This content is from: Australia

Australian senators call for TPP transparency

Members of the upper house in Australia’s parliament have called for the government to publish the final text of the trans-Pacific free trade deal before it is signed off by the cabinet

The motion, passed on Wednesday, was introduced by the Green Party and supported by senators from the Labor party.

“[The] result is an important step forward in compelling [prime minister] Tony Abbott to end the secrecy and hidden agendas that have defined his government to date,” said senator Peter Whish-Wilson, Australian Greens spokesperson for trade.

Negotiators from the 12 countries talking part in talks for the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement have been under pressure to release more documents from the negotiations. Some parts of civil society are concerned about attempts to raise minimum standards for IP protection in TPP signatory states, as well as the possibility that they may agree to investor-state dispute settlement provisions.

Tobacco company Philip Morris is suing Australia under investor-state clauses contained in a free trade deal between Australia and Hong Kong over the country’s tobacco plain packaging law.

The issue of excessive secrecy in trade talks is one that has dogged negotiators in a number of recent multi- and bilateral deals, most notably in the recent attempts to pass an Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. Talks on ACTA collapsed last year.

You can read more about free trade deals and the IP aspects of the TPP in Managing IP’s September issue.

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