Leaked memo shows steep concessions for Pacific trade deal

The Age

Australia is in the box seat to crack the US sugar market, leaked trade documents show. But in return it may have to allow US companies to sue Australian governments, a concession until now it has not been willing to make.

The leaked documents, published by The Huffington Post and WikiLeaks, are a memo and spreadsheet prepared by negotiators from one of the 12 nations attempting to reach agreement on a so-called Trans-Pacific Partnership encompassing Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam.

The memo portrays the Australian delegation, led by Trade Minister Andrew Robb, as resisting attempts by the US to increase the influence of drug manufacturers over Australia’s Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
Australia is not prepared ”to go beyond” the conditions it has already agreed to in its free trade agreement with the United States, it says.

But Australia has begun working behind the scenes with the US and Japan to reintroduce rejected clauses that would give US drug companies greater influence over the decisions of other nations.
”The Australian position is unclear and begins to show some weakness,” the memo says.

”The Australian position is unclear and begins to show some weakness,” the memo says.
The leaked document, prepared after the first day of the five-day ministerial talks in Singapore, says the US is exerting ”great pressure, which will increase with each passing day”.
One of the US techniques is to set up smaller groups of nations that formulate agreed positions known as ”landing zones” that tend to show ”a solution coming from the US position”.

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