A final version of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade deal, which will reduce tariffs and other trade barriers between 11 countries in Asia and Latin America that amount to 13% of global GDP, was released on February 21.
The deal, the details of which remained secret until now, has long been slammed by critics as a corporate power grab to the detriment of working people, farmers, the environment and public health systems in the signatory nations.
Eleven states including Chile, Peru, Mexico, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore and Vietnam are getting closer to signing the deal — even after the United States withdrew from the agreement last year. The deal is set to be signed in Chile on March 8.
Analysts thought the US withdrawal would leave the deal without clout. However, it allowed the remaining countries to remove some rules included in a previous version of the TPP due to Washington’s insistence.
These include the rules raising protections on intellectual property protections on medicines, which some governments and activists had worried would increase the cost of medicine and overall access to healthcare.
The Canadian and Australian governments have welcomed the new version of the deal. However, the Australian Council of Trade Unions slammed the deal on February 21, pointing out it would be easier for companies to exploit “temporary workers” brought from overseas.
The ACTU noted: “The agreement also allows foreign companies to sue Australian governments for making decisions such as the plain packaging laws that have seen smoking rates plummet.”
ACTU assistant secretary Scott Connolly said: “This is a bad deal for working people and a win for corporate power. It will cut the pay and limit the opportunities of working Australians in a huge range of occupations.
“The Malcolm Turnbull government must stop trading away our jobs, wages and opportunities for corporate profits.”
New Zealand economist and Green Party member Barry Coates said of the deal: “We should not allow foreign corporations to bypass our courts and sue our government in an international tribunal.”
Opposition to the trade deal has also been voiced in Chile. The People’s Democratic Movement party said via Twitter the TPP will be disastrous for small and medium-sized businesses and criticised the provision that allows multinational corporations to sue the state in international courts.
They have called for a demonstration in Chile against the TPP for March 7, the day before the deal is to be signed.
[Abridged from TeleSUR English.]