Press Release – AFTINET

Community opposition defeats TPP Fast Track Bill in US House of Representatives: negotiations on hold againCommunity opposition defeats TPP Fast Track Bill in US House of Representatives: negotiations on hold again

“Despite procedural manoeuvres, the Trans-Pacific Partnership Fast Track Bill was defeated in the US House of Representatives overnight. This was a victory for the US community campaign against the secrecy of the TPP process and provisions of the TPP which threaten jobs, medicine prices, food safety and Internet freedom and would expose health and environmental protections to challenges from foreign investors, and lack meaningful and enforceable labour rights and environmental protections,” Dr Patricia Ranald Coordinator of the Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network (AFTINET) said today.

“Fast Track legislation is required for the U.S. Congress to give up its constitutional right to fully debate and amend trade agreements, allows only a yes or no vote. The bill was defeated despite a massive corporate campaign and support from both Democrat and Republican leaders, including an unusual visit to Congress by the President.”

“The Bill was split into two parts, both of which had to pass. The first vote on Trade Adjustment Assistance was opposed by Democrats who argued it was too weak, and by Republicans who oppose it outright, and was defeated by 302 to 126 votes. This defeated the whole bill. Republicans then demanded a face-saving symbolic vote on the second part of the bill which narrowly passed by 219 to 211 votes, but this has no meaning because the first part of the bill failed,” explained Dr Ranald.

“Since other TPP governments have refused to finalise the negotiations without Fast Track, this means TPP negotiations between Australia the U.S, Japan and nine other countries are again on hold, and the TPP Trade Ministers’ Meeting may not take place by the end of June,” said Dr Ranald.

“Recent leaked TPP documents have magnified the growing opposition to the TPP in Australia and other TPP countries because they reveal the corporate agenda for greater monopoly rights for pharmaceutical, media and other international corporations. The TPP threatens affordable medicine prices, internet regulationand food safety and gives foreign investors the right to sue governments over changes in domestic legislation, like tobacco plain packaging legislation and even decisions of our Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. There is now a cross-party group of Australian MPs critical of the TPP,” said Dr Ranald.

“It is time to ask why our government is proceeding with these negotiations into their sixth year if the US government cannot get support for them from its own Congress. If the negotiations do proceed, Australian government should oppose all the harmful proposals in the TPP and agree to release the text of the TPP before it is signed by Cabinet so that Australians can judge for themselves whether it is in the public interest,” said Dr Ranald.

ENDS

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