Nobel laureate economist Joseph Stiglitz has joined 1 million people in voicing opposition to the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal, as a new poll shows that over 61% of the public in key countries reject the secretive nature of the negotiations.
Trade ministers and corporate lobbyists start meetings today in Singapore for the final round of ministerial talks for the TPP. If an agreement is reached on Tuesday, it could hand sweeping new powers to big business at the expense of national public interest laws.
Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel laureate economist, said in the open letter:
"The agreement presents grave risks on all sorts of topics … The TPP proposes to freeze into a binding trade agreement many of the worst features of the worst laws in the TPP countries, making needed reforms extremely difficult if not impossible."
Meanwhile, a new IPSOS poll in four negotiating countries -- the US, Australia, Chile and New Zealand -- shows that at least 61% of the public oppose the secrecy of the deal. The poll was commissioned by Avaaz, the global campaigning group whose campaign calling for greater transparency and content reform of the TPP has gathered over 1 million signatures.
Jamie Choi, Campaign Director at Avaaz, said:
"This deal would hand mega corporations the keys to our democracies on a silver platter. Yet most people have never heard of TPP, and elected lawmakers aren't even allowed to look at the texts. This poll sends a clear message: the people want proper transparency and oversight in this process, not a shady deal cooked up in secret meetings by lobbyists."
The IPSOS poll found that:
- Threat to national sovereignty. 56% of Americans, 47% of Australians, 56% of New Zealanders, and 52% of Chileans oppose a proposal that would allow corporations to sue governments if national regulations threaten their profits
- Access to Medicines. 62% of Americans, 63% of Australians, 70% of New Zealanders, and of 75% Chileans oppose a proposal that would limit access to generic medicines
- Transparency. 61% of Americans, 64% of Australians, 71% of New Zealanders, and 70% of Chileans find it unacceptable that the TPP is not made available to the public until negotiations are finished
- Rights of Citizens. 51% of Americans, 49% of Australians, 51% of New Zealanders, and 67% of Chileans believe the TPP infringes on the rights of citizens for corporate profits.
The TPP, which is being negotiated behind closed doors by trade bureaucrats and nearly 600 corporate lobbyists, has provoked political uproar because its text has been kept secret from lawmakers in the countries it covers. If the deal is finalised, corporations will take on new powers to sue governments over regulations which threaten their future profits. Laws designed to protect the public, including access to cheap medicines, bans on logos on cigarette packaging, clear labeling of GM products, and internet privacy could be under threat.
Today lawmakers from all four countries, as well as a former TPP negotiator, have also raised fresh concerns over the TPP.
Rodrigo Contreras, the former chief TPP negotiator for Chile, said:
"These trade talks are an opportunity for regional development and integration, and it would be a shame to miss this chance. But right now the deal seeks to regulate the information on the Internet, increase protections for patented medicines at the expense of patients, limit access to culture with more stringent copyright protection, and limit controls on financial transactions in times of crisis. All of this goes way further than any bilateral or plurilateral trade should, and is not in the interests of people in the countries the TPP covers."
US president Barack Obama has repeatedly indicated that he wants to finalize the TPP negotiations by the end of the year.
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