Nine thoughts on the TPP agreement being reached today


05 October 2015

1. Stepping back from details, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is the biggest trade deal in a generation and part of the same 'new generation' of trade deals as TTIP. There are 12 countries involved across the Pacific Rim, including the USA, Japan, Canada and Australia.

2. Like TTIP, it goes well beyond 'trade' in the narrow sense – its primary purpose is to rewrite global economic rules in favour of capital - and not just for the countries involved. Other countries already want to come on board. This is a less democratic version of the World Trade Organization and affects everyone. So it's a very big deal. Campaigns against it have been huge and countries themselves have had serious political difficulties in getting to this point. So it shows that there’s a big battle now to stop it from being ratified.

3. It's also about power and geopolitics between countries. The US is trying to curtail China's power and make sure that it’s the US that sets rules. TPP 'contains' China.

4. Of particular worry is the corporate court system – the Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) that will lead to a massive increase in governments being sued by corporations. Campaigns on TPP means that it looks like the tobacco sector has been excluded from ISDS, but that's just a symbol. Corporations would be able to threaten governments across 40% of global economy now.

5. Big Pharma has played a big role in pushing for TPP. They’re desperate to extend monopoly power over drugs by extending patents to US standards, which would make them unaffordable for millions of people. It's been beaten back - but still looks likely to make things worse in most countries.

6. Corporations are also trying to expand power over the Internet and use of your data by setting global rules to their advantage. The data rights movement have been up in arms about it.

7. Farming standards – TPP would make it more difficult for small farmers to stand up to big agrobusiness as they have to compete directly.

8. Despite talk of improving labour standards, like most trade agreements TPP would send work to where it can be done cheaper, resulting in a classic ‘race to the bottom’ and offshoring jobs

9. All this has made TPP very controversial, especially amongst the Democrats. And that means that there is fertile ground to also sow the seeds of doubt about TTIP.

But it’s not over and we shouldn’t lose hope!

  • TPP needs to go to the US Congress in coming months. Once they read the actual text (which has been secret until now) more will turn against It. They can defeat it - but they can’t amend it.
  • Both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders have voiced their opposition to the deal, which shows what a political tightrope the deal would be walking in order to be passed.
  • The Canadian elections are coming up, and the opposition party says it won't feel bound to sign it.

So it can still be stopped, and the agreement today will galvanise opposition against it.  While ratification would strengthen the hand of those pushing for TTIP, failure would threaten it. There’s still everything to play for!

Photo credit: Flickr/Sum Of Us

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