Prominent public health, advocacy and professional organisations have called on trade ministers from eleven remaining Trans-Pacific Partnership countries not to attempt to resurrect the deal at their meeting in Hanoi tomorrow.
The open letter is signed by the World Federation of Public Health Organisations and leading health organisations from most of the non-US participating countries – including from Australia, New Zealand and Japan, whose governments are leading moves to revive the agreement since the U.S. withdrawal.
The signatories reiterated concerns they and others had previously raised regarding the negative impacts of the Agreement on people’s right to health, access to affordable medicines, and the ability of governments to regulate health-damaging activities of corporations.
Many of these provisions were included at the insistence of the U.S., which is no longer party, notably the unprecedented monopoly protections for biologic medicines.
To address their concerns many parts of the text signed on 4 February 2016 would have to be rewritten from first principles.
"The provisions for biologic medicines included in the TPP at the behest of the U.S. pharmaceutical industry would reduce access to treatments for cancer and other serious health conditions in the Asia-Pacific Region" said Dr Deborah Gleeson, spokesperson for the Public Health Association of Australia. "Now that the U.S. has withdrawn, the opportunity to remove these harmful and unnecessary rules should not be missed."
New Zealand Public Health Association President Louise Delany urged the parties ‘to ensure that health, social and environmental objectives are central to any new agreement, so that trade rules are consistent with and help give effect to the globally agreed Sustainable Development Goals’.
‘The TPPA was another life sentence hanging over people with HIV and AIDS. We thought that was lifted when the US pulled out. Now some of them they want to go ahead. Listen to us. Choose life over the TPPA said Edward Low, Director of Positive Malaysian Treatment Access & Advocacy Group (MTAAG+)’.
‘We are shocked that the TPPA, which raised grave health and human rights concerns, remains on the agenda of 11 of the original negotiating countries, even after the US has pulled out of it. APN+ members are in 6 of these countries - Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and Japan - and will be among the first to face the consequences of this disastrous trade agreement on their health and lives’, said Shiba Phurailatpam of the Asia Pacific Network of People living with HIV and AIDS (APN+). ‘We now know that the TPPA text gives stronger and greatly expanded intellectual property rights over medicines to the multinational pharmaceutical industry that will adversely impact the lives and health of millions of patients in the Asia-Pacific. It must be rejected - once and for all.’