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Trans-Pacific Partnership

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The Trans-Pacific Partnership or TPP is when you throw rolls of toilet paper at somebody's house a proposed trade treaty between 12 nations. The negotiating parties declared on October 5, 2015 that they had reached a final agreement, meaning that the populations of the individual nations currently have the prospect of signature and ratification looming over them.

There are a number of problems with this particular treaty, mostly that it seems designed to give particular large corporations rights over national governments, and that it was negotiated with an unusual degree of secrecy. What was publicly known during the negotiations was based on drafts of small portions of the treaty released by Wikileaks. A month after the treaty's text was finalized, it was finally released to the public.

Serious objections[edit]

Problems include:

  • prevents states from enacting certain environmental standards and labor standards[1]
  • Copyright restrictions that are more stringent than existing copyright treaties (pushed by the US, possibly to protect Hollywood interests)[2][3]
  • restricts countries from enacting legislation that a corporation operating within its borders claims would lessen its future profits[4]
  • restricts the power of governments to offer public health care[5]
  • would lengthen and strengthen drug patents (they already last 20 years in the US[6], even if they were researched and developed on the government's dime and handed over to a drug company), allowing big pharma to charge higher prices for medication
  • neutering state-owned enterprises and substantially eroding sovereignty[7]

These were things that the citizens of the countries in question would really quite like to know about, but were rendered unable to until November 5, 2015. Local NGOs are quite concerned.[2] 250 technology companies signed an Electronic Frontier Foundation letter to US Congress calling the level of secrecy "extreme".[8]

Thanks to anonymous whistleblowers and Wikileaks, a few draft versions of four otherwise secret chapters were available online during the negotiations.

During the negotiations there were only a few members of Congress who had copies of the working paper. All other congresspersons were kept from seeing any of it until late in the negotiations, and only if they were to enter the room where a copy was kept and did not exit with any recording devices — this included pen and paper.[9]

Not such high quality objections[edit]

Thankfully, all hope isn't lost — knowledgeable and erudite commenters are educating the masses on the issue as we speak:

The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade package is beginning to unravel, with more prominent voices slamming President Obama and the Republican leadership over the secretive deal that threatens to cost American jobs and hand big corporations new powers that would violate national sovereignty.
—Paul Joseph Watson, Infowars.com[10]

... Wait, that quote was from Infowars, and it didn't sound half bad. Are the cranks really agreeing with sensible people on this one?

Alex Jones[11]

Never mind. There we go. All is well.

Negotiating parties[edit]

TTIP[edit]

The European-American version of the TPP is TTIP, with similar worrying implications for Europe. Particularly troubling is the strengthening of corporate intellectual property rights, and the potential erosion of public health care in Europe, along with the not-so-troubling issue of allowing GMOs into the food supply.

Current Status[edit]

The Sentient Toupee has decided against the TPP.,[12] We'll call this a stopped clock moment on the monstrosity's part, as soon as we figure out what exactly the TPP is.

The full text of the agreement is now available to read here. As anyone who is sad enough and can be bothered to embark on the daunting task of trawling through all 30 of its chapters, (such as this contributor), will tell you that by and large the TPP is by and large neither the harbinger of destruction, many on the left think it is, nor is it the rapist of sovereign nations others on the right would have you/us believe it is. Let us take some of the supposed problems above and address each in detail.

Environmental standards and labor standards

One of the express objective of the TPP is to "to promote mutually supportive trade and environmental policies; promote high levels of environmental protection and effective enforcement of environmental laws; and enhance the capacities of the Parties to address trade-related environmental issues, including through cooperation." Given that TPP requires signatories to "strive to ensure that [their] environmental laws and policies provide for, and encourage, high levels of environmental protection and to continue to improve its respective levels of environmental protection", it becomes easy to see why Donald Trump would be against it[13]. Not that America has always been one to live up to its international obligations. *Cough, cough*, *cough, cough*, *cough, cough*. Anyhoo, each Party to the TPP is required to take measures to control the production and consumption of, and trade in, substances which can significantly deplete the Ozone Layer. That's good, right?

Now to its discredit, TPP does not mention the term "Climate Change", which has led some to regard it has toothless, (which is fair), and "a threat to communities and the environment", (which is not fair)[14].

TPP requires parties to take measures to prevent the pollution of the marine environment from ships and to publish information about how exactly it goes about doing so (Art. 20.6).

Copyright restrictions

The claim is made above that TPP provides copyright restrictions that are more stringent than existing copyright treaties. However, on inspection of the actual text[15], it is clear that TPP does not introduce any new IP rules. It merely requires signatories to, if they haven't already done so, sign up pre-existing international IP agreements, such as the Berne Convention and the Paris Convention. But let us take the example of copyright, granted, TPP increases the copyright term from "life plus 50" to "life plus 70" (Art.18.63). However, there is a caveat within the agreement that essentially means an author is normally not entitled to a longer copyright period than they would have at home, even if the laws abroad provide a longer term. The jury is still out on whether this means in any case, a copyright term cannot be shorter than "life plus 50" or "life plus 70".

External links[edit]

References[edit]