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International civil society groups slam corporate influence on Trans-Pacific free trade talks

Matangi Tonga | Thursday, March 1, 2012

International civil society groups slam corporate influence on Trans-Pacific free trade talks

Sydney, Australia — The 11th round of Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement negotiations between Australia, the US, New Zealand, Malaysia and four other countries starts in Melbourne on March 1. Civil society groups from those countries are in Melbourne to contest corporate influence and debate the issues.

"US global corporations are driving US negotiators’ proposals," Dr Patricia Ranald, Convenor of the Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network (AFTINET) said today. "Pharmaceutical companies want more rights to charge higher prices for medicines and tobacco companies want the right to sue governments for damages if they regulate tobacco advertising. Australian government policy should mean that it refuses these demands, supports labour rights and environmental protections and releases the text of the agreement for public debate before it is signed."

Chee Yoke Ling, Director of Programmes, and Third World Network, explained: "In Malaysia, the TPPA will have a big impact, since we do not already have an FTA with the USA. Leaked proposals from the USA on intellectual property show that it continues to seek strong protections for its pharmaceutical corporations, which will raise medicines prices for millions of ordinary people. And the USA’s push for investor rights for its companies threatens needed regulations for all the countries involved."

Professor Jane Kelsey, University of Auckland added: "We are seeing a real backlash in New Zealand against the National government’s revival of the old privatisation and deregulation agenda, and mounting foreign control of the country’s natural resources and key assets. That is starting to infect the TPPA, which is why Trade Minister Groser wants to push the deal through before people understand how it will lock us into that model forever."

Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, a prominent U.S. consumer organization, said: "Despite repeated polls showing that a majority of Americans oppose more of the same corporate power grabs disguised as "trade" agreements, negotiators are pushing for a TPP that would only benefit the 1 percent. Whatever one thinks about "free trade" that is not the real agenda of US negotiators. There are 600-plus official corporate Trade Advisors who want to use the TPP to get new investor rights to control other countries’ natural resources, attack health and environmental policy and boost their profits with rules that force drug price increases and financial deregulation."

– AFTIN, 28 Feb 2012.

 source: Matangi Tonga