The Pirate Party welcomes the long-anticipated release of the text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (‘TPP’), available from the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade website.[1] However, the Pirate Party remains firmly opposed to the agreement itself and calls on the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties to recommend it not be ratified.

“After years of secret negotiations the text has been revealed, and it should be deeply concerning to all Australians,” said Simon Frew, President of the Pirate Party. “Most concerning of all are the investor-state dispute settlement (‘ISDS’) provisions which create a two-tiered legal system in which foreign-owned businesses gain special rights to sue the Australian government if policies or regulations hurt their interests. These cases are run through international tribunals which have none of the accountabilities and appeal mechanisms which operate in domestic courts.”[2]
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Late last night word trickled out that the massive Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) was finalised. This trade agreement represents many of the darkest wishes of multi-national corporations intent on using regulatory capture in the United States to drive the global trade agenda. The text of the agreement is still secret and will not be released for perhaps another month[1].

"Civil society has been kept at arms length from the negotiations, with access to the draft texts only being granted to major corporations. The fact that the text is not immediately available gives us some insight into just how bad this agreement could be," said Simon Frew, President of the Pirate Party. "We demand that the text be immediately published so the Australian people can see what has been negotiated on our behalf and judge whether this is something that will benefit all of us or just a wealthy few."

Much of what is known about the TPP has been exposed through leaks, painting a bleak picture for the future of signatory countries. The leaks indicate draconian intellectual property provisions, investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) tribunals and poor environmental and worker protections. 

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The Pirate Party renews its calls for greater transparency and participation in treaty negotiation, following the latest leaked draft of the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) that shows the agreement is likely to impose anti-privacy and anti-freedom of speech obligations upon Australia[1]. These provisions would benefit large multinational corporations and governments at the cost of the rights of the citizens, and are being negotiated behind closed doors.

“Democracy is under threat, not from terrorism or rising global tensions, but from secretly negotiated treaties like the Trade in Services Agreement and the Trans-Pacific Partnership,” said Simon Frew, Deputy President of the Pirate Party. “Provisions too severe to be proposed domestically for fear of being summarily booted from office are being included in treaty negotiations to be swallowed as a bitter pill along with what might otherwise be sensible proposals. TISA is the latest in a long line of secret treaties that have adopted this strategy, and must be opposed as vigorously as the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement before it.”

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The Pirate Party wishes to draw attention to the TPP ministerial meeting to occur tomorrow, 25 October 2014, and continues to reiterate the demand that the draconian text be made public.

Tomorrow, 25 October 2014, Sydney will host a meeting of trade ministers from countries currently negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP). The aim of the meeting is to conclude the “basic elements of the agreement before the end of the year,” despite the last four years of negotiations being fraught with fundamental disagreements. Of enormous public concern is the lack of transparency surrounding what is intended to be a comprehensive agreement: at this point in time, no drafts have been officially made available for public comment or consideration.

“Recent leaks[1] show the negotiators have learned nothing from the public outcry over previous leaks. The negotiators are pushing ahead with paradigm-shifting intellectual property provisions in the interests of entrenched American corporations, going above the sovereign parliaments of their own nations. Once the document is signed, it is very unlikely to be changed, and very likely to be waved through Parliament with limited oversight. This is legislation through the backdoor; corporate capture of democracy,” commented Brendan Molloy, Pirate Party President.

“It is beyond time that the text was made public. We have seen the content of it through leaks, and what we have seen would have a significantly negative impact on everything from freedom of expression, access to knowledge and access to medicine[2], all in the interests of American corporations. This agreement is not in the national interest.”

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A recent leak of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) draft intellectual property chapter shows that negotiators remain divided over key issues[1]. The leak reveals that in May 2014 there was limited agreement on the intellectual property provisions, despite the negotiations being ongoing since at least 2008. The TPP is notorious for the secrecy of its negotiations and the exclusion of the public despite it being widely known that some corporate lobbyists have had access to draft texts and a strong hand in influencing negotiating positions.

Of concern are draft provisions that would substantially increase the cost of medical treatment, both domestically and in other participating countries, which demonstrates the strong lobbyist influence on the negotiations. Other provisions may expand Internet service provider surveillance of subscribers, expand what can be patented, and seriously undermine competition by strengthening monopoly rights.

“It is time for the game of secrecy to end. The negotiations seem to be going around in circles and be contrary to the stated positions of the negotiating nations. They fly in the face of expert opinions, and consultations thus far have been little more than shams,” said Brendan Molloy, Pirate Party President.

“Negotiating in this fundamentally undemocratic way will see the involved nations saddled with obligations designed by lobbyists for the benefit of lobbyists, and by the time we find out exactly what those obligations are it’ll already be signed and imposed upon us,” Mr Molloy continued.

Of enormous concern is the removal of an article that would ensure Article 31 of the TRIPS Agreement remained fully effective. Article 31 regards compulsory licences of patents to ensure national emergencies in developing countries can be effectively managed. Limiting the effect of Article 31 is likely to have extremely negative effects on managing local and global epidemics[2].