Unions concerned at APEC statement on TPPTA
APEC leaders meeting in Hawaii said nothing about establishing a fairer trading system, investing in decent jobs or strengthening social protection. Unions were particularly concerned at the statement on a Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Agreement (TPPTA) announced at the APEC summit on November 12, 2011.
ASIA-PACIFIC: The ITUC has expressed deep concern at recent developments in the negotiations for a TPPTA.
"Time has nearly run out for trade negotiators to show us that this time it is different. We cannot and will not support a trade agreement that lifts the boats of the 1%, leaving the rest of us washed up on the rocks," said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow.
In a press release issued yesterday the ITUC denounces that "it is apparent that the TPPTA negotiators, while delivering on meetings, have done very little to deliver on trade unions' well-grounded concerns. Instead, the TPPTA framework document appears in many respects to be more of the same, if not worse than before. Indeed, the paragraph on labour omits any mention of an enforcement mechanism, which is found in many existing FTAs and a key demand of the trade unions. Mechanisms that allow corporations to sue governments over their regulatory decisions, such as a current attack against Australia's tobacco packaging regulations meant to safeguard public health, remain in place. Leaked documents on intellectual property and pharmaceuticals appear to sacrifice access to affordable medicines to greater pharmaceutical industry profit by, for example, erecting barriers to cheaper, generic drugs entering the market. This is not the "21st Century" agreement that working people had in mind. Indeed, it seems like yet another trade agreement that privileges substantial new opportunities for investors over good jobs for workers." See the full statement here.
In a joint statement issued in 2010, trade unions from Asia-Pacific engaged in the TPPTA called for a well-balanced agreement that "foments the creation of good jobs, protects the rights and interests of working people, leads to long-term, balanced economic development and promotes a healthy environment".
IMF affiliates in Asia-Pacific and the Americas expressed similar concerns in August this year and demanded that the creation of quality jobs and the promotion of fundamental labour standards be made explicit goals of the TPPTA.
Nov 16, 2011 – Carla Coletti