Trans-pacific trade agreement hurts consumers
11 Jun 2013
More transparency and stronger protection for consumers
is what consumer organisations are calling for
in the next round of negotiations of the Trans Pacific
The TPP is a trade agreement which will undergo its
18th round of negotiations next month in Malaysia. The
agreement involves 12 countries in the Americas and the
Twenty-five CI Members have issued a statement expressing
serious concern about the consequences for consumers of the
agreement in its current form, including:
- Intellectual property: Raises intellectual
property protections above existing World Trade Organization rules.
This could mean less competition and higher prices for consumers
while the extension of copyright may mean important cultural works
remain in private hands for much longer periods of time.
- E-commerce: Lowers privacy standards for
e-commerce transactions. The TPP rules could mean that consumers
making transactions where there are strong privacy laws will still
have their data compromised because it is stored on servers in
countries like the United States where such protections are far
less.With the recent leaks about US Government surveillance
activities, this is even more important.
- Food: Restricts domestic regulations of
genetically modified foods, pesticides and additives. International
rules is already hindering countries who want to ban products which
they consider unsafe. For example, under WTO rules, the European
communities were punished for prohibiting imports of beef from cows
laced with hormones, because the health risks of the use of
artificial hormones on cattle had not been scientifically
- Dispute settlement: Allows
corporations to sue governments in international commercial court.
For example, the tobacco giant Philip Morris is currently suing
Australia under a similar free trade agreement between Australia
and Hong Kong, over Australia's introduction of a law requiring
plain packaging of cigarettes.
Consumer organisations have been denied access to the texts of
the agreement, therefore, CI and participating Member organisations
are asking governments to make the process transparent and to
involve consumer organisations as it is consumers who will be most
affected by the outcomes of the TPP.
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