Joe Stiglitz writes open letter to TPP negotiators

Professor Joseph Stiglitz has written an open letter to the TPP negotiators, asking that they resist proposals to weaken consumer rights in intellectual property. The letter identifies 12 specific “grave risks” in the IP Chapter, and calls upon negotiators to publish the investor state dispute resolution text.

Professor Stiglitiz is one of the best know economists in the world, having won the Nobel prize for Economic Science in 2001, and having previously served as the chief economist for the World Bank and as the Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors for President Clinton. A PDF of the letter is attached below. The text follows:

Dear TPP negotiators,

December 6, 2013

As trade negotiators, you are being asked to resolve a large number of important issues that have divided Parties in the negotiations for a Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement.

The decision to make the negotiating text secret from the public (even though the details are accessible to hundred of advisors to big corporations) makes it difficult for the public to offer informed commentary. But the recent publication of the negotiating text for the intellectual property rights chapter by Wikileaks, and an earlier leak of the investor state dispute resolution proposals, as well as numerous reports in the business press, make it clear that the agreement presents grave risks on all sorts of topics.

As regards the provisions on intellectual property, negotiators should resist text that would, among other things:

  • weaken the 2001 Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health
  • mandate extensions of patents terms
  • mandate lower standards for granting patents on medicines
  • mandate granting patents on surgical procedures,
  • mandate monopolies of 12 years on test data for biologic drugs
  • narrow the grounds for granting compulsory license on patents,
  • increase damages for infringements of patents and copyrights,
  • reduce space for exceptions as regards limits on injunctions, and
  • narrow copyright exceptions
  • requiring life+ 70 years of copyright protection,
  • mandate excessive enforcement measures for digital information, and
  • otherwise restrict access to knowledge.

At this point in time, we do not need a TRIPS plus trade agreement, we need a TRIPS minus agreement. The TPP proposes to freeze into a binding trade agreement many of the worst features of the worst laws in the TPP countries, making needed reforms extremely difficult if not impossible.

The investor state dispute resolution mechanisms should not be shrouded in mystery to the general public, while the same provisions are routinely discussed with advisors to big corporations.