This website was part of a research project supported by a grant from the
School of Law at the University of Auckland to identify and critically
evaluate the potential implications of the Trans-Pacific Partnership
It is no longer being maintained. For updates on the TPPA from a New Zealand civil society
perspective, please head to http://www.itsourfuture.org.nz/.

News 13/12: Petition created to stop TPP negotiations. World Bank academic warns against excluding China. Fears for Japan health insurance system in negotiations.

1. An open petition has been initiated on the US government's "We The People" online platform, asking that TPP negotiations be stopped. As of today, the petition has nearly 2,000 signatures, and is aiming to reach around 23,000 signatures by Boxing Day.

2. Aaditya Mattoo and Arvind Subramanian (of the World Bank and Peterson Institute for International Economics, respectively) have written an op-ed for the Financial Times (subscriber-only) warning that setting up the TPP expressly to exclude China, as some perceive US strategy to be doing, would lead to "fragmentation and folly".

3. Japanese physician Dr. Tetsuro Irohira has written an open editorial on the challenges he says joining the TPP could pose to Japan's universal medical insurance scheme.

Last Updated on Sunday, 25 December 2011 05:07
News 28/11: Investor-state disputes and the 'other TPP'. NZ and Canada to clash on agricultural tarrifs?

1. ANU's Kyla Tienhaara writes for the Canberra Times about Philip Morris Asia's notice of claim against the Australia federal government under Australia and Hong Kong's bilateral investment treaty, and the alleged lack of transparency involved in the investor-state tribunal process that may result. Philip Morris's claim concerns the government's Tobacco Plain Packaging ('TPP' - not to be confused with the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement) Bill, which would strictly proscribe the packaging and presentation of all tobacco products in Australia. Philip Morris's initial notice of claim can be found here. Similar investor-state dispute resolution provisions are expected to be included in the TPPA.

2. Canada's Globe And Mail reports on NZ Trade Minister Tim Groser's tough response to Stephen Harper's indications of wanting to join TPP talks. Groser insists that Canada will need to do away with its agricultural supply management scheme as a bottom line of any negotiations.

3. Free-trade opponent Ian Fletcher has produced a video for the Huffington Post on why he believes Obama's intention to move forward on TPP is a 'disaster'.

4. Xinhua reports that former Japanese Agriculture Minister Masahiko Yamada may seek an opposing candidate to run against the pro-TPP Prime Minister, Yoshihiko Noda, in election next year - unless he halts Japan's attempts to participate in negotiations.

Last Updated on Monday, 28 November 2011 22:53
News 23/11: NZ Trade Minister tries to quell unease. Divergences in US HIV/AIDS Policy. Jane Kelsey's full report on APEC and TPP.

1. Computerworld NZ has a feature on what TPP might mean for NZ's current IP laws, where Trade Minister Tim Groser is adamant that the negotiations on IP have produced a "balanced deal". However, policy group InternetNZ believe documents released at APEC offer insufficient light to know if this is so.

2. Similarly, Groser has told the Dominion Post that "the fundamentals" of NZ's Pharmac public drug-buying agency "are not up for negotiations" as part of TPP, and indicated it would be six months before negotiators knew whether Canada, Japan, and Mexico would join talks.

2. Peru's Medicinas Para Todos have produced a video about the risks posed to easy medicine access under TPP, in association with Accion Internacional Para Salud and REDGe.

3. Bloomberg reports on possible threats to Secretary of State Hilary Clinton's US-led global effort against HIV and AIDS from the TPP, with Public Citizen's Peter Maybarduk warning that it could keep prices for treatment prohibitively high.

4. The Jakarta Post reports that ASEAN is contemplating consolidating free-trade agreements between its regional trading partners as a counter-reaction to the ambitious TPP framework.

5. New Zealand Herald economics editor Brian Fallow writes about the challenges involved in admitting Japan to the TPP at this stage and what this may mean for NZ and the US in terms of agriculture.

6. The Sydney Morning Herald has published an opinion piece by Dr Russell Marks of La Trobe University, who argues that the TPP is built on discredited economics.

7. Professor Jane Kelsey has produced a composite report about the implications of the APEC leaders' meeting in Honolulu for TPPA, available on TPPDigest here.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 23 November 2011 23:42
News 16/11 - APEC Summit. Japan wavers on TPP. Canada and Mexico want in?

Welcome to the new-style TPP Digest. The archives of press releases, draft negotiation texts, and position statements are being updated all the time - the front page will provide a digest of media and new developments once a week.

1. The Globe And Mail reports on Canada's surprise announcement at APEC that it wants to join the TPP, and what this means for existing protections on its poultry and dairy.

2. The International Trade Union Confederation has published its lengthy statement to the APEC leaders this weekend past in Honolulu, including substantial recommendation on what they would like to see from a finished TPP.

3. Two weeks ahead of the New Zealand general election, unions, including the CTU and the Maritime Union, have re-affirmed their opposition to TPP unless it is in the country's best interests.

4. Joint Statements from TPP members which were made at APEC are now available as a subsection under "Positions By Country" on the left-hand menu. Press briefings during APEC from The White House and USTR are available on the US's country page.

