Two TPPA Press Statements – 1. NOBEL WINNING ECONOMIST WROTE AN OPEN LETTER TO TPPA NEGOTIATORS and 2. TPPA: A GRIM NOTE FROM SALT LAKE CITY & SINGAPORE – English version only.

Dec 13, 2013 Publish by Media MTEM

PRESS STATEMENT 1

NOBEL WINNING ECONOMIST WROTE AN OPEN LETTER TO TPPA NEGOTIATORS

Malay Economic Action Council (MTEM) is in view that the Malaysian government should seriously look into the call by Professor Joseph Stiglitz who has written an open letter to the TPP negotiators, asking that they resist proposals to weaken consumer rights in intellectual property. The letter identifies 12 specific “grave risks” in the IP Chapter, and calls upon negotiators to publish the investor state dispute resolution text.

 

Professor Stiglitz is one of the best known economists in the world, having won the Nobel prize for Economic Science in 2001, and having previously served as the chief economist for the World Bank and the as the Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors to President Clinton.

Dear TPP negotiators,

As trade negotiators, you are being asked to resolve a large number of important issues that have divided Parties in the negotiations for a Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement.

The decision to make the negotiating text secret from the public (even though the details are accessible to hundred of advisors to bigcorporations) makes it difficult for the public to offer informed commentary.  But the recent publication of the negotiating text for theintellectual property rights chapter by Wikileaks, and an earlier leak of
the investor state dispute resolution proposals, as well as numerous reports in the business press, make it clear that the agreement presents grave risks on all sorts of topics.

As regards the provisions on intellectual property, negotiators should resist text that would, among other things:

 

1.     Weaken the 2001 Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health

2.     Mandate extensions of patents terms

3.     Mandate lower standards for granting patents on medicines

4.     Mandate granting patents on surgical procedures,

5.     Mandate monopolies of 12 years on test data for biologic drugs

6.     Narrow the grounds for granting compulsory license on patents,

7.     Increase damages for infringements of patents and copyrights

8.     Reduce space for exceptions as regards limits on injunctions, and

9.     Narrow copyright exceptions

10. Requiring life+ 70 years of copyright protection,

11. Mandate excessive enforcement measures for digital information, and otherwise restrict access to knowledge.

 

At this point in time, we do not need a TRIPS plus trade agreement; we need TRIPS minus agreement.  The TPP proposes to freeze into a binding trade agreement many of the worst features of the worst laws in the TPP countries, making needed reforms extremely difficult if not impossible.
The investor state dispute resolution mechanisms should not be shrouded in mystery to the general public, while the same provisions are routinely discussed with advisors to big corporations.

As a member of the BANTAH TPPA coalition group, MTEM is persistent in her call towards the Malaysian Government to immediately withdraw from further TPPA negotiation.   The voice of concern from experts like Professor Joseph Stiglitz and many others must be taken seriously by policy makers, lead TPPA negotiators, members of Parliament and business-owners as they poses an imminent danger to the freedom, sovereignty and prosperity of the country.

Thank you.

 

PRESS STATEMENT 2

 

TPPA: A GRIM NOTE FROM SALT LAKE CITY & SINGAPORE

 

Majlis Tindakan Ekonomi Melayu (MTEM), a member of the BANTAH TPPA coalition, is persistent in her call towards the Malaysian Government to seriously reconsider her further involvement in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPPA) negotiations. The recently concluded intersessional meetings in Salt Lake City, USA and Ministerial Meeting held in Singapore seems to portray the US bullying other TPPA country members to safeguard their own interest and not for our benefit.

 

The following is a press statement from Professor Jane Kelsey, a professor of Law from University of Auckland and a key expert in the subject of International Free Trade.  Professor Kelsey was commenting on the leaked memos of the Salt Lake City session, and TPPA Ministerial Meeting held until 11th December in Singapore, which she had attended.

 

New Huffington post leaks expose major divisions & USA heavying to get TPPA deal

Two internal documents from a country inside the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement negotiations have been leaked to Huffington Post and published under the headline ‘Obama Faces Backlash Over New Corporate Political Powers In Secret Trade Deal’.  The leak comes during the third day of the TPPA ministerial meeting in Singapore, where the 12 countries said they wanted to close the deal.

 

Both documents – a chart outlining the positions of each of the twelve countries on most of the major issues being discussed in Singapore, and a brutally frank account of the substantive developments around the Salt Lake City round late last month – expose deep political and substantive tensions inside the talks.

 

A scan of the chart of country positions shows the US out on a limb on many crucial issues, from rules on medicines, protection for of to cut hot money flows to prevent or address a financial crises and a raft of new rights for foreign investors.

