Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Organizations Denounce Signing of Sell-Out Trade Deal


October 6, 2015

Source: http://mlpc.ca/

Organizations of workers, farmers and concerned Canadians are speaking out against the Harper government signing the secret Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) neo-liberal trade agreement. Harper announced the agreement in a press conference on October 5 after media reported a deal had been reached the following night. The announcement was accompanied by news releases from the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, the Department of Finance and Agriculture and Agri-food Canada promoting the deal. Various organizations issued statements the same day pointing to the serious consequences the TPP will have on working people in Canada.

Canadian Labour Congress (CLC)

CLC President Hassan Yussuf said, "the TPP will benefit a select few by extending investors' power to protect profits, opening up our auto industry to low-wage competition and expanding monopolies for powerful multinationals like pharmaceutical companies."

Yussuff says "the auto-manufacturing sector will be especially hard hit by the deal, which includes significant reductions in local content requirements for vehicles and automotive parts."

The CLC notes, "A technical summary released by the government contains only vague information, leaving many questioning trade minister Ed Fast's assertion that he doesn't anticipate job losses. It does reveal that the deal maintains monopoly powers for pharmaceutical multinationals over generic producers."

Unifor

Unifor, representing more than 310,000 workers, including 40,000 in the auto sector denounced the Harper Conservatives "for signing a Trans-Pacific Partnership which will put an estimated 20,000 Canadian auto jobs at risk..."

Unifor "expressed shock that the Harper Conservatives accepted a 5-year phase out of tariffs on imports of passenger vehicles given that reports indicate that the US cut a deal with Japan that allows for a phase out of their tariff over at least 20 years."

The union notes, "Few specific details of the TPP have been released. However, it is clear that there have been dramatic reductions in the content rules. Required vehicle content has been reduced to just 45 % (compared to 62.5 % at present under NAFTA). In parts, average content thresholds will be even lower (compared to 60 % under NAFTA) ; federal government documents have not yet released the full set of parts content rules.

Unifor "also expressed concern about other aspects of the TPP, including the impact of tighter patent laws on drug prices, its inclusion of anti-democratic investor-state dispute courts, and major concessions on dairy and poultry marketing boards."

National Farmers Union

The National Farmers Union (NFU) "denounces the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), which would severely damage Canada's supply managed sectors — dairy, chicken, turkey and eggs — and provide illusory market gains for other agriculture sectors such as beef, pork, grain and oilseeds. Today, all supply managed farmers earn their livelihood from the marketplace, but the TPP will deny them the ability to fully serve Canadian consumers. The government's promised compensation to dairy producers for their losses will be borne by the taxpayer.

"'The federal government's promise of a $1.5 billion compensation package for loss of quota value over ten years and $2.4 billion for loss of income over 15 years seems unnecessarily high if we are only talking about a 3.25 percent dairy quota cut,' said Jan Slomp, NFU President. 'This large dollar amount suggests that the intent is to completely dismantle dairy supply management over the next ten years.'

"'Most countries protect and support their domestic dairy markets and subsidize their farmers. Canada's system does not require taxpayer support, and farmers obtain a fair return from the market. Dairy farmers in export-oriented countries, including TPP participants New Zealand, Australia and the USA, are suffering from their countries' failed policies,' Slomp added. 'Sacrificing our farmers and destroying a system that works for Canadian farmers, consumers, processors and taxpayers will not solve New Zealand's problems. Supply management should have been kept right out of TPP negotiations.'

"Each trade deal, whether it is the WTO, CETA or the TPP, adds on to the measures adopted in previous deals. Each has chipped away at Canadian farmers' share of our own domestic market by increasing the amount of tariff-free imports allowed. If the TPP goes through, 1 out of every 10 litres of milk consumed in Canada will be purchased from non-Canadian entities — those consumer dollars will exit our economy, and will support jobs and investment in other countries instead of here at home.

"The NFU also decries the TPP's anti-democratic measures, including the investor-state dispute settlement mechanism -- which allows corporations to sue governments if laws or regulations reduce their profit-making potential -- and the requirement for crown corporations to operate as if they were for-profit businesses instead of serving their primary public purposes."

Union of Agricultural Producers (UPA)

"The UPA finds it deplorable that production under supply management representing 43% of Quebec's farming income will bear the brunt of Canada's accession to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)," said the president of the Union of Agricultural Producers, Marcel Groleau.

"The announced concessions will have a significant impact on Quebec farmers and the economy of the regions. For example, if you include the concessions made under the Canada-European Union Agreement (CETA), over 5% of the dairy market will go to imports within the application of the two agreements.

