Hemispheric Sign-on Statement: TPP FAVORS CORPORATE RIGHTS OVER CITIZENS’ RIGHTS

Statement of Social Organizations of the Americas in opposition to the TPP

The negotiation of the treaty called the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), which began more than three years ago between the U.S., Peru, Chile, Singapore, Brunei, Australia, New Zealand, Vietnam and Malaysia, and recently joined by Canada and Mexico, has been negotiated in secrecy, and seeks to deepen the model of deregulation of vulnerable sectors in favor of corporate interests promoted in Free Trade Agreements (FTAs). This negotiation seeks to give continuation to the failed Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), which was rejected by various social movements and organizations of the continent. Thus, the TPP is seeking to circumvent the protest of the people of the Americas who for many years fought and resisted the logic of free trade which is now being resurrected in these secret negotiations. The TPP negotiation model is blatantly undemocratic because it transcends the multilateral trade agenda, including few countries, and excluding parliaments from the process. The pretense to promote by these means a reform of global trade rules goes against multilateralism and is a grave and serious erosion of democratic rules.

Therefore, the undersigned civil society organizations express our serious concern about the progress of these negotiations, and publicly declare our rejection of a trade agreement that:

1. Significantly increases the price of and affects access to medicines: the intellectual property proposal presented by the United States promotes the expansion of the use and scope of transnational pharmaceutical monopolies which severely affects access to medicines, treatments, and therapeutic methods and limits the right of health for people. These negotiations seek to expand the harmful rights already granted by FTAs which affect drug price competition and weakens the ability of states to establish public health safeguards against commercial interests.

2. Threatens free access to information, the use of the internet, and cultural goods: on the negotiating table is the U.S. proposal on intellectual property that seeks to impose copyright rules similar to the much-criticized SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) which was recently rejected in that country because it would impose serious threats to the right to information, free access to the internet, and other cultural goods (books, software, music, etc.).

3. Promotes a disputed model of investment protection: the TPP promotes a model of foreign investment protection that grants greater rights to foreign investors over national governments (for example the National Treatment and Most Favored Nation clauses, prohibitions on government performance requirements, and bans on capital controls). To enforce these rights, including the criticized investor-state mechanism, private actors (individuals or corporations) are given the right to sue national governments in private and non-transparent international tribunals, bypassing domestic court systems. This mechanism severely undermines the regulatory capacity of states to promote social and environmental safeguards, which corporations have already shown unwilling to protect.

4. Deepens deregulation of the financial services industry: this agreement promotes the expansion of the deregulation of the services’ sector. There is a particular risk of an increased deregulation of the financial sector, which would limit the ability of countries to apply measures deemed necessary to face the brunt of the severe international financial crisis.

5. Promotes the privatization of public services: under the rules of the agreement, public services are subject to the general rules of trade, and therefore their utility can be questioned in favor of private services. While recognizing the role of the state to ensure access to basic services such as health and education, it seeks to include mechanisms that limit the role of the state when promoting de-privatization, even if privatization leads to limiting citizens' access to essential services.

6. Weakens environmental institutions and facilitates ownership of natural resources: in the context of intense international competition for access to natural resources, this agreement favors interests that promote the exploitation and export of natural resources, undermining the development of countries’ environmental institutions. The TPP promotes mechanisms that allow transnationals to challenge almost any environmental regulation or court decision they deem a "regulatory taking" because it affects their profit expectations.

7. Discourages decent work: this trade agreement is another milestone for international trade policy, which since the beginning of Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) has promoted a trade model that encourages a race to the bottom for the rights of workers, wages, pensions and working conditions. Despite the inclusion of labor chapters and references to international labor rights conventions, this model has failed to promote sufficient conditions so that international trade is based on the respect of labor rights and constitutes a real contribution to decent work, and genuine collective hiring and bargaining freedom internationally.

8. Threatens national food production and food security: the negotiation of agricultural subsidies, as well as the promotion of production for export monoculture that leads to land concentration, constitutes a threat to the traditional production of foods by medium and small farmers, affecting the production and culture of local communities and farmers.

9. Jeopardizes the rights and sovereignty of indigenous peoples: the mechanisms of trade and investment promotion prioritizes the protection of the rights of corporations over citizens, jeopardizing the security of the rights of indigenous populations to consultation and prior and informed consent as guaranteed by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

10. Affects regional integration processes: this model of negotiation undermines progress in regional integration processes that have increased Latin American sovereignty (notably in UNASUR and CELAC), and between the countries of the Association of South East Asia (ASEAN).

These highly sensitive issues are being negotiated behind the backs of the citizens under the framework of the TPP. Therefore, the undersigned organizations demand:

• The immediate halt of the TPP negotiations until all the terms of the negotiations are made public and a process of dialogue is opened with effective and transparent information mechanisms, involving society as a whole in the process, especially sectors potentially affected by the TPP, and not only exporters and investors.

• The promotion of a trading regime which observes the limits and violations that have been shown by FTAs already in force. We call on governments, our governments, to not accept new obligations that may affect our rights as citizens.

• We call for the promotion of trade with justice that includes the rights of citizens in its agenda, and is subjected to the standards of the International Covenants on Human Rights, in particular the standards of decent work and the rights of workers and indigenous peoples recognized by the ILO. We call for the promotion of the exchange of goods, especially manufactured, that includes decent working conditions and does not affect the environment, and takes into account the asymmetries of the various economies participating in trade agreements.

The Americas, February 2013

We mobilize for peoples’ integration!
We mobilize in opposition to the TPP!

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