Media Release: TPP Watch. Wednesday, 19 January 2011
TPPWatch, a coalition of New Zealand unions, groups and individuals who oppose the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership free trade agreement has launched a “release the text” sign-on letter to Prime Minister John Key, via its webpage TPPWatch.org.
The trade talks are currently taking place in secret, despite many commentators across the political spectrum condemning the secrecy surrounding to the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (TPPA) negotiations in Auckland last month.
“We are calling on the government to tell Kiwis what it is proposing to do in our name in these negotiations, and permit an open public debate on the proposed deal,” said TPPWatch spokesperson Andrew Campbell, the campaigns director for the finance workers union Finsec.
“This trade agreement could increase the cost of pharmaceuticals, limit government controls over tobacco sales and give new rights to foreign owners over land and strategic assets. We deserve to know what is going on,” said Campbell.
“The idea that binding and enforceable restrictions on future governments can be signed, sealed and delivered behind our backs is what happens in a dictatorship, not a democracy. If the government is so confident the deal is a good one then it should let us know what it is negotiating” said Campbell.
Campaigns are being launched across the TPPA countries to cast daylight on this deal, starting with release of the draft texts and country papers.
The sign on letter echoes broader demands from the peak union bodies in almost all the TPPA countries that all working texts are published after each round of negotiations, along with government position papers, on a neutral electronic forum that allows for a frank exchange of information and views.
“Three decades of free markets and free trade deals show that while big business tends to be the winner, workers and poor communities, who have no say in the process, pay the price. These secret deals have to stop.”
“We call on the government to secure agreement to basic rules for transparency during the next TPPA talks in Chile in mid-February,” said Campbell.