We’ve complained loudly for the past several months that the content of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the 12-country trade pact that would govern 40% of the world’s economy, was secret. For all the years of negotiation, for all the people praising or denouncing it, no one actually knew what they were talking about. When TPP received fast track authority in June (Congress must approve or disapprove the deal without amendment within 90 days) not one of the Senators who voted knew what they were voting for. Well, no longer! On Nov 9, New Zealand became the first TPP country to release the agreement, followed by the US hours later. Now we can finally look at it, but the first look isn’t pretty…
Perhaps unsurprisingly, we won’t have many valuable things to add to the subject of international trade agreements. Our task in this article will be to direct you to some of the documents and opinions, both pro and con, as experts and politicians come to terms with the reality of the TPP. Keep an eye out… we have less than 90 days before Congress votes on TPP!
Let’s start with the actual TPP document. For just about anything these days, a great place to go for a general overview is Wikipedia. Their article on the Trans-Pacific Partnership tells us “The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a trade agreement among twelve Pacific Rim countries concerning a variety of matters of economic policy, about which agreement was reached on 5 October 2015 after 7 years of negotiations.” Those 7 years of negotiation were secret, but the veil was lifted on Nov 9. Slightly more in-depth than Wikipedia, but hopefully still mostly balanced, is the Guardian UK, which has a good basic orientation to the TPP here. Finally, NPR has a good story on the pros and cons of TPP.
And here, after years of lurking in the dark, is the FULL TEXT OF THE TPP.
If you don’t want to read the full 5500 pages, (and who really does?) here is a summary of the Trans-Pacific Partnership’s 30 chapters as outlined by the Office of the United States Trade Representative.
Where do the Presidential candidates stand on TPP?
Here is a detailed summary of all the Presidential Candidates positions on TPP. Below are their individual positions, along with links explaining each one. We linked to the candidates’ campaign page where possible, but sadly, most candidates chose not to address TPP as a specific issue on their sites. If there was no info there then we linked to news articles on their positions.
What are some of the analyses so far?
The release of the actual TPP text has changed few minds… the vast majority of those who favored it before still do and those who opposed it still do as well. This fact influences the way we’ve presented both sides below. While both sides now have the ammunition of specifics, we broadly found that those “in favor” didn’t fire that ammunition… they generally favor “free trade” and believe TPP advances that goal, but didn’t offer any specifics from the new text to bolster their position. On the other hand, those “opposed” found plenty of specifics to illustrate that TPP is exactly what they’ve dreaded all along. On the “pro” side we’ve presented the most representative quote we could find from each organization. On the “con” side, we presented general evaluations as well as some of their specifics if available. All groups are linked so you can get their position directly from them.
All IN FAVOR say “aye”
“The TPP will have a profound impact on how we help small businesses expand, how we support online entrepreneurs who are just getting off the ground, how we promote gender equality for women, how we invest in the developing world, how we protect our most endangered species, and how we make great progress in the fight for human rights.”
“TPP will make it easier for American entrepreneurs, farmers, and small business owners to sell Made-In-America products abroad by eliminating more than 18,000 taxes & other trade barriers on American products across the 11 other countries in the TPP—barriers that put American products at an unfair disadvantage today.”
“Drawing on ALEC’s guiding free market principles, this resolution calls on Congress to support negotiations for a high standard, comprehensive Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The TPP is a multilateral trade framework currently being negotiated by nations on both sides of the Pacific. These nations are at varying levels of development and the agreement has the flexibility to expand to accept new members. The TPP has the potential to become the benchmark against which future trade frameworks will be measured for years to come.”
“It is critical that the United States helps define how the world does business in the future. The TPP is the most expansive trade agreement the United States has negotiated in two decades, and was initiated to address many of the challenges and barriers unique to today’s global economy. The final agreement is worthy of serious review and understanding. If it meets our high expectations, it has tremendous potential to help improve America’s competitiveness and create a more level playing field for our industries and workers.”
“Now that the final trade agreement is available for everyone to review, it’s clear the TPP not only contains the strongest protections for American workers, wages, and the environment of any trade agreement in history — it positions our nation and our workers to compete in the global economy. We look forward to a robust discussion on the merits of this deal in the weeks and months ahead.”
