Media Release: Professor Jane Kelsey
Friday, 10 December 2010
TPPA Negotiators Face Concerted International Campaign to Release the Draft Texts
As Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations draw to a close in Auckland, an alliance of civil society groups in participating countries have announced a “release the text” campaign ahead of the next round of talks in February 2011 in Chile.
The co-ordinated campaign aims to mobilise central and local government lawmakers, civil society organisations and ordinary citizens to demand an end to the shroud of secrecy around the negotiations.
“The negotiators themselves say this is not an ordinary free trade agreement. It would reach deep behind the border into the realm of domestic policy and regulation, super-imposing enforceable constraints over decisions for which our elected parliaments and local councils are currently responsible”, said Professor Jane Kelsey, New Zealand.
There are now draft texts on the table on financial services and investment, and possibly more. Negotiators have flatly refused to release them at any stage in the negotiations, claiming there is no precedent in a free trade negotiation.
‘It is nonsense to claim that releasing draft texts is unprecedented. All nine countries are Members of the WTO, which now routinely posts country position papers and draft texts in progress on its website.
The New Zealand government itself recognised in its paper on IP, leaked earlier this week, that “groups are acutely aware of what they see as ‘secret’ negotiations to strengthen IP rights under FTAs and other international instruments.” After repeated leaks of the draft texts, the parties to the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) negotiations eventually released them for public scrutiny.
“We are repeatedly told this is a 21st century agreement; yet the secrecy that surrounds it is redolent of the Star Chamber. We would never tolerate such a blatant rejection of transparency and accountability in our domestic legislation, so why here?’”
“If this TPPA really is so good for us, why are they scared to release the draft text and open it to scrutiny?”, asked Professor Kelsey.
“The challenge then is for Parliament to convene an inquiry before the process has reached the stage where irreversible commitments have been made where we can test out the arguments for and against a TPPA and New Zealanders, including MPs, can know what we are signing up to for the next century”.