In the lead-up to the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) negotiations in Singapore February 22-25, Oxfam New Zealand is calling on the New Zealand Trade Minister, Tim Groser to end the secrecy and make negotiating drafts publicly available. The scope of the TPPA is wide ranging and will be significant for generations to come, not just in New Zealand but particularly for poor and marginalised people in the developing world.
Oxfam’s Executive Director, Barry Coates said, “The lack of transparency around these negotiations is out of step even with practices in the World Trade Organisation and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. Citizens and their elected representatives have the right to know what is being decided before it’s too late to do anything about it.”
Behind-closed-doors trade deals
Oxfam has written to Trade Minister Groser to urge him to make the draft negotiating documents public. At present the text is closely held within a small group of negotiators and their corporate advisers. Oxfam’s letter refers to the Open Letter signed by political leaders and senior MPs from seven countries negotiating the TPPA. Even senior political representatives do not know what is in the text. The letter, available on the website www.tppmpsfortransparency.org, states:
“We, the undersigned legislators from countries involved in the negotiation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, call on the Parties to the negotiation to publish the draft text of the Agreement before any final agreement is signed with sufficient time to enable effective legislative scrutiny and public debate.“
If agreed, the TPPA would have long term implications for future rules on trade, investment, intellectual property and copyright, and regulation of international corporations, as well as having implications for a wide range of domestic policies.
“These issues are too important for a few Trade Ministers to decide behind closed doors. In just one of many examples, while New Zealanders may be forced to pay more for medicines, the consequences could be severe for people in extreme poverty in the developing world, who may see their ability to afford life-saving drugs slip away altogether,” Coates said.
Denial of transparency
The TPPA would establish a new framework for international trade and investment agreements, one that focuses on the rights of foreign investors, while undermining the responsibilities of governments to regulate in the public interest. It would be a new precedent for a multilateral agreement to give foreign companies the right to challenge governments in an international tribunal and demand compensation for lost profits. The TPPA would lay the foundation for other agreements that would vitally affect the interests of people living in poverty around the world.
“Governments need to have the powers to promote poverty reduction, tackle rising inequality, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect the environment. But these are likely to be eroded in the TPPA.
“All New Zealanders will be affected, vulnerable communities in the Pacific and across the developing world will be affected, and future generations will be affected. Our elected representatives should be able to know what New Zealand is proposing in these negotiations and debate our positions and our role,” Coates said.
For more information on the TPPA visit: