The TPP is being negotiated behind closed doors by the United States, Japan, Mexico, Canada, Australia, Malaysia, Chile, Singapore, Peru, Vietnam, New Zealand and Brunei.
WikiLeaks has 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% 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 October 19, which is followed by what is meant to be a decisive ministerial meeting in Sydney on October 25-27.
Despite the wide-ranging effects on the global population, the TPP is 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. This generates a powerful lobby to effect changes on behalf of these groups and reducing the force of developing country members, 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 May 16, and includes negotiator's notes and all country positions from that period in bracketed text.
Although there have been a couple of extra rounds of talks since this text, little has changed in them. It is clear negotiations are stalling and the issues raised in this document will be on the table in the Australia meetings
The last time the public got access to the TPP IP chapter draft text was in November last year when WikiLeaks published the bracketed text from August 30. 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. They will also weaken needed requirements to patent genes in plants, which will impact small farmers and boost the dominance of large agricultural corporations such as Monsanto.
Nevertheless, some areas that were highlighted after WikiLeaks' last IP chapter release have involved 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 growing 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 TPP IP text also includes previously unseen addendums, including a new proposal for different treatment for developing countries, with varying transition periods for the text to take force.
While this can be viewed as a bid 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 US 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.
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.”