Press Release – AFTINET

TPP Fast Track Bill back to US Senate: uncertain outcome means TPP negotiations still on hold

TPP Fast Track Bill back to US Senate: uncertain outcome means TPP negotiations still on hold

“After various procedural manoeuvres, part of the Fast Track bill package was narrowly passed overnight in the US House of Representatives, and has now gone back to the Senate. But the part of the package which supports workers who lose their jobs through trade agreements has been dropped from the Bill, which makes it less likely to succeed in the Senate,” 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, and allows only a yes or no vote. Massive community opposition has prevented the full FastTrack Bill from securing a majority vote in both houses. Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged President Obama to listen to the Democrat critics of Fast Track this week. This latest move back to the Senate with a changed bill shows the desperation of Fast Track supporters,” said Dr Ranald.

“The Senate process requires a 60 vote majority out of 100 for a procedural vote to enable the new Fast Track bill to be debated by the Senate next week. This is less likely without the accompanying workers’ support legislation,” said 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 still on hold, and the TPP Trade Ministers’ Meeting tentatively set for late June has been postponed yet again,” 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 regulation and environmental regulation 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.

“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.
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