Press Release — Updated Secret Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) — IP Chapter (second publication)

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WikiLeaks_TPP_IP2_cartoonThurs­day 16 Octo­ber 2014, Wik­iLeaks released a sec­ond updat­ed ver­sion of the Trans-Pacif­ic Part­ner­ship (TPP) Intel­lec­tu­al Prop­er­ty Rights Chap­ter. The TPP is the world’s largest eco­nom­ic trade agree­ment that will, if it comes into force, encom­pass more than 40 per cent of the world’s GDP. The IP Chap­ter cov­ers top­ics from phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, patent reg­is­tra­tions and copy­right issues to dig­i­tal rights. Experts say it will affect free­dom of infor­ma­tion, civ­il lib­er­ties and access to med­i­cines glob­al­ly. The Wik­iLeaks release comes ahead of a Chief Nego­tia­tors’ meet­ing in Can­ber­ra on 19 Octo­ber 2014, which is fol­lowed by what is meant to be a deci­sive Min­is­te­r­i­al meet­ing in Syd­ney on 25–27 October.

Despite the wide-rang­ing effects on the glob­al pop­u­la­tion, the TPP is cur­rent­ly being nego­ti­at­ed in total secre­cy by 12 coun­tries. Few peo­ple, even with­in the nego­ti­at­ing coun­tries’ gov­ern­ments, have access to the full text of the draft agree­ment and the pub­lic, who it will affect most, none at all. Large cor­po­ra­tions, how­ev­er, are able to see por­tions of the text, gen­er­at­ing a pow­er­ful lob­by to effect changes on behalf of these groups and bring­ing devel­op­ing coun­try mem­bers reduced force, while the pub­lic at large gets no say. Julian Assange, Wik­iLeaks’ Edi­tor-in-Chief, said:

The selective secrecy surrounding the TPP negotiations, which has let in a few cashed-up megacorps but excluded everyone else, reveals a telling fear of public scrutiny. By publishing this text we allow the public to engage in issues that will have such a fundamental impact on their lives.

The 77-page, 30,000-word doc­u­ment is a work­ing doc­u­ment from the nego­ti­a­tions in Ho Chi Minh City, Viet­nam, dat­ed 16 May 2014, and includes nego­tia­tor’s notes and all coun­try posi­tions from that peri­od in brack­et­ed text. Although there have been a cou­ple of addi­tion­al rounds of talks since this text, lit­tle has changed in them and it is clear that the nego­ti­a­tions are stalling and that the issues raised in this doc­u­ment will be very much on the table in Aus­tralia this month.

The last time the pub­lic got access to the TPP IP Chap­ter draft text was in Novem­ber 2013 when Wik­iLeaks pub­lished the 30 August 2013 brack­et­ed text. Since that point, some con­tro­ver­sial and dam­ag­ing areas have had lit­tle change; issues sur­round­ing dig­i­tal rights have moved lit­tle. How­ev­er, there are sig­nif­i­cant indus­try-favour­ing addi­tions with­in the areas of phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals and patents. These addi­tions are like­ly to affect access to impor­tant med­i­cines such as can­cer drugs and will also weak­en the require­ments need­ed to patent genes in plants, which will impact small farm­ers and boost the dom­i­nance of large agri­cul­tur­al cor­po­ra­tions like Monsanto.

Nev­er­the­less, some areas that were high­light­ed after Wik­iLeaks’ last IP Chap­ter release have seen alter­ations that reflect the con­tro­ver­sy; sur­gi­cal method patents have been removed from the text. Doc­tors’ groups said this was vital­ly impor­tant for allow­ing doc­tors to engage in med­ical pro­ce­dures with­out fear of a law­suit for pro­vid­ing the best care for their patients. Oppo­si­tion is increas­ing to remove the pro­vi­sion pro­posed by the US and Japan that would require grant­i­ng of patents for new drugs that are slight­ly altered from a pre­vi­ous patent­ed one (ever­green­ing), a tech­nique by the phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal indus­try to pro­long mar­ket monopoly.

The new Wik­iLeaks release of the May 2014 TPP IP text also has pre­vi­ous­ly unseen adden­dums, includ­ing a new pro­pos­al for dif­fer­ent treat­ment for devel­op­ing coun­tries, with vary­ing tran­si­tion peri­ods for the text to take force. Whilst this can be viewed as an attempt to ease the onus of this harsh treaty on these coun­tries, our diplo­mat­ic sources say it is a stalling tac­tic. The neg­a­tive pro­pos­als with­in the agree­ment would still have to come into force in those coun­tries, while the gov­ern­ments that brought them in would have changed.

Despite the Unit­ed States want­i­ng to push to a res­o­lu­tion with­in the TPP last year, this brack­et­ed text shows there is still huge oppo­si­tion and dis­agree­ment through­out the text. At this crit­i­cal moment the nego­ti­a­tions have now stalled, and devel­op­ing coun­tries are giv­ing greater resis­tance. Despite the huge lob­by­ing efforts, and many favourable pro­pos­als for big phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies, they are not get­ting entire­ly what they wish for either. Julian Assange said:

The lack of movement within the TPP IP Chapter shows that this only stands to harm people, and no one is satisfied. This clearly demonstrates that such an all-encompassing and divisive trade agreement is too damaging to be brought into force. The TPP should stop now.

Cur­rent TPP nego­ti­a­tion mem­ber states are the Unit­ed States, Japan, Mex­i­co, Cana­da, Aus­tralia, Malaysia, Chile, Sin­ga­pore, Peru, Viet­nam, New Zealand and Brunei.
Peo­ple to go to for comment:

Health­Gap
Pro­fes­sor Brook Bak­er, Senior Pol­i­cy Analyst
b.baker@neu.edu

Knowl­edge Ecol­o­gy International
James Love, Director
+1 202 361 3040
+1 202 332 2670
james.love@keionline.org

Medecins Sans Fron­tieres (MSF)
Judi Rius San­juan, US Man­ag­er, MSF Access Campaign
+1 917 331 9077

Pub­lic Citizen
Peter May­bar­duk, Direc­tor of Glob­al Access to Med­i­cines Program
+1 202 588 7755
pmaybarduk@citizen.org