The latest release from WikiLeaks on parts of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement dealing with medical insurance and medical systems goes some way in affirming the destructive potential the agreement has. Forged in the corridors of unaccountable secrecy, officials have been undermining their own sovereign systems at stages, even as they claim it to be in their country’s interest.
The draft chapters released by WikiLeaks have already revealed the extent corporations will be privileged with an assortment of investment protections, while broader environmental protections will be undermined. The entire agreement reads like a catastrophic abdication of sovereignty and state responsibility. The boardroom triumphs over the parliamentary chamber.
In an analysis of the Annex on transparency and procedural fairness for pharmaceutical products by Jane Kelsey of the Law Faculty at Auckland University, we are told that the document “seeks to erode the processes and decisions of agencies that decide which medicines and medical devices to subsidise with public money and by how much.”
Provinces where the state should stand guard will be subject to a shadow occupation. The TPP acts as an ultimate ground clearance, a form of scorched earth policy on traditional protections. One such area is that of state-run medical schemes. Investor-state disputes have the potential of cutting deep there, where the investors (corporations, for the most part) will have a legitimate expectation to be treated fairly and equitably. This may arise in cases where subsiding medicines or medical devices could be challenged as negatively affecting investments.
For that reason, Australia, in the leaked investment chapter of January 2015, specified that its own Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, Medicare Benefits Scheme, and Therapeutic Goods Administration and Office of the Gene Technology Regulation would be exempt from such investor state dispute settlement.