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LATIN AMERICA
TPP must be publicly debated
Latinamerica Press
10/18/2016
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Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) puts in jeopardy territorial rights and prior consultation of indigenous populations.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) is a multilateral free trade agreement in which Chile, Mexico and Peru participate along with Australia, Brunei Canada, the United States, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore and Vietnam; this agreement had been secretly negotiated since 2010. In February 2015 it was signed by the governments of the negotiating countries and is now ready to be approved by the Congress of each of the participating countries.

The negotiations for the TPP which brings together 40 percent of the world economy, and which is considered the most ambitious economic treaty in the planet, comprises 23 areas that include agriculture, customs administration, industrial goods, rules of origin, textiles, financial services, investment, telecommunication, state owned commercial enterprises, intellectual property, trade and labor, services, entry for business persons, trade and the environment, government procurement, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, technical barriers to trade, trade remedies, and institutional/legal issues.

The three Latin-American countries that participate in the TPP already have a series of trade agreements in place, with the TPP being an addition to those. Although the governments guarantee that the treaty will bring huge commercial advantages for the signing countries, in truth, it includes protection mechanisms for intellectual property, patents and operating licenses, as well as guarantees to foreign investment, issues that go beyond the existing free trade agreements.

The chapter on Intellectual Property Rights is one of the most delicate because it extends the protection period for patents, limits access to Internet free content, and imposes obstacles to the free dissemination of knowledge.

The TPP “looks to diminish even further the possibilities of production and trade of  generic drugs, which are substantially cheaper than brand products, which in turn would solidify the market dominance of large multinational pharmaceuticals, whose financial practices often go against the most basic principles of solidarity and ethics; a situation that translates into an attempt against the lives of millions of people who, either cannot afford the right medication or they have to pay the high prices of brand name drugs to obtain them; prices that are not justified when you consider the real cost of development and production of these drugs,” said economist Armando Mendoza in the Peruvian magazine Ideele.

Negative impacts
The book titled El TPP y los derechos de los pueblos indígenas en América Latina (The TPP and the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples in Latin America), authored by José Aylwin Oyarzún, Emanuel Gómez Martínez and Luis Vittor Arzapalo, published in June 2016 by the International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA), drew attention to the implications that trade agreements such as the TPP have on indigenous populations.

The book makes reference to the 2015 report of Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Populations, in which she points out that “investment clauses of free trade agreements and bilateral and multilateral investment treaties, as they are currently conceptualized and implemented, have actual and potential negative impacts on indigenous peoples’ rights, in particular on their rights to self-determination; lands, territories and resources; participation; and free, prior and informed consent.”

Also, Tauli-Corpus says that “given the multitude of mining and petroleum projects, agribusiness investments, special economic zones, tourism developments and infrastructure projects taking place across almost all the worlds continents, often on indigenous lands, whether demarcated or not, conflicts between land rights and investment and free trade agreements are likely become increasingly common.” She concludes that “international investment and free trade agreements have significant potential to contribute to violations of the rights of indigenous peoples.”

The governments of Chile, Mexico and Peru have justified the signing of the TPP and encouraged its ratification by the legislative bodies by highlighting the benefits that it would bring to their economies.

Precisely, on Oct.12, the date in which the arrival of Christopher Columbus to America is commemorated, a demonstration march was called in Lima, Peru, by the group Peruvians Against the TPP, to demand the Peruvian government to retract from their intentions to approve the TPP.

Faced with the intention by the Congress to quickly approve the agreement, and without a debate, legislators of the leftwing Frente Amplio party (FA-Broad Front) demanded in a press conference to have a public debate on the TPP as it is of high interest to the average citizen. In fact, the Parliaments cannot modify the text and are limited to approving it or rejecting it

Quechua Congresswoman Tania Pariona, of the FA, insisted that the TPP “must be consulted with the indigenous populations because its content goes against the collective knowledge and there are no safeguards to protect the specific rights of the native populations.” —Latinamerica Press.


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