Lawmakers call for the release of the TPP text to enable public scrutiny and debate

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78 TPP video screenshotPoliticians from nine countries around the pacific rim have signed a joint statement published today by the global NGO’s Oxfam and Article 19, the statement calls for the release of the text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) before it is signed, to allow for scrutiny and public debate.

The TPP is a sweeping new trade agreement that will affect consumer rights across the pacific rim, but which is being negotiated in secrecy. The national lawmakers signed up to a simple message calling for transparency. The message states:

 

We, the undersigned legislators from countries involved in the negotiation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, call on the parties to the negotiation to publish the draft text of the agreement before any final agreement is signed with sufficient time to enable effective legislative scrutiny and public debate.

The letter has been formally released by Oxfam and Article 19, two of the global NGOs that Consumers International has been working with in our TPP advocacy.

For the consumer movement, our concerns are even broader than just around the transparency of the agreement – though that is certainly fundamental.  We are also concerned that the text as it stands, including the leaked intellectual property chapter as well as chapters dealing with e-commerce, food and dispute settlement, could weaken established national consumer policies in order to grease the wheels of international commerce.

Whilst consumers benefit from trade, not everything that benefits traders also benefits consumers.  As CI's WCRD 2014 approaches, the intellectual property chapter is a case in point.  The TPP could require signatory countries to make it illegal for you to unlock your mobile phone so that you can use it with another carrier.

There are many other examples of potential harm to consumers from  the TPP, which illustrate the importance of a broad and robust public debate around the agreement.

As senior legislators from around the world agree, it is not acceptable for us to have to wait until a final deal is struck before we have a chance to scrutinise the agreement and debate it publicly.  Recent history shows that this is no longer an acceptable means of policy-making, particularly for agreements that concern the rights of digital consumers and Internet users.

CI believes this statement to the TPP shows the support for transparency during negotiations, which will begin again in Singapore on 22 February.

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