Trans-Pacific Agreement on Economic Association

Is it possible that we all are looser?

Saturday 25 May 2013

All the versions of this article: [English] [Español]

Authorship: Third World Network

Editorial: Third World Network

Canal: Third World Network

Type of document: Article

Language: Spanish

Theme: Economy

Keywords: Agreements and treaties, Capitalism, Transnational trade, International conflicts, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Economy, World economy, Political negotiations.

Countries and Regions: Peru, Brunei, Chile, New Zealand, Singapore, Australia, Canada, United States of America, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico.

In a parallel way to the negotiation for the Trans-Pacific Association Agreement held in Lima, there were a Public Forum and a stand up to call attention on the danger this agreement entails in relation to the Price of drugs, freedom on Internet and labor rights, as well as the new potential demands against Peru due to the investment protection chapter.

Representatives from eleven countries held in Lima, from May 15 to 24, the Seventeenth Round of negotiations for the Trans Pacific Strategic Economic Association Agreement (known as TPP for its acronym in English) a commercial treaty of a “wide range” which goes beyond formal trade, since it creates a regime for the protection of rights of the private anonymous capital and that of the transnational companies (intellectual property and investments).

The Trans Pacific Strategic Economic Association Agreement, according to representatives from the US Trade Department, represents a “historical achievement” since it contains all desirable elements from modern commercial agreements, eliminate all tariff and non-tariff barriers and also “is flexible enough to allow for future adjustments”.

Without running the risk of exaggerating, what is at stake with the Trans Pacific Strategic Economic Association Agreement are the most basic issues of democratic governability for any sovereign and independent State; these are the words of researchers and activists from all over the world.

In parallel to the round of negotiations for the Trans Pacific Strategic Economic Association Agreement, initially signed by Brunei, Chile, New Zealand and Singapore with the adding later on of Australia, Canada, United States of America, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico and Peru, Peruvian and international organizations called, for Thursday 16 to a Public Forum: “TPP: Is it possible that we all are losers?, and on Friday 17 they had a stand up across the Hotel Marriot in Miraflores, where official negotiations were taking place behind closed doors, to ring an alert on the dangers entailed by the agreement on issues of drug pricing, freedom on internet and labor rights, as well as the vulnerability created by the chapter on investment protection for signatory countries.

Secret Negotiations.

The first criticism to the Trans Pacific Strategic Economic Association Agreement stems from the “openly anti-democratic negotiation scheme” according to a declaration presented by more than one hundred and thirty organizations of the Americas alerting on the risk of the agreement under negotiation in Lima.

“We are launching a public call on the need of make transparent the negotiations for the Trans Pacific Strategic Economic Association Agreement” said Alejandra Alayza Moncloa, executive coordinator of the Peruvian Network for a Globalization with Equity (RedGE according to its acronym in Spanish), in a sort of presentation of the document. “The Trans Pacific Strategic Economic Association Agreement for most of our countries is not only a new Free Trade Agreement with the United States but also it constitutes several additional FTAs in a single blow”. And she continues saying that in this negotiations which are taking place in a complete anti-democratic way, “the rules and standards of what will be the Asia-Pacific investment model are being defined”.

Melinda St. Louis, from Public Citizen, denounced at the Public Forum in Lima the characteristics that the negotiations in the United States are taking where the marginalization of the Congress is in contrast with the specific information obtained by large companies. Mark Weisbrot, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) in Washington refers to this aspect: “The Trans Pacific Strategic Economic Association Agreement is so special that the officials from the government engaged in the negotiations want to keep it completely in secret”, to such an extent that not “even will allow a single member of Congress to know what is under negotiation. Nevertheless, hundreds of corporations have been granted access to the draft text” (“The “free trade” agreements will not create new jobs, but Another highly criticized issue was that of investments www.cepr.net).

The investment protection

The investment protection chapter of the Trans Pacific Strategic Economic Association Agreement allow investor to file demands against States at international courts such as the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes – ICSID, the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law, without going first to the national justice.

Peru has thirty two bilateral investment agreements and new free trade agreements also including chapters dealing on investment. The amount of demands against the Peruvian state presented using these two types of treaties has increased in recent years and the country is being sued in the amount of US $ dollars 6,000 millions, without including “costs entailed for all Peruvians, when confronting and implementing these processes”, said José de Echave, former minister of the Environment in Peru and a researcher of the NGO CooperAcción.

One of the most symbolic cases, given the fact it is the first one using the chapert of the Free Trade Agreement with United States is that of Doe Run and Renco Group, through which the Peruvian State is immersed in an arbitration process facing a compensation of US$ 800 dollars for the closing of the operations of the Metallurgical Plant of La Oroya, one of the most polluted cities in the whole world. “Is it really the only way to attract investments the country needs?, ask De Echave. “There is international evidence saying it is not like that. Countries which have signed the largest number of free trade agreements or signed bilateral agreements are not the largest receivers of foreign investment”.

The chapter on the Trans Pacific Strategic Economic Association Agreement dealing on investments, according to De Echave, “is being used as a sort of shielded lock so that countries as Peru will not be able to implement reforms on social, environmental democratic governance, state presence, previous consultation, environmental regulation issues”. Why shall we promote an identical model of the investment chapter which is being questioned and impedes to fulfill the required reform agenda?.

Access to drugs.

The strict nature of the protection standards on intellectual property related to drug patents included in the Trans Pacific Strategic Economic Association Agreement is another reason for alarm. The project under debate mentions the possibility of indefinitely prologue the validity of patents of drugs through new applications or properties of the drug, which suppose a tacit prohibition of producing or importing generic drugs. This issue has been proposed by the US in the chapter of on intellectual property and exclusively benefits the large pharmaceutical industry in detriment of citizens; this is denounced by the Alianza LAC-Global for Access to Drugs.

Médicos sin Fronteras (MSF) demanded to reconsider the paragraph on the Access to drugs and warned on the dangers of proposed regulations. . Judit Rius, coordinator of the campaign for the Access to drugs in MSF in US told at the Public Forum that the Lima Round offers the possibility so that those negotiating the Trans Pacific Strategic Economic Association Agreement eliminate the damaging clauses from the agreement before it is too late.

Copyrights and freedom on Internet.

In spite of the fact that the paragraph on copyrights has been kept secret, a leak of documents allow civil organizations to know that the US intends to control contents published on the social networks. Francisco Vera, Project Director on Digital Rights, an NGO devoted to the defense, promotion and development of human rights in the digital environment, said at the Public Forum in Lima that the US demands mean a criminalization of Internet users and runs contrary to the freedom of speech. “That what is being asked in the Trans Pacific Strategic Economic Association Agreement goes beyond the Law Sopa (Stop Online Piracy Act – Cease to online piracy)”, A draft law presented in 2011 at the US House of Representatives prolonging the powers of the Justice Department and expanding the powers of the owners of the copyrights to fight online traffic of contents and products protected.

The risks to Peru.

Melinda St. Louis, from Public Citizen, a counterbalance organization to corporative power with its seat in Washington, listed in the Public Forum at Lima the dangers the Trans Pacific Strategic Economic Association Agreement entail for Peru. The country might be exposed to a growing number of judicial demands by foreign companies from all countries, a fact that was expressed by the American activist, who said that the health and land use policies, public contracting, intellectual property rights and the regulation of financial instruments could be the targets.

But St. Louis concluded that given the fact that Australia is refusing to abide by the dispute resolution between investor – State in the Trans Pacific Strategic Economic Association Agreement, other countries such as Peru should demand the same thing..

See online : Trans Pacific Strategic Economic Association Agreement

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