By Jueseppi B.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is being negotiated behind closed doors, in secret, so nobody actually knows whats in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). That doesn’t stop Americans from disliking it, calling it NAFTA on steroids and hating a thing nobody has yet to read. So my question is why does America hate something not one single American has read? How do you stand against a thing you can’t read for yourself, to know you stand against it?
It seems wrong to hate something that you’ve never read. Yet the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a globally significant free trade agreement being worked out in secret, is rewriting the rules in more ways than one.
The TPP is already being negotiated behind closed doors, but the situation could get worse. Late on Thursday afternoon, House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., and Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, introduced the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities Act of 2014. The bill would grant the White House fast-track authority, sometimes known as the “trade promotion authority,” to ratify trade deals.
If the bill passes, it would allow agreements like TPP to be ratified by a straight up-and-down vote, with no amendments allowed from the floor, and lawmakers would have to forgo procedural stalling tactics like the filibuster. That’s a great deal of oversight power for Congress to abdicate over a deal that not many people have even read.
Apart from a few corporations, most stakeholders and public interest groups have been unable to read the TPP drafts in full. Even those in government have complained that their staff cannot access the negotiating text. As Wisconsin Democrat Mark Pocan* said in reponse to the new bill: “Blindly approving or disapproving agreements that have largely been negotiated in secret would represent a derelict of duty for Congress. If there is nothing to hide in these agreements, we should be allowed to debate and amend these deals in the open.
Thank you Slate.com.
Here’s what Wikipedia has to tell us all about the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)
The 2005 Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement (TPSEP or P4) is a trade agreement among Brunei, Chile, New Zealand, and Singapore. It seeks to manage trade, and indirectly the economies, of the Asia-Pacific region.
Since 2010, negotiations have been taking place for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a proposal for a significantly expanded version of TPSEP. The TPP is a proposed trade agreement under negotiation by (as of August 2013) Australia, Brunei, Chile, Canada, Japan, Malaysia,Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam.
There has been criticism and protest of the negotiations from some global health experts, internet freedom activists, environmentalists, organized labor, advocacy groups and elected officials, in large part due to the secrecy of the negotiations, the expansive scope of the agreement, and controversial clauses in the drafts leaked to the public.
Leaders of TPP member states and prospective member states
at a TPP summit in 2010.
|Drafted||3 June 2005
|Signed||18 July 2005
|Location||Wellington, New Zealand|
|Effective||28 May 2006 (New Zealand and Singapore)|
|Parties||4 (Brunei, Chile, Singapore andNew Zealand)|
|Depositary||Government of New Zealand|
|Languages||English and Spanish, in event of conflict
Membership and accession
The negotiations to set up the TPSEP initially included three countries (Chile, New Zealand and Singapore), and Brunei subsequently joined the agreement. The original TPSEP agreement contains an accession clause and affirms the members’ “commitment to encourage the accession to this Agreement by other economies”.
In January 2008 the United States agreed to enter into talks with the P4 members regarding liberalization of trade in financial services. Then, on 22 September 2008, US Trade Representative Susan C. Schwab announced that the United States would begin negotiations with the P4 countries to join the TPP, with the first round of talks in early 2009.
Two years earlier, Canada became an observer in the TPP talks, and expressed interest in officially joining, but was not committed to join, purportedly because the United States and New Zealand blocked it due to concerns over Canadian agricultural policy (i.e. supply management)—specifically dairy—and intellectual property-rights protection. Several pro-business and internationalist Canadian media outlets raised concerns about this as a missed opportunity.
In a feature in the Financial Post, former Canadian trade-negotiator Peter Clark claimed that the US Obama Administration had strategically outmaneuvered the Canadian Harper Government. Wendy Dobson and Diana Kuzmanovic for The School of Public Policy, University of Calgary, argued for the economic necessity of the TPP to Canada. Embassy warned that Canada’s position in APEC could be compromised by being excluded from both the US-oriented TPP and the proposed China-oriented ASEAN +3 trade agreement (or the broader Comprehensive Economic Partnership for East Asia).
Canada and Mexico formally became TPP negotiating participants in October 2012, following completion of the domestic consultation periods of the other nine members.
