Oz trade minister RUBBISHES TPP fears

You can spread misinformation about secrets, apparently

Australia's trade minister has taken a swipe at critics of the Trans Pacific Partnership, accusing them of spreading “misinformation” about a trade treaty that's been kept as secret as possible since its inception.

In response to criticism from consumer watchdog Choice about the deal, Robb told ABC Radio “Those who are opposed to this scheme for all sorts of reasons are peddling a lot of misinformation, saying pharmacy costs will go up”.

Both Choice and the medico's union, the Australian Medical Association, have said that giving pharmaceutical vendors longer patents will delay access to generic medicines, imposing higher costs on both patients and the country's Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

Other key concerns surrounding the treaty include the criminalisation of copyright infringement, and the impact of investor-state dispute settlement on local policies (such as environmental protection and anti-dumping laws). America and Japan have also been at loggerheads over agricultural protection.

Choice says the provisions for copyright infringement in the treaty could impose criminal sanctions for a single unauthorised download.

Today marks day three of a ministerial conference on the TPP, which followed a week-long confab of negotiators. The progress of those negotiations has been better-guarded than in many previous rounds, with virtually no leaks emerging.

Ahead of the meeting, Japan's minister in charge of the TPP talks said he hoped the current talks would reach “an accord on basic elements” of the treaty, according to The Japan News.

Meanwhile, the Greens and the ALP – a participant in the treaty when in government – have become critical of the progress of the TPP. ALP leader Bill Shorten told the National Farmers' Federation that the federal government's commitment to trying to achieve a deadline on the TPP weakened its negotiating position.

The twelve countries involved in the TPP are Australia, Brunai, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, New Zealand, Singapore, the US and Vietnam. ®

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