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TPPA Attack on Pharmac
A secret TPPA Transparency Annex on Pharmaceutical products has been posted on Wikileaks, exposing the second prong of attack on Pharmac alongside the intellectual property chapter. Together medicines will become more expensive. John Key said NZers won’t pay any more than $5 for prescriptions under TPPA; that would mean more money into the health budget (not likely!), fewer meds are subsidised, or money goes from another part of the health budget to pay for meds. The only winner is Big Phrma. Jane Kelsey argues the real aim is to stop Pharmac setting a precedent for other countries. “New Zealanders’ health and our taxpayer dollars are being held ransom in a much bigger game”. See expert analysis of the leaked Annex by Dr Deborah Gleeson, Jane Kelsey, and Public Citizen.
What the Docs had to say
Dr Josh Freeman from Doctors for Healthy Trade said the Annex would tip the balance of power toward the pharmaceutical industry. Executive Director of the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists Ian Powell said “Pharmac will effectively be left fighting for New Zealand patients and taxpayers with one arm behind its back and the other arm in a sling.” Cancer specialist George Laking has a brilliant op ed in the Herald warning the trend to a two-tier health system could get much worse under TPPA.
‘Endgame’ negotiations in chaos: Guam Ministerial Cancelled
The proposed Ministerial meeting at the end of May in Guam was ultimately cancelled, because some countries (not NZ!) refused to meet until the US President has Fast Track authority to stop Congress picking their deal apart. Instead ministers met over breakfast at Apec in the Philippines.
Huge defeat for Obama as US House Democrats Say No Fast Track
A Bill to grant Fast Track has to be approved by both the US Senate and House. It got through the US Senate two weeks ago, after failing at first attempt. But almost all the Democrats in the House are opposed. Some tricky procedural ploys last Friday saw one part squeak through but the second part fail, which was fatal for the Bill. See Mike Hosking’s rant on self-serving US politicians and the virtues of secrecy and TPPA. Obama and his new BFFs the Republicans will keep trying again over the next couple of weeks. They are now planning a vote on Friday our time by linking Fast Track to a Bill on retirement plans for firefighters! Their time is running out. No fast track, no ministerial, no political trade-offs, no TPPA!
Chile refuses to be pushed around by US
Chile's foreign minister recently spent two hours answering questions in Parliament, and promised "we will not take new commitments on intellectual property ... or modify our internal legislation". If the US insisted on "”interfering in our regulatory sovereignty" by refusing to certify Chile’s compliance "the agreement will not enter into force". All NZ gets from Trade Minister Groser is weasel words and ‘trust me’.
Fighting Foreign Corporate Control Bill
The FFCC Bill is yet to have its first reading, and it may still be some time before this takes place. We are planning to have an action outside Parliament on the day the Bill has its first reading, but at this stage we do not have any clearer idea of when this might be. Watch this space!
Select Committee Report on Korea FTA buried
The Select Committee’s report was quietly tabled in parliament on a Friday afternoon. The Greens and NZ First opposed the FTA because of ISDS; Labour hedged its bets on ISDS and supported the FTA. But it looks like the report won’t get debated. National is determined to avoid any debate on ISDS, which suggests the thousands of submissions have shaken them. Burying the report also confirms that Parliament has no say over these deals.
Three more Councils endorse TPPA resolution
In another victory for TPP Action Palmerston North has become the 10th council to adopt the TPP 12-point resolution, following from Upper Hutt City Council and Kapiti Coast District Council also in April. These ten councils and their territories represent a majority of NZ’s population. TPP Action has since presented to the Long Term Plans (LTP) of Hastings, Rotorua, and South Wairarapa District Councils, the Carterton District Council LTP and the South Wairarapa District Council’s Maori Standing Committee. Each Council appears to be taking the request to adopt the resolution seriously. Next up is Tauranga City Council, whose meeting on 23rd June will have a report on TPPA from Council Staff for decision.
TISA leaks threaten deregulation to public services
Recent leaked documents from another proposed mega-deal, the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA), reveal new far-reaching threats to the government’s right to make policy and regulate services. Jane Kelsey says it would lock in the failed model of ‘light-handed’ and ‘risk-tolerant’ model of regulation that “brought us finance company collapses, leaky buildings, the Pike River mining disaster [and] elder abuse in our rest homes.’ FIRST Union’s Robert Reid said TISA would mean “a free pass to the big banks to operate on a global scale with minimal regulation”; with stricter secrecy than even the TPPA “it’s the kind of backdoor deal that would make even FIFA proud”.
What exactly is ‘Grossing’?
A scathing article has by American policy analyst Mary Bates has said that NZ Trade Minister Tim Groser’s ‘counter-productive, undiplomatic sledging’ has led to a new slang term in Washington, ‘grossing’. The term came out of Groser’s attacks on the Canadian system of dairy supply management, comparing it to the Soviet Union.
This morning’s leak of documents from the highly secretive Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) negotiations are a backdoor to widespread deregulation, according to FIRST Union General Secretary Robert Reid.
“The documents demonstrate that the government is trying to lock New Zealanders out from deciding how services are regulated, including in FIRST Union’s coverage areas of finance and transport, as well as telecommunications, post and the professions.”
“‘Liberalisation of trade in services’ is trade-speak for limiting government influence over the services that New Zealanders use every day. The NZ government’s involvement in these negotiations shows utter contempt for the democratic process, giving foreign investors and corporates disproportionate control over how services are regulated.”
