by James Corbett, The International Forecaster:
Last-minute negotiations over the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal in Atlanta this past week finally ended on Monday when trade ministers emerged with a deal. It’s a testament to the secrecy and apathy that has surrounded the entire TPP process that most people didn’t even know these negotiations were taking place, let alone that a deal was near.
Nevertheless, the completed deal is now on its way to member countries for ratification. So what is the deal? Who is behind it? Why are so many opposed to it? And what’s next? Here’s a primer on what you need to know as the TPP deal enters the home stretch.
What is it?
The TPP is a so-called “free trade agreement” that is the largest such deal since NAFTA. If ratified it will cover 12 countries, impacting over 400 million people and nearly 40% of the world’s GDP. Member nations of the TPP negotiations include Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam.
What does it do?
We do know that the TPP agreement is a 30 chapter document dealing with everything from agricultural tariffs to intellectual property to wildlife conservation to customs and financial services. It will impact the auto industry, dairy farmers, pharmaceutical companies (and their patients), even people who share files online. In short, it is a comprehensive agreement.
We do not know what the text actually says. We have a rough idea based on leaked drafts of previous negotiating texts and the pronouncements of various officials privy to the talks and the ridiculously vague summaries of the US Trade Representative and other official bodies, but the text itself has yet to be released for public consumption.
This is a reflection of the unprecedented secrecy that has shrouded these negotiations, including restricting members of US Congress’ access to the negotiating text to classified briefings and basement readings and paramilitary security with helicopter surveillance patrolling TPP summits for would-be protesters.
In a word: business. No, not mom and pop corner store business, big multinational corporate business. But you probably could have guessed as much already. After all, there’s a reason the US Business Coalition for TPP existed, let alone spent over $1.1 million buying off Congressmen ahead of the “Fast Track” trade authority vote earlier this year.
Hollywood and the MPAA can celebrate more stringent international enforcement of their “intellectual property” to bolster their failing business model. Big Pharma likewise will benefit from mores string enforcement of their patents to prevent smaller countries from selling generic copies of their signature drugs. American dairy farmers are winners, gaining greater access to Canadian markets. American manufacturers will win as relaxed rules make it even easier to ship jobs to developing Asian countries. Vietnamese manufacturers benefit from that outsourcing even as they dodge the “labor organization” bullet.
In every case, the clear common denominator is that big business is going to win big time if the deal gets through.
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