By Terry Xu
Do you know what your government is signing your country into? That is the question that some may have over the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement that currently involves twelve nations. The countries are the US, Japan, Australia, Peru, Malaysia, Vietnam, New Zealand, Chile, Singapore, Canada, Mexico, and Brunei Darussalam.
Over one million have signed on a petition to ask the governments to make the TPP process transparent and accountable. The petition further ask the governments to reject any plans within the agreement to limit the government’s power to regulate in the public interest, suggesting that the TPP is a threat to the rights of the common people. (Petition Link)
The TPP negotiations which began in 2007, aims to expand the existing free trade agreement between Chile, New Zealand, Singapore and Brunei to include the US, Australia, Japan, Malaysia, Vietnam, Peru and Canada.
According to the website of Australia government’s Foreign Affairs and Trade, this agreement pact will cover almost 40% of global GDP and over 25% of world trade. (No such data in Singapore’s Trade Ministry)
“The TPP is ostensibly intended to be a “high-standard” agreement aimed at emerging trade issues in the 21st century. These ongoing negotiations have drawn criticism and protest from the public, advocacy groups, and elected officials, in part due to the secrecy of the negotiations, the expansive scope of the agreement, and controversial clauses in drafts leaked to the public.” – Wikipedia
Other than covering of traditional trade issues, such as the movement of goods and services, it also covers many policy areas that previously have been matters for domestic policy making rather than trade negotiations. This agreement touches on many issues with a public interest dimension, such as drug and other patents, copyright and the internet which is much for concern.
The agreement is shrouded with much secrecy with most of what has been shared and discussed online from leaks of negotiating documents. The most current document on the agreement is a consolidated draft of the intellectual property chapter, leaked by Wikileaks on 13 November. (see below for embedded pdf)
One of the areas which the agreement is said to be affected most is the access to medicine. French secular humanitarian-aid non-governmental organization, Doctors without Borders published a briefing on the TPP stating (Link for PDF),
“Unless damaging provisions are removed before negotiations are finalized, the TPP agreement is on track to become the most harmful trade pact ever for access to medicines in developing countries.”
Some may say that negotiations should be left for the ministers to settle. But is it not a concern for the common people that no detail of how their rights may be signed off without them knowing or that the agreement is not being raised as an issue for debate in the Singapore parliament? Is it not something that needs to be consulted?[spacer style=”1″ icon=”none”]
Starting from this Saturday, the trade ministers from the 12 countries will meet at Dec. 7 to 9 in Singapore, at the Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel to iron out the terms in the agreement and hope to come to a conclusion this end of the year.
Ask your representative in the parliament.
Does your member of parliament know of this? And what does he or she thinks about this? If you have pressing questions about this whole agreement before the deal is finalized, you may like to write to your MP to ask for his or her views on TPP and if they would raise your questions in the parliament. (Look here who’s your MP if you are unsure)
And for documentation on email sent and the questions raised, you may also copy my email in the email exchange at [email protected]
Refer more in the links here
Below is the leaked document of TPP on the intellectual property chapter by Wikileaks.