The leak of Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) text on transparency for pharmaceutical purchasing agencies shows many things, but one thing above all – the United States and the US pharmaceutical industry is not getting its own way in this negotiation. Previous leaks have been similar. The environment leak showed that TPP was exploring legally binding provisions for environmental protection (the first time in any FTA). The intellectual property leak showed that economies were resisting demands for higher IP protection. The investment leak showed that there are likely to be clear exceptions from investor state dispute settlement for regulation to promote public health and the environment. And this latest pharma leak shows the US has backed down on some of its earlier demands about pricing for medicines paid by agencies like Pharmac. Importantly too the leak shows that the US has accepted that its own Pharmac-like systems including Medicaid and Medicare need to be captured by TPP disciplines (again a first for any FTA). It was particularly interesting that the leak was released in association with commentary by prominent anti-TPP activists. This shows a disturbing alignment of those activists with Wikileaks. Furthermore the leaked documents have curious deletions – the references to specific economies’ positions on individual items within the text are redacted (they are referred simply to “xx”). Why is that? Who did this and why? Because Wikileaks is unaccountable to anyone except themselves, no-one can possibly know. That seems strange for an organisation, which purports to be concerned about transparency and accountability.
This post was written by Stephen Jacobi, Executive Director, NZ International Business Forum (www.nzibf.co.nz). Like other business organisations in NZ, NZIBF has no access to TPP negotiating text.