“In the finance sector this means a free pass to the big banks to operate on a global scale with minimal regulation, driving down costs and employment conditions through off-shoring. Banks are solely concerned about maximising their profits. They take no responsibility for financial instability and crisis, leaving working class people to bear the brunt of the losses.”
“For the transport sector, service liberalisation will be a gift to large transport companies, driving down safety and employment conditions while creating barriers for government investment management or operation of national transport infrastructure.”
“TISA is not an economic development plan, it’s the kind of backdoor deal that would make even FIFA proud.”
“The secret Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) negotiations from the 1990s fell to pieces as information about its potential impacts started to come to light. FIRST Union categorically opposes secret ‘trade’ negotiations and calls on the government to make all negotiations public immediately so democracy can take its course.”
In This Issue
· Transnational Tax Dodgers
· Fight to End Zero Hour Contracts
· Roger Award Winners
· Climate Change
· Articles by:
o Jane Kelsey
o Murray Horton
o Mike Treen
o John Minto
Support our work and join (its only $20)
INTERNATIONAL DAY OF ACTION 18 APRIL
Campaigners in Europe, the US, Australia and Canada are coordinating activities to oppose the twin deals – TPPA and TTIP (the US-EU version) – on 18 April.
Since we have just had the national action we are only having two small actions:
1. Click on itsourfuture and tell the government no to investors rights to sue (more below)
2. Auckland activists are planning an action outside the US Consulate.
SAY NO TO FOREIGN INVESTORS’ RIGHTS TO SUE – ACT NOW!
The Wikileaks TPPA investment chapter showed our government has agreed to special rights for foreign investors (including US and Japan) to sue in shonky offshore tribunals. It has just done the same in a new Korea deal.
What can I do?
Send a submission to the select committee on the Korea deal until Friday 24 April. It won’t make any difference to that FTA because it’s already signed and Cabinet controls the process, but it is a perfect way to tell the government NO to ISDS (investor-state dispute settlement) in any deal, including TPPA. Over 2000 people have done so already.
- Just click here and share the link with everyone
- Write your own submission and send to email@example.com
Splash page on itsourfuture website
Click itsourfuture.org.nz and get all the basic info you need, plus the submission on the Korea FTA and support for NZ First’s Fighting Foreign Corporate Control bill to say no ISDS ever again.
More detailed information
See Jane Kelsey’s lay persons’ guide on Korea and TPPA investment chapter.
Brilliant video summary on ISDS
'Crony Capitalism Goes Global' (6mins) produced by Represent Us (an anti-corruption organisation) does a nice job breaking down concerns about TPP and ISDS for a popular (US) audience, available on Facebook and YouTube. (Pity they keep calling it a ‘trade’ deal tho.)
Lots of good media says NO ISDS …
- Dita de Boni in NZ Herald on ‘Peters’ Mission to Save our Sovereignty’
- Jane Kelsey in NZ Herald ‘Leaked text has all the dangers govt promised to negotiate away.
- Jane Kelsey Daily Blog, support NZ First’s Bill and Stop the TPPA
- Gordon Campbell on ISDS in Scoop
- US Sen Elizabeth Warren in Washington Post
- Deb Gleeson in The Conversation on risks of ISDS to health
- Kyla Tienhaara The Drum ‘These TPP Safeguards won’t protect us from ISDS’.
- Aussie free trade think tank criticises ISDS
NEWS FROM IN AOTEAROA
Winston commits to Oppose TPPAThe TPPA featured at most election meetings during the Northland by-eleciton. Winston committed to stop the TPPA in Parliament (not sure how …)
More local councils sign on
More councils are signing up all the time, with the Hutt City Council adopting the Resolution on 24 March and some great work taking place in Tauranga, thanks to the great work of the local TPPA Action Group chapters. Groser is getting so worried he apparently held a special meeting with Local Govt NZ people and the Auckland Council last week in Auckland.
WHAT’S UP WITH THE DEAL?
Latest US Con: ‘Fast Track’
Unlike NZ, the US Congress gets to approve any final TPPA. At last, a number of governments including NZ have said they won’t make a final deal unless Obama has ‘fast track’, which means Congress must vote yes or no and can’t pick apart any ‘final’ TPPA. A bill giving fast track will be dropped into the Congress this week. It won’t pass, but the US hopes introducing it will be enough for other governments to sign a deal – another con job courtesy of Uncle Sam.
Status of the negotiations
Obama and Japan’s PM Abe meet in the US at the end of April – after that we’ll have a good sense if they can do the deal. The final ministers’ meeting is slated for around 25 to 27 May – right at the end of their window to complete by June. The chief negotiators are meeting on 23-26 April near Washington DC to close any remaining issues they can and be ready for the ministers.
OTHER NEW & RESOURCES
Al Jazeera exposes Big Pharma kills
Fire in the Blood shows the human price of new rules on patents that make medicines unaffordable.
ISDS Corporate Attacks
This excellent website, established by Public Citizen in the US, gives a huge amount of information on how ISDS works, how it affects areas like health, climate change, enerfy, the environment, financial stability and essential services, and how people are fighting back.
TTIP: Regulatory Cooperation - a Threat to Democracy
The EU activists have a great video on how the US-EU deal (TTIP) will give corporations power of national regulations starting with chlorinated chicken! Not exactly the same as TPPA but the same theme…
White House lies on TPPA and environment
More desperation: White House says environment NGOs Love the TPPA, but enviros say otherwise.