The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a trade agreement that would adversely affect the environment, workers' rights, cost of medicines, internet freedoms, food safety, intellectual property rights and indigenous rights.
The trade deal includes twelve countries and is seen as a ‘launch pad’ agreement with more countries expected to join. The TPP covers roughly 40% of global GDP and would impact 800 million people in the partnering Nations. The TPP was negotiated behind closed doors, the content of the deal only released to our elected representatives and the public once it was signed. This agreement is not only undemocratic but would also open the possibility of transnational corporations suing the Australian government, with the possible loss of billions of taxpayer dollars.
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What we want
Friends of the Earth is calling on the Australian Government to:
Vote against enabling legislation to counter attempts to ratify the TPP
Debate and vote on the signing of the TPP through our elected representatives in Parliament
Remove ISDS components from the TPP and all future trade & treaty agreements
Affirm the commitment to ensuring no corporations should have more power than that of the Australian Government and its citizens.
The Current State of Play
US President-Elect Donald Trump has stated that he will withdraw from the TPP on 20th January, his first day in office. If Trump stands by this promise, it will be impossible for the TPP to come into force - if not all of the 12 participating nations ratify the agreement, key conditions state that at least six countries must sign on, and that those six must represent at least 85% of the GDP of the original 12 countries. As the US represents just under 62% of the total GDP, implementation of the agreement without the US is impossible.
Closer to home, Australia's Trade Minister Steven Ciobo continues to maintain hope that the TPP will survive, stating that "We are only nine months into a 24-month process... I think we need to give the Americans time to consider the pros and cons of the TPP." Ciobo has also floated the idea of a TPP-lookalike involving China or Indonesia, in addition to Australia's current participation in Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) negotiations.
For more information on the risks of RCEP, see the recently released paper produced jointly by Friends of the Earth International and a number of other organisations.
Make your voice heard on ISDS
The dangers of the Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanism are well-documented here and in our paper Fracking the Planet, however both major parties continue to support the TPP despite its inclusion – and Federal Trade Minister Steven Ciobo, who was sworn in to the position in July this year, has proved himself to be as staunchly pro-TPP as his predecessor Andrew Robb.
In the lead-up to the US election in November, it is crucial that the Australian parliament take action to prevent ratification of the TPP should President Obama succeed in forcing a lame-duck vote in the period between the November election and January 2017 when the new President enters the White House. Both the Senate and the Lower House have the opportunity to vote against enabling legislation, which will likely be tabled later this year, effectively countering attempts to ratify the agreement.
This is a crucial time in the campaign to make our voices heard, as without undergoing the ratification process Australia cannot enter into the agreement. With this in mind, we ask you to phone or email Minister Ciobo calling on him to refuse to ratify the TPP unless ISDS is removed from the agreement.
Phone: (07) 5504 6000
TPP Election Scorecard
In the lead-up to the July Election, we released a scorecard ranking all parties and independents who were current seat-holders in the upper or lower house on two questions:
If Elected, will you:
- Vote against the enabling legislation for the Trans-Pacific Partnership?
- Introduce or support legislation to ban ISDS (Investment State Dispute Settlement) in all trade agreements?
TPP Text Released - What Now?
The full TPP text was released in November - and we read some of it so you don't have to. Here's a bit of what's wrong with it, with a focus on the Environment Chapter and ISDS clause.
Read our report on Fracking and the TPP
‘Fracking the Planet: How the Trans Pacific Partnership will expand fracking in Australia and around the globe’.
Friends of the Earth Melbourne’s Economic Justice Collective have released a paper titled ‘Fracking the Planet: How the Trans Pacific Partnership will expand fracking in Australia and around the globe’. The paper explains the implications of the Investment State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) Chapter of the TPP, and explores the ways in which foreign corporations could use this clause to override the Australian law and environmental regulations to continue fracking the planet”
The authors of this paper are concerned that the inclusion of the ISDS clause in the TPP will provide foreign fossil fuel corporations, such as Shenhua, Idemitsu or Chevron, with an avenue through which to sue the Australian Government for instituting legislation designed to protect the natural environment, human health and agricultural land. The ISDS clause may also have a chilling effect on public policy and regulations in relation to repealing coal mine licenses, or even adhering to food safety standards and environmental protection regulations.
'Fracking the Planet' also explains the basic process of fracking, and presents the state of play across Australia, the US and Europe in 2015, including areas engaging in fracking, bans and moratoriums, and areas of community resistance.
Unions and Communities Roundtable - Sign on to the Joint Statement
At the recent 2015 ACTU National Congress, over 60 groups including Unions and community organisations came together and unanimously agreed on a statement calling on the Australian Government to release the TPP text immediately or withdraw Australia from the secret negotiations. We are now calling on you as an individual or your organisation to sign on to this statement and show solidarity with the 2.4 million members of the ACTU and the millions of supporters represented by the various community groups at the TPP Roundtable. As one united voice we can make sure the Government puts the Australian people before the interests of multinational corporations. #ReleaseTheText
How the TPP will impact us all.
The TPP empowers corporations to sue governments for environmental and health measures they do not like
The TPP limits access to medicines by extending monopoly protections for pharmaceutical giants
The TPP prioritises large-scale corporate agriculture (GMOs, antibiotics, etc) over sustainable local farming
The TPP restricts Internet innovation and increases the surveillance of online interactions
The TPP undermines Indigenous rights and human rights
The TPP will create a race to the bottom on working conditions, environmental standards and all kinds of public regulations
THE TPP is bad for our farmers and bad for the Environment
The TPP grants foreign investor rights that are far more sweeping than rights provided in Australian law through a process called Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS). The TPP’s ISDS chapter would authorise international tribunals to order payment of millions or billions of taxpayer dollars in compensation to big corporations when environmental and other public interest safeguards interfere with their expected future profits. The tribunals are secret and once a decision is made there is no right of appeal. Such lawsuits underway:
The Quebec government is being sued for $158 million dollars for banning fracking
The German government is being sued for its choice to phase out nuclear power stations by Swedish corporation Vattenfall, in a projected billion euro lawsuit
Tobacco giant Phillip Morris is already launching a lawsuit against the Australian government in relation to the introduction of plain-packaging laws, the TPP would open the door to similar lawsuits under the TPP ISDS clause.
There are over 550 known pending ISDS suits underway, costing a potential six billion dollars