to keep the detail of negotiations secret, Wikileaks has published a draft text of the Intellectual Property Rights chapter, which deals with issues such as medicines, biological patents, internet services, publishing and civil liberties.
The leak exposes continuing differences as the various nations; including Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Canada, Vietnam, Chile, Brunei and Mexico resist the pressure of US imperialism to comply with its demands. Shamefully, Australia is the most subservient, raising only a few quibbles and endorsing Obama’s demand to sign off by the end of the year.

A key issue in dispute is the extension of patents for medications, which cuts across the production of cheaper generic medications, resulting in higher costs for healthcare. There is also the threat to Australia’s Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme which subsidises many costs. "The Obama administration's shameful bullying on behalf of the giant drug companies would lead to preventable suffering and death in Asia-Pacific countries," Peter Maybarduk, director of Public Citizen's global access to medicines program, said in a statement.

Of great concern in the TPP is the proposal for Investor-State Rights which allow multinational companies to sue governments to compensate for any restriction or limitations placed on their business due to national laws or regulations – such protections as pollutions control, health and safety, quarantine, food standards, food labelling, etc. What this amounts to is control and monopolisation by US corporate monopolies of markets and production.

While the differences have stalled the negotiations somewhat, a big factor in the reluctance of the different countries to toe the line is the enormous popular opposition to the TPP which has arisen as more details come out.

All participating countries now have active protest groups among unions, small manufacturers, local councils, health workers, farmers, etc. that hound their politicians and warn them not to sell out their national interest..

The Australian people will be shocked to learn that the text of this far-reaching agreement is only available to three un-named people and will not be debated by parliament. On the other hand, 600 'trade advisers' from US corporations such as Chevron, Halliburton, Monsanto and Walmart get to see their parts of the text.

Julian Assange has referred to Australia’s "cringingly obsequious" role in endorsing the position of the US negotiators. In this Labor before and the Abbott government now have been united.

We must be vigilant and oppose and defeat any attempts to force this evil treaty on the Australian people.

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