The TPPA is a trade treaty being negotiated by the US and 10 other countries. Negotiations have been going on in secret since March 2010. The countries involved are the US, Canada, Mexico, Chile, Peru, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, Brunei and New Zealand, with Mexico and Canada being recent entrants.
The draft investment chapter of the TPPA was leaked (PDF) in February this year. The Greens said they feared it could prevent the governments of the countries they represented from performing effectively.
"More than just another trade agreement, the TPPA provisions could hinder access to safe, affordable medicines, weaken local content rules for media, stifle high-tech innovation, and even restrict the ability of future governments to legislate for the good of public health and the environment," a statement, issued by New Zealand Greens MP Metiria Turei, said.
The leaked draft shows that foreign investors could sue countries in a private international tribunal if national parliaments or local councils passed laws that reduced their profits or adversely affected their businesses.
Australia has not agreed to this provision of the treaty, but all the other countries have given their assent.
The Greens statement said laws like those mandating plain packaging of tobacco (Australia), labelling of genetically-modified food and drink (New Zealand) and retention of agricultural regulations, such as Canada's supply management system for dairy, could be the target of international companies.
"We believe the TPPA is being used to sneak in measures to bind its member countries to extensive and harsh laws on internet use that wouldn't be acceptable at the domestic level - including harsher criminal penalties for minor, non-commercial copyright infringements, a 'take-down and ask questions later' approach to pages and content alleged to breach copyright, and the possibility of internet providers having to disclose personal information to authorities without safeguards for privacy," the statement said.
"The European Parliament voted 478-39 against the international ACTA treaty, which was trying to create similar standards. Now, the same type of regulation is being attempted under the TPPA."
The Greens also pointed out that under the IP draft of the TPPA, which was leaked (PDF) last February, copyright holders could ban parallel imports. This meant that people in Canada, New Zealand and Australia would end up paying more for books and DVDs.
"Small and medium-sized software and IT businesses would have their innovative visions stifled by constraining patent laws. Finally, large pharmaceutical companies could use the legislation to deny state drug-buying agencies like those in Australia and New Zealand access to reliable, low-cost medicines," the statement said.
The Greens said it was ironic that while big companies and the Motion Picture Association of America had access to the entire draft text of the treaty, the public had been able to gain access only because of leaks.
"Together, we Green Parties are declaring that we will only support a fair, genuinely progressive trade agreement that promotes sustainable development and the creation of new jobs alongside the protection of the environment and human rights (including freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining)," the statement said.
"We call on our current governments to remove the veil of secrecy surrounding this agreement and to open these negotiations to public input and comment."