Nurses around the world stand together as patient advocates for the highest standards of healthcare, safe patient care, and economic and social justice. We, the undersigned leaders of unions representing nurses and other health care workers in eight countries, have been deeply concerned that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), negotiated amongst 12 national governments, will harm public health, labor standards, and consumer safety, exacerbate the problems of poverty, environmental degradation and climate disruption, and further entrench corporate domination of our economies and our societies.
We were pleased to see the news last week that US President Barack Obama has decided not to submit the TPP for ratification to the US Congress during the “lame duck” session. We applaud the broad grassroots progressive movement in the U.S. which successfully pressured President Obama to abandon his attempts to ratify the agreement. Without US ratification, the agreement cannot go into effect. We strongly urge the governments of the other TPP signatory countries to publicly declare their intention to abandon the pact. We will remain vigilant on behalf of our patients and our communities to ensure that the TPP does not get resuscitated next year, as we recognize that this is not the end of attempts to impose this and other corporate-dominated trade deals.
If ratified, the TPP would reduce access to affordable medications. Pharmaceutical corporations would be given years more of monopoly pricing practices on their patents for high priced brand name drugs to block distribution of competitive, cheaper, life saving generic medications. That is especially critical for people suffering from cancer, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, and other illnesses around the world. At the same time, the TPP would allow drug companies the legal authority to challenge and overturn national laws and regulations that permit governments to negotiate lower drug prices through bulk purchases, which cuts costs for everyone.
The TPP would also expose people to unsafe food and products. In countries with strong food safety laws on the use of pesticides and additives on meat, poultry, seafood, and vegetables, the TPP would threaten those standards as “illegal trade barriers” that could subject more people to unsafe food and goods. Food labels providing information on the source of the food and how it was produced would also be subject to successful challenge by wealthy corporate interests, as noted by public interest organizations.
Environmental toxins, including air and water pollutants, as well as industrial accidents have been linked to a broad range of serious illnesses. At the same time, greenhouse gas pollution from the production and use of fossil fuels is the leading cause of climate disruption, which poses the greatest single threat to public health facing humanity. The TPP would give fossil fuel, petrochemical, mining and other corporations expanded legal authority to sue governments and to nullify environmental and public health protections, as well as to undermine international GHG reduction measures, thus hastening the destruction of our natural environment and climate systems, upon which all life depends.
Finally, if ratified, the TPP would undermine democracy and national sovereignty. Hundreds of large corporations have participated in the drafting of the TPP in secret with restricted access even to members of national legislatures. Through the legally binding mechanisms that provide for corporate-dominated trade tribunals, corporate interests will have enormous leeway to invalidate laws enacted by democratically elected representatives. Corporations will also have the expanded ability to sue governments and demand hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer-funded settlements over laws they argue are barriers to trade or profit, even when those laws protect public health, public information, or the public interest. National sovereignty and democratic rights for people of all the affected nations will be substantially damaged if these deals are approved.
For all these reasons, and for the sake of our patients and our communities, we urge all of our respective governments to reject the Trans-Pacific Partnership once and for all.
Lee Thomas, Federal Secretary
Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation
Régine Laurent, Président
Fédération Interprofessionnelle de la santé Québec
Linda Silas, President
Canadian Federation of Nurses’ Unions
Magaly Miranda Ávila, Presidenta
Federación Nacional de Asociaciones de Enfermera y Enfermeros de Chile
Chikako Nakano, President
Japan Federation of Medical Workers’ Unions (NIHON-IROREN)
Jorge Martínez Valero
Leticia A. Padilla Chairez
Alejandro González Peralta
Francisca Herrera Chiquito
María López Ramírez
Fernando Trujillo Camacho.
Asamblea Nacional de Enfermeras y Enfermeros de México
Memo Musa, General Secretary
New Zealand Nurses Organisation
Zoila Cotrina Díaz, Presidenta
Federación de Enfermeras del Ministério de Salud del Perú
Jean Ross, RN, Co-President
National Nurses United
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA