Last week Dr Deb Gleeson updated us on her plans to attend the final meeting of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations in order to continue raising concerns about the impact of the agreement on health in Australia and other nations. Yesterday she tweeted the following:
“URGENT NEWS FROM SINGAPORE: Australia has caved in to US pressure on IP and medicines.”
This is supported by a media release from the Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network (AFTINET) citing the Washington Trade Daily in stating that Australia has agreed to “drop its objections to US proposals on medicines”. A leaked memo (available through Wikileaks) states that in regards to IP issues the Australian position is “unclear”.
Emma Woollacott at Forbes has provided links to the leaked spreadsheet and memo on Wikileaks and states ” Australia in particular is standing firm, objecting to the US’ proposals for copyright protection, parallel importation proposals and criminalization of copyright infringement. It’s also opposed to a measure supported by all the other nations involved to limit the liability of ISPs for copyright infringement by their users.”. The Forbes article discusses the increasing disquiet about the TPP both within the US and globally.
Australian media coverage has also raised concerns. Peter Martin at The Age states that leaked documents suggest that Australia “may allow US companies to sue Australian governments” while Ross Gittins in the Sydney Morning Herald today suggests that there is much to be concerned about in the TPP negotiations. The Guardian quotes Andrew Robb as saying “The Australian government has said it’s prepared to consider on a case by case basis the possible support for an ISDS – investor state dispute settlement procedure,”
The PHAA has again raised its voice issuing a media release from forty four Australian academics. It states:
“The group is deeply concerned that provisions proposed for the TPPA include:
• Intellectual property provisions that would expand patent monopolies, delay the availability of generic medicines and increase the cost of medicines for taxpayers and the public;
• Procedural changes to our Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme that would prevent the use of effective pricing mechanisms, create new avenues of appeal and new opportunities for pharmaceutical industry influence over decision making;
• An investor-state dispute settlement clause that will give new rights to foreign corporations (such as tobacco companies) to sue our government in international tribunals over its public health and environmental policies and laws;
• Rules for labelling wine and spirits that could prevent Australia from mandating health warnings on the principal front or back label on an alcohol container; and
• Provisions for proprietary formulas that may limit government’s future options for food labelling.”
In particular the group is calling on the Australian Government to:
“• Reject the extreme proposals of the US for intellectual property and support the efforts of other countries to negotiate provisions that will protect access to medicines;
• Continue to reject provisions that would affect the ability of the PBS to effectively regulate medicine prices, ensure affordable access and obtain value for money;
• Continue to insist on an exemption to the investor-state dispute mechanism; and
• Retain domestic flexibility in all areas of the agreement to protect and promote public health and the environment. ”
Meanwhile, there has been a statement of the Ministers and Heads of Delegation released saying that “substantial progress” has been made towards the agreement and that following further negotiations they aim to meet again next month.
Watch this space.
Read more in Peter Martin’s story here.