“We are TPP enthusiasts. The benefits of TPP could be substantial for New Zealand. TPP stands to create our largest free trade area. It could transform the way we business in the Asia-Pacific region, and help build growth and jobs.”
All OPPOSED say “nay”
Our favorite pundit Thom Hartmann digs into the details of TPP with a panel of guests…
“With the details of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) no longer secret Thom discusses what’s in the trade deal with Public Citizen’s Melinda St. Louis, radio host and author Ari Rabin-Havt, and the U.S. Business and Industry Council’s Kevin Kearns”
- Lax rules on importation of foreign-made autos and auto parts into the United States.
- False expectations for labor and environmental enforcement among trading partners.
- A failure to address Value Added Taxes (VAT).
- A complete disregard by President Obama of bipartisan Congressional instructions to address currency manipulation on the part of America’s trading partners.
- The TPP offers no real benefit for the U.S. economy.
- The TPP’s complex series of rules and regulations serve to benefit each country’s “national champion” companies and industries, with the big winners in the U.S. being the major Wall Street banks, insurance companies, and multinational manufacturer-outsourcers.
(Long-form interview on Free Speech Radio news)
“I’d say, upon reading the text this morning, I was shocked by not surprised. We’ve been concerned about the TPP for years and now that we can actually read the text, it’s clear why it was kept in secret for so long. Particularly the intellectual property chapter reads like a laundry list of demands from unpopular industries, where they’re pushing for policies that they know they could never get through if they were done through traditional political means or in the light of day. So from our perspective, the TPP poses a grave threat to people’s online freedom of speech, access to information, and basic things like access to medicine and affordable healthcare. And we’re very concerned, not only about the outcome, but about the process.”
17 page document with initial findings from TPP text. Includes specific critiques of
- Market Access
- Rules of Origin
- Food Safety
- State-Owned Enterprises
- Various Chapters
“Our analysis here is limited to the copyright and Internet-related provisions of the chapter, but analyses of the impacts of other parts of the chapter have been published by Wikileaks and others.”
Binding Rightsholders Rules vs. Soft User Guidelines
Expansion of Copyright Terms
Ban on Circumventing Digital Rights Management
Criminal Enforcement and Civil Damages
Top-Down Control of the Internet
“Civil society is going through the text with a fine-toothed comb to uncover provisions that threaten the rights, freedoms and the well-being of the participating countries’ citizens. The following is a compendium of the analysis we have found to date. We will be updating as regularly as more details become available.” Includes chapters on…
Investor-State Dispute Settlement
Temporary Entry for Business Persons
Report by Goodman and Gonzalez on Democracy NOW
Multilateral Environmental Agreements Rollback
Weak Conservation Rules
Climate Change Omission
Lack of Enforcement
New Rights for Fossil Fuel Corporations to Challenge Climate Protections
Locking in Natural Gas Exports and Fracking
“While NFU will continue to analyze the text of the agreement, we already know TPP includes no enforceable language to address currency manipulation, an effective maneuver used by our competitors to immediately tilt the playing field in their favor, even after signing an agreement of this scope and magnitude, having the potential to completely wipe out any gains… If we enter this agreement, our trade deficit, already exceeding $500 billion per year, will continue to rise, not fall. This enormous deficit will continue to drag down our economy, export even more US jobs and dash the hopes for coming generations.”
Abby McGill, Campaigns Director, International Labor Rights Forum
“The agreement makes no progress on enforcement, ignoring common-sense proposals like requiring the parties to conduct timely, impartial investigations of allegations of non-compliance and firm deadlines for implementing necessary reforms.
Requests to prohibit the trade of goods made with forced or child labor and to establish mechanisms to seize such goods at the border came out with the TPP merely “discouraging” trade in goods made with these egregious human rights violations.
Requests to include protections for migrant workers, such as regulating labor recruiters or prohibiting confiscation of passports, were wholly ignored, despite well-documented, systemic exploitation of migrant workers in a number of TPP countries.”
Includes response to full text from many environmental groups, including
Defenders of Wildlife
Natural Resources Defense Council
Environmental Investigation Agency
Center for International Environmental Law
Friends of the Earth
Food & Water Watch
Oil Cange International
US Climate Plan
Center for Biological Diversity