In a letter today to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, three health organisations set out major concerns on the Trans Pacific Partnership 11. The three groups, Doctors for Healthy Trade, the New Zealand Nurses Organisation, and OraTaiao: New Zealand Climate and Health Council, urged Ms Ardern to be mindful of the risks to health posed by the massive Trans Pacific Partnership (TPPA) investment deal. The TPPA had been negotiated by the previous government, behind closed doors.
“The TPPA is a serious risk to health. The new government should not be following blindly into this. Housing is not the only risk to New Zealand in the TPPA” Dr Erik Monasterio, spokesperson for Doctors for Healthy Trade said.
The three health organisations urged the Prime Minister, as she goes into discussions in Vietnam, to hold fast to four bottom lines:
1. No Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS): There are alternative dispute resolution procedures which are effective and legitimate. ISDS must go. It is inappropriate for the 21st century – as a dispute settlement model it has been rejected by the EU and most recently the US.
2. Remove the provisions in the TPPA deal that extend the duration of patents and on biologics (a category of medicines). Keeping our current laws will help sustain PHARMAC’s quality and protect the long term health future of New Zealanders. If these TPPA provisions are only ‘suspended’ (not fully removed) they may be brought back to life at any time.
3. Maintain the ability of New Zealand governments to protect the health of New Zealand communities through legislation, policy, regulation and enforcement, without adding additional costs.
4. Commission an open and participatory health impact assessment to guide decisions in this and all similar investment negotiations.
“Re-negotiation is needed to ensure that investment agreements benefit all. That means not only making medicines affordable for everyone, but also protecting health from future risks, not just unaffordable housing but the biggest risk – climate change” Dr Monasterio said.