New Zealand unions are demanding that the country’s government tell people what is being proposed under the US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) negotiations.
Unions believe the TPPA will give foreign investors excessive rights and protection, including the ability to sue for breaches of their treaty rights. For example, they claim the TPPA would stipulate consultation of foreign companies on proposed laws, and that foreign investment regulations can only be weakened, not made stronger.
As part of a nationwide campaign calling for more transparency, the unions are asking people to sign a letter to be delivered to National Party prime minister John Key, demanding that the text for the negotiations be released at the next round of TPPA negotiations in Chile.
According to Andrew Campbell of the finance workers’ union FinSec and spokesperson for TPP Watch, “the idea that binding and enforceable restrictions on future governments can be signed, sealed and delivered behind our backs is what happens in a dictatorship, not a democracy.”
It comes hard on the heels of another trade and IP treaty, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement or ACTA ,that has also been sharply criticised for its lack of transparency.
Nine countries including the US, New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, Chile and Peru are currently negotiating the TPPA which is expected to be concluded end of this year.
Earlier this month, University of Auckland law professor and globalisation critic Jane Kelsey accused the US of dictating that TPPA signatories pass secondary liability laws for ISPs whose users infringe copyright.
Secondary liability for ISPs was part of ACTA as well, but the US withdrew the provisions after international pressure and opposition from Internet corporations such as Google.