The latest round of negotiations for Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) - a free trade agreement (FTA) between Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada , Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore, Peru, the USA and Vietnam – kicked off this week in Virginia, USA.
The AMWU, as a member of the Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network (AFTINET), has raised a range of concerns about what is being negotiated, with particular concerns that the US will try to put back on the table the things that they were unable to achieve in the Australia US FTA.
While the Trade Minister, Dr. Craig Emerson, has committed to ensuring important matters like labour rights are included in FTAs, there are still some very important matters that members should call on the Government to reject. These include:
• The right for corporations to sue governments over health and environment regulation. This arrangement robs national or state governments the right to pass laws protecting our water or forests, or indeed to introduce plain paper packaging of cigarettes, without facing the prospect of being sued by private companies.
• Changes to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) leading to higher prices for medicines. The changes sought come from large drug making companies seeking to protect and increase their margins on their medicines by stopping our government from subsidizing generic brands of the same medicines to make them affordable for most Australians.
• Increased rights for patent and copyright holders at the expense of consumers. Again these changes would mean extending patents and copyrights to disallow similar products to compete and drive down costs.
• Reduce Australian content in government purchasing and in audio-visual media. At a time when manufacturing needs governments of all levels in this country to be buying Australian, these changes would restrict their ability to do so as well as attack our home grown music, TV and cultural productions.
• Remove labelling from genetically engineered food. At a time when we should be empowering consumers through clearer labelling, especially country of origin, anything that waters down information in labelling should be rejected.
Tell your government to reject these elements in any future Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement. Visit http://aftinet.org.au/cms/node/503 and send the Minister a letter.