 

‘These polarised positions make US strong-armed tactics even more worrying’, said Auckland University law professor Jane Kelsey who is monitoring the negotiations in Singapore.

 

‘Stories of bullying that I reported from Salt Lake City are born out by this insider account. The country’s predicted that US pressure would “increase with every passing day”.’

 

‘Mediocre’ progress in Salt Lake City was blamed on the lack of any ‘perceivable substantive movement’ by the US, which created an ‘uncertain scenario’ for Singapore. ‘even leaving aside the more complex issues (IP, SOEs and Environment), demonstrates a situation that makes it very difficult to think of a complete closure in December’.

 

The US was holding back on making offers on market access for agriculture until the Singapore ministerial, despite a series of ‘milestones’ for tabling offers that were to be reached before Singapore.  New Zealand, along with Canada, Chile, Australia and Peru were reported to be frustrated with the US approach and a continued lack of transparency

 

The US had also been dominating the agendas of the chiefs and the sector groups, determining what versions of documents are discussed and marginalising dissenters. For example, it had produced a ‘non-paper’ on intellectual property in Salt Lake City, which it insisted form the basis for discussions on controversial medicines issues.

 

The chart and narrative documents lay out the positions of each of the twelve countries on almost all the outstanding issues up for decision in Singapore, including New Zealand’s.

 

‘Read alongside the intellectual property text that Wikileaks posted last month, these leaked documents give us a much clearer sense of what our government is doing inside the talks, even though it refuses to tell us’, Kelsey said.

 

‘Knowing the government’s position, and how it lines up with other countries, allows us to hold the government to account now, and if they sell out further in a final deal.’

 

There are some worrying positions. For example, New Zealand is not supporting other countries that want a general exception that deals with public health, environment, public morals to apply to the entire investment chapter, including the powerful rights that investors rely on to sue the government. The exception itself is weak, but governments are further disarmed in the face of foreign investors without it.

 

Crunch decisions on medicines in TPPA, Australia already sold others down the river

‘Enormous pressure on the non-US ministers in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement negotiations is likely to see some governments cave in this afternoon or tomorrow morning on medicines and copyright’, according to Professor Jane Kelsey in Singapore.

 

The first phase of the ministerial process on intellectual property is over. Ministers from four countries – Mexico, Canada, the US and Vietnam – have crunched the issues on the table, and are now seeking responses in plenary from the rest.

 

Significantly, the strongest defenders of affordable medicines – New Zealand and Chile – were shut out of the small group on intellectual property.

 

‘Singapore is nominally hosting the meeting. But we believe the US designed this process, decided who will be in what groups, and is driving the ministers to make rash decisions. Some countries are saying they will have to choose their top few red lines, and be prepared to give away the rest’, Kelsey said.

 

In addition, documents leaked by Huffington post and Wikileaks today show Australia has already compromised on the so-called Transparency Annex on Healthcare Technologies. That Annex aims to increase drug companies’ leverage over the decision making processes of medicine purchasing agencies like Pharmac.

 

‘Australia has agreed to a position similar to what it accepted in its free trade deal with the US in 2005.  That may be fine for Australia. But it has sold down the river all those other countries for whom the Annex process would have a serious impact, including New Zealand’, Professor Kelsey said.

 

Last week over 60 medical professionals called on the government to hold the line on a whole range of health issues, including generics and the Pharmac process.

 

‘Clearly the government is not listening to its domestic experts who have committed their lives to a quality and sustainable public health system’.

 

‘New Zealand needs to hold firm and not throw others under the bus, as Australia appears to have done’, said Kelsey. Their previous positions are now public, so everyone will know if they sell out New Zealand’s public health system’.

 

The voice of concern and protest from various parties especially MTEM over the past year has proven just how skewed and absurd the entire negotiation process is towards USA’s interest, and how the secrecy shrouding the agreement is being manipulated to shut off other member country like Malaysia, or other stakeholders who are deemed as a threat to fulfilling America’s terms and demands.  As more and more chapters have been concluded, the deal breaker right now will be focused on the Intellectual Property Chapter (IP) and the new State Owned Enterprise chapter (SOE).   It must be highlighted that the impact of these two chapters if they were to be concluded will be entirely felt by the developing countries and its people.  The price of medicine will be dictated by big pharmaceutical corporations; and the progress of the developing nation will be retarded by overwhelming patent protection and extension.   Malaysia will be fighting a losing battle when both chapters are enforced with ISDS law.

 

MTEM therefore urge Malaysia under the present government to immediately withdraw from TPPA negotiation, for the sake of our national interest, sovereignty and freedom.

 

Thank you.

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