Members and Potential Members
|Brunei||Original Signatory||June 2005|
|Chile||Original Signatory||June 2005|
|New Zealand||Original Signatory||June 2005|
|Singapore||Original Signatory||June 2005|
|United States||Negotiating||February 2008|
|Taiwan||Announced Interest||September 2013|
|South Korea||Announced Interest||November 2013|
The TPSEP was previously known as the Pacific Three Closer Economic Partnership (P3-CEP), its negotiations launched on the sidelines of the 2002 APEC Leaders’ Meeting in Los Cabos, Mexico, by Prime Ministers Helen Clark of New Zealand, Goh Chok Tong of Singapore and Chilean President Ricardo Lagos. Brunei first took part as a full negotiating party in the fifth round of talks in April 2005, after which the trade bloc became known as the Pacific-4 (P4). Although all original and negotiating parties are members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), the TPSEP and TPP are not APEC initiatives. However, the TPP is considered to be a pathfinder for the proposed Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific (FTAAP), an APEC initiative.
The original agreement was concluded by Brunei, Chile, New Zealand and Singapore on 3 June 2005, and entered into force on 28 May 2006 for New Zealand and Singapore, 12 July 2006 for Brunei, and 8 November 2006 for Chile. It is a comprehensive agreement, affecting trade in goods, rules of origin, trade remedies, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, technical barriers to trade, trade in services, intellectual property, government procurement and competition policy. Among other things, it called for reduction by 90 percent of all tariffs between member countries by 1 January 2006, and reduction of all trade tariffs to zero by the year 2015.
On the last day of the 2010 APEC summit, leaders of the nine negotiating countries endorsed the proposal advanced by United States president Barack Obama that set a target for settlement of negotiations by the next APEC summit in November 2011. However, negotiations have continued through 2012 and into 2013.
After the inauguration of Barack Obama in January 2009, the anticipated March 2009 negotiations were postponed. However, in his first trip to Asia in November 2009, president Obama reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and on 14 December 2009, new United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk notified Congress that president Obama planned to enter TPP negotiations “with the objective of shaping a high-standard, broad-based regional pact”.
- 1st round: 15–19 March 2010, Melbourne, Australia
- 2nd round: 14–18 June 2010, San Francisco, USA
- 3rd round: 5–8 October 2010, Brunei
- 4th round: 6–10 December 2010, Auckland, New Zealand
- 5th round: 14–18 February 2011, Santiago, Chile
- 6th round: 24 March – 1 April 2011, Singapore
- 7th round: 15–24 June 2011, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
- 8th round: 6–15 September 2011, Chicago, USA
- 9th round: 22–29 October 2011, Lima, Peru
- 10th round: 5–9 December 2011, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
- 11th round: 2–9 March 2012, Melbourne, Australia
- 12th round: 8–18 May 2012, Dallas, USA
- 13th round: 2–10 July 2012. San Diego, USA
- 14th round: 6–15 September 2012, Leesburg, Virginia, USA
- 15th round: 3–12 December 2012, Auckland, New Zealand
- 16th round: 4–13 March 2013 Singapore
- 17th round: 15–24 May 2013, Lima, Peru
- 18th round: 15–24 July 2013, Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
- 19th round: 23–30 August 2013, Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei
In the United States, the majority of so-called free trade agreements are implemented as congressional-executive agreements. Unlike treaties, congressional-executive agreements require a majority of the House and Senate to pass. Under “Trade Promotion Authority” (TPA), established by the Trade Act of 1974, Fast track (trade) Congress authorizes the President to negotiate “free trade agreements… if they are approved by both houses in a bill enacted into public law and other statutory conditions are met.”
In early 2012, the Obama administration indicated that a requirement for the conclusion of TPP negotiations is the renewal of “fast track” Trade Promotion Authority. If “fast track” is renewed, then the normal treaty ratification and implementation procedure would be bypassed, and the United States Congress would instead be required to introduce and vote on an administration-authored bill for implementing the TPP with minimal debate and no amendments, with the entire process taking no more than 90 days.
In April 2013 APEC members proposed, along with setting a possible target for settlement of the TPP by the 2013 APEC summit, that World Trade Organisation (WTO) members set a target for settlement of the Doha Round mini-package by the ninth WTO ministerial conference (MC9), also to be held around the same time in Bali.
This call for inclusion and cooperation between the WTO and economic partnership agreements (also termed regional trade agreements) like the TPP comes after the statement by Pierre Lellouche who described the sentiment of the Doha round negotiations; “Although no one wants to say it, we must call a cat a cat…”.
Intellectual property provisions
There has been criticism of some provisions relating to the enforcement of patents and copyrights alleged to be present in leaked copies of the US proposal for the agreement:
The proposals have been accused of being excessively restrictive, providing intellectual property restraints beyond those in the Korea-US trade agreement and Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA).
