Trans-Pacific Partnership

January 15, 2016

Human Rights Watch recently published an online Q&A (Questions and Answers) list on the human rights implications of TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership). The TPP is an economic and trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim countries.

The countries that are to ratify the agreement are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam, and the United States. As well as other organisations, Human Rights Watch states that the agreement raises serious human rights concerns, specifically with respect to labour rights, intellectual property, the right to health, and free expression and privacy rights on the Internet.

The Right to Health

With regards to the right to health, these concerns can be summarized as follows:

  • The TPP’s intellectual property chapter will enhance or extend patent and copyright protections for medicines, which in turn will lead to higher healthcare costs.
  • When a medicine’s patent has expired, a drug company may continue to own the data that shows that it is effective and safe. This will compel generic drug producers seeking to produce generic drugs to undertake duplicative and unnecessary trials to re-prove findings that have already been scientifically demonstrated. 
  • In practice, the TPP’s intellectual property provisions will limit or undermine developing countries’ policy options for obtaining lower cost medicines.

More information: Q&A: The Trans-Pacific Partnership (Human Rights Watch website)