Press Release – Patricia Ranald

Leaked documents expose deep divisions, Australian positions and US pressure to complete TPP deal in SingaporeLeaked documents expose deep divisions, Australian positions and US pressure to complete TPP deal in Singapore

“Two internal documents from a country in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement negotiations have been leaked to Huffington Post<http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/08/tpp-trade-agreement_n_4409211.html> and published this morning.

The documents are a chart<http://big.assets.huffingtonpost.com/1296_001.pdf> outlining the positions of each of the twelve countries on many issues being discussed in Singapore, and an account<http://big.assets.huffingtonpost.com/1294_001.pdf> of the state of negotiations at the end of the Salt Lake City round late last month.

These raise doubts about the target of finishing the negotiations this year, and show deep ongoing divisions and resentment at US pressure,” Dr Patricia Ranald, Convenor of the Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network said today.

“On the controversial US proposals for longer patents which would result in higher prices for medicines, and stronger copyright, the commentary says that “countries must be prepared for attempts deployed by the US to force closure of different areas of the intellectual property chapter during the Singapore negotiations.”

The commentary also says that Australia has worked with Japan and the US on a revised version of the controversial annex which deals with government regulation of medicine prices, including Australia’s Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, while most other countries are opposing it. This seems to indicate possible concessions on the PBS by Australia, despite government assurances to the contrary. We cannot test these assurances until the text is released to the public,” said Dr Ranald.

“Trade Minister Robb said last week that Australia was prepared to agree to give investors the right to sue governments over Australian laws which they claimed harm their investment, on the condition that there were exceptions for health and environmental laws and that the US would give increased market access in return. The commentary reveals the so-called exceptions may only be part of the preamble to the investment chapter and not legally enforceable.

“The chart itself shows that while Australia has rejected most of the US patent proposals it appears to have agreed to broader criteria for granting of patents, which could include patenting of living organisms. It is also worrying that the Abbott government appears to have agreed with the US refusal to support the exclusions from the World Intellectual Property Organisation, which assist developing countries to get access to cheaper generic medicines. Most other countries have agreed to support these exclusions,” said Dr Ranald.

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