A number of United States Congresspeople, including Senator Bernard Sanders and Representatives Henry Waxman, Sander M. Levin, John Conyers, Jim McDermott, John Lewis, Pete Stark, Charles B. Rangel, Earl Blumenauer, and Lloyd Doggett, have expressed concerns about the effect the TPP requirements would have on access to medicine.
In particular, they are concerned that the TPP focuses on protecting intellectual property to the detriment of efforts to provide access to affordable medicine in the developing world, particularly Vietnam, going against the foreign policy goals of the Obama administration and previous administrations. Additionally, they worry that the TPP would not be flexible enough to accommodate existing non-discriminatory drug reimbursement programs and the diverse health systems of member countries.
Opponents of the Trans-Pacific Partnership say US corporations are hoping to weaken Pharmac‘s ability to get inexpensive, generic medicines by forcing New Zealand to pay for brand name drugs. Doctors and organisations like Medicins Sans Frontieres have also expressed concern. The New Zealand Government denies the claims, Trade Negotiations Minister Tim Groser saying opponents of the deal are “fools” who are “trying to wreck this agreement”.
Ken Akamatsu, creator of Love Hina and Mahou Sensei Negima!, expressed concern the agreement could decimate the derivative dōjinshi (self-published) works prevalent in Japan. Akamatsu argues that the TPP “would destroy derivative dōjinshi. And as a result, the power of the entire manga industry would also diminish.”
Kensaku Fukui, a lawyer and a Nihon University professor, expressed concerns that the TPP could allow companies to restrict or stop imports and exports of intellectual property, such as licensed merchandise. For example, IP holders could restrict or stop importers from shipping merchandise such as DVDs and other related goods related to an anime or manga property into one country to protect local distribution of licensed merchandise already in the country via local licensors.
At a NicoNico live seminar called How Would TPP Change the Net and Copyrights? An In-Depth Examination: From Extending Copyright Terms to Changing the Law to Allow Unilateral Enforcement and Statutory Damages, artist Kazuhiko Hachiya warned that cosplay could also fall under the TPP, and such an agreement could give law enforcement officials broad interpretive authority in dictating how people could dress up. Critics also have derided the agreement could also harm Japanese culture, where some segments have developed through parody works
Protests and opposition
On 5 March 2012, a group of TPP protesters disrupted an outside broadcast of 7News Melbourne’s 6 pm bulletin in Melbourne’s Federation Square.
In New Zealand a coalition of people concerned about the TPP have formed a group called It’s Our Future aimed to raise public awareness about, and resistance against the TPP prior to the Auckland round of negotiations from 3–12 December 2012.
Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz warned that the TPP presented “grave risks”. Organized labor in the United States argues that the trade deal would largely benefit big business at the expense of workers in the manufacturing and service industries. The Economic Policy Institute and the Center for Economic and Policy Research have argued that the TPP could result in further job losses and declining wages. Noam Chomsky warns that the TPP is “designed to carry forward the neoliberal project to maximize profit and domination, and to set the working people in the world in competition with one another so as to lower wages to increase insecurity.”
Ilana Solomon, Sierra Club director of responsible trade, argues that the TPP “could directly threaten our climate and our environment [including] new rights that would be given to corporations, and new constraints on the fossil fuel industry all have a huge impact on our climate, water, and land.”
A second leaked set of draft documents indicates that public concern has had little impact on the negotiations. These documents also indicate there are strong disagreements between the United States and negotiating parties on the issues of intellectual property, agricultural subsidies, and financial services.
In December 2013, 151 House Democrats signed a letter written by Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and George Miller (D-Calif.) opposing the fast tracktrade promotion authority for the TPP. Several House Republicans oppose the measure on the grounds that it empowers the executive branch. In January 2014, House Democrats refused to put forward a co-sponsor for the legislation, hampering the bill’s prospects for passage.
Again, I ask..how can one be dead set against something without having the ability to know 100% what it is you are against? I have discovered that some Americans are so against anything the U.S, government is for, that those Americans are the first ones on the front lines of protest….but what exactly are they protesting against?
A robot is one who repeats the talking points that they hear on MSNBC, CNN, Fox News (Joke Name), and the other main stream media outlets. Repeating things heard on news agencies is a big mistake. Research and investigate for yourselves then form opinions whether a thing is good or bad.
Fast tracking may upset you, but the government has fast tracked bills into laws for eons….think back to all the anti women’s rights bills fast tracked into law. Remember all the anti voter rights/voter suppression bills fast tracked into law around the United States Of America.
Now answer me how many Americans protested THOSE fast track moments.
Quit bitchin just to be bitchin, until you actually know what it is you are bitchin about….needs your bitchin.
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