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AMSA at the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement Negotiations: Locked Out

This week, Reshma Ramachandran, AMSA's PharmFree Fellow, and Dr. Elizabeth Wiley, AMSA's National President, traveled to Auckland, New Zealand to participate in the 15th Round of Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement negotiations as a stakeholder group. Back in June, AMSA participated in the 13th Round of TPP negotiations in San Diego and the 14th Round of TPP negotiations in Leesburg, VA in September. At stake in these negotiations is access to medicines and procedures as well as public health concerns like tobacco and alcohol. For more information about the TPP and to sign onto an international petition opposing provisions that limit access to medicines and threaten public health, check out AMSA's TPP webpage here.

At this round of negotiations, however, Reshma and Liz arrived in Auckland to find that stakeholders had been "locked out" of negotiations with the exception of Stakeholder Day on Friday, December 7. With the possibility that the IP chapter of the agreement would be considered during this round, this was very disappointing news. The lockout means that stakeholders like AMSA were precluded from meeting with negotiators --- while corporate representatives from Phrma and other industries enjoyed unrestricted access to the negotiations.

AMSA signed on to the statement below with other stakeholder groups to express its disappointment with the decision to exclude stakeholders from negotiations:

Academics, experts, consumer groups, Internet freedom organizations, libraries, educational institutions, patients and access to medicines groups have flown a long way from around the world to Auckland, New Zealand, to engage with delegates in the 15th round of Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations.

For the first time, however, we have been locked out of the entire venue, except for a single day out of the 10 days of negotiations. This not only alienates us as members of public interest groups, but also the hundreds of thousands of innovators, educators, patients, students, and Internet users who have sent messages to government representatives expressing their concerns with the TPP. All of us oppose the complete unjustifiable secrecy around the negotiations, but more importantly, the IP provisions that could potentially threaten our rights, and innovation.

These new physical restrictions on us are reflective of the ongoing lack of transparency that has plagued the TPP negotiations from the very beginning.

Industry lobbyists looking to protect their outdated business models have, if anything, been provided greater access and influence over the drafting of the agreement than our groups. We are here on the ground in Auckland to ensure that the TPP really levels the playing field for access to knowledge, access to health and medicines, innovation, and economic development around the world. No matter how much they continue to block us from these negotiations, the more determined we become to ensure that citizens and expert voices are heard.

American Medical Student Association (US)
Consumers International (International)
Electronic Frontier Foundation (International)
Electronic Frontiers Australia (Australia)
InternetNZ (New Zealand)
Knowledge Ecology International (US)
Malaysian AIDS Council (Malaysia)
Malaysian Women’s Action for Tobacco Control and Health – MyWATCH (Malaysia)
New Zealand Nurses Association (New Zealand)
ONG Derechos Digitales (Chile)
OpenMedia.Ca (Canada)
Public Citizen (US)
Public Health Association of Australia (Australia)
Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (International)

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