"The announced compensation measures should be closely evaluated to ensure that farmers are fully compensated for the losses. At first glance, this does not appear to be the case, notably regarding quota values.

"In recent weeks producers have rallied at a level rarely seen. They carried the message loud and clear that they earn a decent livelihood and ensure that they can pass down their businesses. The question now is how the government will respond to these aspirations knowing that all Quebec farmers remain UNITED AND STRONG."

La Coop fédérée

La Coop fédérée, a cooperative of farmers and agri-food producers in Quebec said, "The new breach to tariff barriers in the dairy sector are disappointing and are of great concern as they add to the laxity of border protection that has arisen in recent years through the uncontrolled importation of milk proteins and poultry. And this does not take into account the eventual arrival of cheese imports following the ratification of the trade deal with Europe, which will corner another segment of the domestic market. ‘This must come to an end,' stated Denis Richard, president of La Coop fédérée. ‘The Canadian government needs to put a lock on all new dairy and poultry imports. The future of supply management itself, and that of thousands of dairy farms across Canada, depends on it.'

"Without a doubt these new concessions will have a direct financial impact on the dairy industry. ‘An analysis of the impact and the scope of the programs targeted for the affected sectors under supply management must be carried out so that it can determined if fair compensation for the negative impacts of the TPP will be provided,' said Mr. Richard.

Dairy Farmers of Canada

"Dairy Farmers of Canada (DFC) has been informed that the final agreement of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) includes market access concessions on dairy products. Some time is needed to fully evaluate the impacts of the agreement on our industry, but DFC's initial assessment is that in order to secure this trade agreement for Canada, the sum of access granted in the dairy industry projects to be 3.25 % of Canada's 2016 milk production. The milk displaced by this agreement will never be produced in Canada, and will result in perpetual lost revenue for our farmers, and for the Canadian economy.

DFC President Wally Smith said, "We intend to continue to diligently work to preserve a strong and sustainable Canadian dairy industry. Ensuring fair and predictable revenue for farmers has been at the heart of my mandate. Like my fellow dairy farmers, I am disappointed that additional access was granted in this deal. However, we remain as always, proud Canadian entrepreneurs and pillars in our communities, who are dedicated to producing high quality milk."

Council of Canadians

Maude Barlow, National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians said, "The Harper government has signed a deal that will lay off thousands of auto workers and put thousands of dairy farmers in jeopardy while giving even more foreign corporations the right to dictate Canadian policy. Stephen Harper has no right and no mandate to sign a deal that we are just learning about during a federal election. On October 19, we urge Canadians to vote against the TPP."

"Just what are we supposed to make of a deal that has been kept secret from the Canadian public? Our own legislators don't even know what's in it. Stephen Harper negotiated the TPP during an election when his mandate is simply to be a caretaker government. Parliament now has the ability to vote on the TPP. We strongly encourage the next government to reject it," she added.

OpenMedia

"The Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement reached today comes as the result of over five years of negotiations and poses an extreme threat to free expression online.

"Although the full text of the deal won't be available for a month, recent leaks of the Intellectual Property chapter shows participating countries face copyright overhauls, including : copyright term extensions, new provisions that would allow ISPs to block websites due to alleged infringement, and new criminal penalties for the circumvention of digital locks and rights management information.

"Internet users around the world should be very concerned about this ultra-secret pact," said OpenMedia's Digital Rights Specialist Meghan Sali. "What we're talking about here is global Internet censorship. It will criminalize our online activities, censor the Web, and cost everyday users money. This deal would never pass with the whole world watching – that's why they've negotiated it in total secrecy."

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)

"MSF expresses its dismay that TPP countries have agreed to United States government and multinational drug company demands that will raise the price of medicines for millions by unnecessarily extending monopolies and further delaying price-lowering generic competition. The big losers in the TPP are patients and treatment providers in developing countries. Although the text has improved over the initial demands, the TPP will still go down in history as the worst trade agreement for access to medicines in developing countries, which will be forced to change their laws to incorporate abusive intellectual property protections for pharmaceutical companies.

"For example, the additional monopoly protection provided for biologic drugs will be a new regime for all TPP developing countries. These countries will pay a heavy price in the decades to come that will be measured in the impact it has on patients. As the trade agreement now goes back to the national level for countries's final approval, we urge all governments to carefully consider before they sign on the dotted line whether this is the direction they want to take on access to affordable medicines and the promotion of biomedical innovation. The negative impact of the TPP on public health will be enormous, be felt for years to come and it will not be limited to the current 12 TPP countries, as it is a dangerous blueprint for future agreements."