Australia says ‘no’ to the TPP! AFSA joins action against Trans-Pacific Partnership

The Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance (AFSA) joins civil society organisations throughout South-East Asia in international action calling for democratic accountability and transparency in response to the proposed meeting of government ministers from the 12 countries engaged in the current round of negotiations on the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) in Guam May 26-28, 2015.

Together with social movements and civil society across the region, AFSA supports a shift away from competitive ‘free’ trade agreements, towards the development of fair, transparent and co-operative trading relations between peoples and countries, in which the benefit of all peoples, and the safeguarding of the environment, are paramount.

Fair and cooperative trade is fundamental to the achievement of food sovereignty, the right of peoples to nourishing and culturally appropriate food produced and distributed in ecologically sound and ethical ways and their right to democratically determine their own food and agriculture systems. AFSA has been campaigning for the incorporation of food sovereignty norms and principles into Australian food policy and legislation at all levels since 2010.

The TPP negotiations have been conducted entirely in secret and therefore violate basic democratic principles. Reliance on Wiki-leaked texts and rumour is no basis for a public debate, which is essential given the far-reaching constraints on national sovereignty that the TPP proposes, to the singular benefit of transnational corporations.

In Europe a trade agreement similar in scale and scope, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), has been released publicly for public scrutiny and oversight.

The resultant strong public debate reflects many of the concerns of critics of the TTP.

Consumer watchdog CHOICE is petitioning the Australian government to release the contents of the TPP.

Friends of the Earth (FoE) claim that “like other similar trade agreements the TPP could make it impossible to set higher standards on imported foods or labelling, because labelling regulation can be deemed a ‘barrier to trade’.”

The NGO describes the trade agreement as a “Trojan Horse” that threatens Australian food safety and the environment.

The Nanna’s berry scandal has heightened the focus on our right to know the fine print on imports in particular, and the need for health professionals to be engaged in the setting of standards and rules. Few would agree that a trade agreement, whose primary focus is to benefit transnational corporate interests, should govern food safety and food security.

FoE reports that the elimination of trade barriers and rules and labelling law is a priority for corporate representatives in the negotiations, raising specific concerns about the transparency of ethically and environmentally-questionable ingredients such as palm oil in imported products.

Calls for greater transparency and basic democratic accountability have been made extensively in the United States. US Senator Bernie Sanders said.

“We remain deeply concerned that representatives of special interests and multinational corporations have broad and deep access to the negotiating texts, while democratically elected officials and their designees do not. It is simply unacceptable.”

There is a need for open and honest debate on what should be included and exclude in the TPP trade negotiations. Even the most well-intended trade agreements have unintended consequences after implementation.

AFSA is calling for:

  • The immediate and unconditional release of the current text and all previous drafts of the TPP. The Australian people have a right to know what we are being asked to sign up to
  • Unequivocal rejection of Investor-State Dispute Settlement clauses, that sign away our sovereignty to transnational corporations
  • Rejection of increased patent rights on medicines that would delay availability of cheaper generic medics
  • Rejection of any proposals that would limit the ability of our governments to regulate the labeling of food for health and environmental reasons, including the labeling of foods containing genetically modified organisms
  • Rejection of any proposals that permit the patenting of life forms, plants or traditional indigenous knowledge
  • Rejection of any proposals that would restrict the ability of Australian governments at all levels to set standards for local content in government purchasing, or for labour rights and environmental standards to be applied to such purchasing
  • A full and independent review of all existing free trade agreements. It is simply assumed that ‘free trade’ is a ‘good thing’ for Australia. We say Australians need a full and honest accounting of the costs and benefits of FTAs, and how those costs and benefits have been distributed in our society.

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  • In todays paper an article showed a classic  example of the above and explained that Australia could be sued over changes to any of our food labelling as it could impede sales of products from overseas . The US is in locks with Canada over meat imports and  labelling at this moment.Our government actually has stalled on our proposed labelling changes concerned about the above scenario happening here.Barnaby Joyce although says labelling changes will happen.The world trade organisation sounds to me like another complete corrupt bureau as they inevitably would be the one bureau endorsing these ridiculous agreements and is in bed with all them multinationals and perhaps need to be investigated after FIFA.My opinion only.

    • Food is a tad more important than football. Not that anyone will really investigate trade deals, but they should!

      If the makers had nothing to hide, they would be glad to have their products labelled. They know a majority would not buy foods with GMOs in them for example. They are happy to sit by and see us eat all sorts of krud and they are not concerned with the long-term consequences to health.

      • That is so well said Elaine ,when comparing with FIFA I was only trying to draw a parallel with corruption. food is so much more an important thing for all of us.

  • There really is a hell of a lot more involved in this agreement than most people  I could arguably say including myself would realise.The whole lot looks so bloody deceitful,.We already have free trade agreements and I cannot see any advantages with this  for anyone one in our own country but leading multinationals ie usa.How rediculous that a company could sue us because we ask for better and more transparent food labelling but its looked as a hindrance to the sale of their products.With regards to non patenting rights to natural life forms this really is just common sense,no brainer and lets hope sanity prevails 

  • No . I think that's just the reporters words. It's all still in the works by the looks.

  • Does not sound as though our elected officials have actually, formally, said NO.

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