5. The US's indications that Japan were willing to negotiate on TPP at once with all goods and services on the table has been refuted by PM Yoshihiko Noda, who is now embattled at home from strong opposition with his own party on joining the talks (Mainichi Daily News).

6. The Jakarta Post anticipates further tension on economic co-operation in the South Pacific at the East Asia Summit, with the possibility that China will attempt to counter the US's strong push for TPP to be the dominant FTA framework in the region.

7. Professor Jane Kelsey has written a series of eyewitness accounts of APEC for Scoop (1 2 3 4), and writes for the NZ Herald on the APEC meeting here.

8. Meanwhile, Deputy NZ PM Bill English and NZ Trade Minister Tim Groser have returned from APEC claiming that the joint statement was an ambitious document that "exceeded all expectations".

9. The Sydney Morning Herald runs a political editorial urging that Australia avoid entering into a trade arrangement designed primarily to alienate or "get" China.

10. Australia's ABC News speaks to the Asian Development Bank's Iwan Azis, who believes that acheiving the standard of TPP the US is seeking will be "very difficult" in practice.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 November 2011 03:19
Big Pharma Lobbying Intensifies As USTR signals IP proposal deadline

pharmaceuticals11 May 2011: The Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) has declared an intention to have all its proposals on IP protections by the commencement of the next round of TPP talks in Vietnam on June 20, spurring renewed lobbying by pharmaceutical companies to secure advantages for the industry in any US bid.

Inside US Trade reports that reports that US pharma companies are seeking a final US proposal that replicates the same 'high-standard' of the Korea-US Free Trade Agreement (KORUS) with additional protections for more recent pharmaceutical developments such as growing use of biologics (medicinal products created from biological and organic processes, rather than chemical ones).

Additionally, they are resisting any move by the US to base a proposal on the May 10, 2007 agreement. That agreement varied the original IP conditions in the Colombia, Panama and Peru US trade agreements in order to gain bipartisan support for all three to pass through Congress. The changes were designed to help ensure access to affordable medicines in developing countries. A leaked lobbying document from the Pharmaceutical Researchers and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) indicates the May 10 agreement 'openly discriminates against the innovative pharmaceutical industry and would hinder (the) ability to compete fairly by lowering IP standards in export markets).

Lobbyists have also been outspoken about the current state of play in prospective TPP export markets, including New Zealand, which has a centralĀ  state-run drug-purchasing agency (Pharmac). Pharmac is described as having a single-minded focus on 'driving down costs' that 'comes at the expense of the respect for intellectual property, transparency to the public and patient access tro better health outcomes' in the same document.

While no full details on what the US's June proposal will look like are presently available, senior USTR officials have indicated they would be open to moving away from the May 10 proposals. However, leading public health and advocacy groups are expected to use the May 10 agreement as the basis for their desired TPP proposal.

Last Updated on Monday, 02 May 2011 09:08
5th Round of Talks Begin In Santiago, Chile

chile_flag16 FEBRUARY 2011: The fifth round of TPP talks began in Santiago this week, with US pushes for more aggressive IP reform in the text expected to be a major source of debate and commentator discussion.

New Zealand, along with one another country, is understood to have submitted a draft text on IP, described as 'relatively progressive' compared to the IP provisions contained in most modern US FTAs.

As covered previously on TPPDigest, NZ negotiatiors have expressed concerns at the US's more aggressive demands on IP in the talks, which were understood to expand on IP provisions in the US-Australia FTA and make up for ground conceded in the current version of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). The US reportedly submitted its own draft text to negotiators at the same time as NZ.

As with the Auckland talks last December, public statements on the progress of the talks are expected to limited to brief press conferences with stakeholders and the media.

However, delegates will be presented with signed open letters and petitions from civil society groups in Australia, Malaysia, Chile, NZ and the US asking that negotiations be made public and transparent. Negotiators will also be presented with a paper authored by Professor Jane Kelsey and Third World Network's Sanya Reid Smith, linking the agreement to continued international financial instability and offering a mock draft text.

Professor Kelsey says the current negotiations fail to recognise that the 2008 global financial crisis was the product of excessive liberalisation and deregulation, and that rather than rethinking an unsuccessful model, the TPPA negotiations appear to be bolting the door closed on the options for governments to re-regulate the financial sector and impose controls on speculative capital flows in ways that meet the needs of their peopleā€.

The mock text is intended to approximate the actual text, still under negotiations conducted in secret. It is based on existing FTAs between the US and Singapore, Australia, Chile and Peru.

The authors recommend that financial services, financial investment and movement of currency are all excluded from the TPPA. Failing this, the agreement must provide allowances for national governments to continue to regulate the financial sector and financial transactions so as to prevent another crisis in the future.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 February 2011 07:51
Talks show agriculture will stay a TPP obstacle for Japan

tokyo0113 FEBRUARY 2011: Four-day talks between Australia and Japan on bilateral trade suggest that popular Japanese oppositon to agricultural reforms will continue to stand in the way of Tokyo negotiating in the TPP.

The talks, which just ended and were the first on trade between the two countries since April last year, have been described by Australian negotiators as 'useful discussions', but it does not appear any breakthrough was reached over Japan's continued subsidies to its wheat and rice farmers.

A full piece on the talks from AFP follows below.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 15 February 2011 09:34
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