TPP

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a trade and investment agreement that was concluded on 5 October 2015, after seven years of negotiation, between 12 Pacific Rim countries representing 40% of global GDP. A total of 118 side letters providing specific bilateral arrangements between some of the parties were also signed as part of the deal.

The TPP began as an agreement between the four Pacific states of Brunei Darussalam, Chile, New Zealand and Singapore. The P4 (Pacific 4), as it was then known, was signed on 3 June 2005 and came into force on 1 January 2006 as the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership.

In September 2008, the US Trade Representative announced that the US would seek entry into the P4 agreement. For Washington, the P4 offered a neoliberal agenda-friendly platform to expand US economic and strategic interests in Asia. A few months later, the governments of Australia, Peru and Vietnam announced their intention to join as well. Malaysia, Mexico, and Canada joined the negotiations in 2010, while Japan joined in 2013. The US quickly assumed leadership of the whole negotiating process.

Over the years, trade unions, advocacy groups, internet freedom activists, indigenous peoples, environmentalists, health professionals and elected officials criticised and protested against the treaty because it was designed to extend and concentrate corporate power at the expense of people’s rights.

For instance, by granting corporations and investors enormous privileges, the TPP will help to further undermine conditions and wages for workers which have already been eroded by other trade and investment agreements.

Among other controversial clauses, the chapter on intellectual property promotes the interests of monopoly rights-holding corporations, such as large pharmaceutical, major studio and record companies. Signatory states are obliged to extend 20 year drug patent protection by up to eight more years (to cover for regulatory “delays”), thus raising medicine prices and limiting access to generic drugs and treatments. TPP extends major media corporations’ copyright terms for artistic works as well.

The TPP parties have also agreed to enhance cooperation on certain activities related to agricultural biotechnology. The treaty requires member states to ratify the UPOV Convention of 1991, a kind of patent system for seeds. This will expand the market for privatised genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and hybrids, and threaten traditional seeds and knowledge.

The TPP’s chapter on regulatory coherence forces a signatory government to engage with “interested persons” when it intends to strengthen public policies. This means that companies from TPP countries will be given the ability to provide input to national policy making in other member states. Governments will also have to conduct regulatory impact assessments, justifying the “need for a regulation” and exploring “feasible alternatives” before proceeding.

Finally, TPP’s sweeping investment chapter extends transnational companies ability to challenge public policies related to health, the environment (the treaty fails to mention climate change even once) or labour. It includes the controversial investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism that allows corporations to sue a state if a new regulation hampers their expected profits or investment potentials. Of particular note, the treaty does not replace, for Canada, Mexico and the United States, the existing NAFTA, thus leaving open the prospect of investor-claimants shopping between the two treaties for the most advantageous rights.

The TPP will be signed in New Zealand on 4 February 2016. It then has to be ratified by national parliaments. The agreement will only come into force once six countries, which must represent at least 85% of the pact’s GDP, have ratified it. This means that either the Japanese Diet or the US Congress have to approve their country’s participation for the TPP to come into effect.

The text of the agreement is available here: http://www.bilaterals.org/spip.php?rubrique55.

last update: February 2016


    Links

  • AFTINET TPP campaign site
    Web page on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement maintained by the Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network
  • Flush the TPP!
    Stop the global corporate coup!
  • Help free the TPP!
    The Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement—which some have come to refer to as "NAFTA on steroids"—could ultimately affect the lives of billions of people worldwide. Neither the public, the press, nor even the US Congress knows the full extent of what’s in the text being negotiated—but corporate lobbyists know what it contains. Help us raise a reward for WikiLeaks should it publish the negotiating text of the TPP!
  • It’s our future
    Website on the implications of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement for New Zealand
  • Jane Kelsey’s TPP (US-P4+) website
    This site is intended to provide a primary resource for the negotiations of the TPP. It is maintained by Jane Kelsey, an activist and researcher in New Zealand.
  • Moana Nui 2011
    Pua Mohala I Ka Po in collaboration with the International Forum on Globalization presents an international conference on Pacific transitions: "Moana Nui: Pacific peoples, lands and economies", November 9-11, 2011 Honolulu, Hawaii
  • New Zealand Not For Sale Campaign
    An extended P4 Agreement with the US, if it becomes reality, will be a mini-MAI for New Zealand. It must be stopped, at all costs.
  • Occupy TPPA
    The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) is a mega-treaty across nine or more countries. If the negotiations succeed they will put a straightjacket on the policies and laws our government can adopt for the next century. Corporations will gain massive new powers in Australia. Help us stop the TPPA!
  • Stop TPP & TiSA
    Stop TPP & TiSA Petition / Petición contra TPP y TiSA / Pétition contre TPP et TiSA
  • Stop TPP Action
    Japanese alliance website
  • TPP Watch
    TPPWatch is a network of concerned unions, groups and individuals formed to organise and support initiatives to oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA).
  • TPP: What you don’t know will hurt you
    Site run by Public Citizen in the US
  • TPPxBorder
    Cross-border network against the Trans-Pacific Partnership
  • Trans-Pacific Partnership Digest
    The website, supported by the University of Auckland, aims to provide an easily accessible and comprehensive database of resources for researchers, activists, officials and others to encourage informed debate and critical engagement with the issues arising from the proposed TPP agreement and to influence the negotiations.
  • US-NZ Council TPP page
    Section of the UN-New Zealand Council website dedicated to the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations