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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.”