Trans-Pacific Partnership

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Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement
Leaders of TPP member states.jpg
Leaders of prospective member states at a TPP summit in 2010
Type Trade agreement
Drafted 5 October 2015[1][2][3]
Signed not signed
Effective not in force
Condition Ratification by all signatories, or (2 years after signature) Ratification states corresponding to 85% of GDP of signatories
Depositary New Zealand
Languages English (prevailing in case of divergence), Spanish and French
Trans-Pacific Partnership at Wikisource

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a trade agreement among twelve Pacific Rim countries concerning a variety of matters of economic policy, which was reached on 5 October 2015 after 7 years of negotiations. The agreement's stated goal had been to "promote economic growth; support the creation and retention of jobs; enhance innovation, productivity and competitiveness; raise living standards; reduce poverty in our countries; and promote transparency, good governance, and enhanced labor and environmental protections."[4] Among other things, the TPP Agreement contains measures to lower trade barriers such as tariffs,[5] and establish an investor-state dispute settlement mechanism (but states can opt out from tobacco-related measures).[4][6] The United States government has considered the TPP as the companion agreement to the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), a broadly similar agreement between the United States and the European Union.[7]

Historically, the TPP is an expansion of the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement (TPSEP or P4), which was signed by Brunei, Chile, New Zealand, and Singapore in 2005. Beginning in 2008, additional countries joined the discussion for a broader agreement: Australia, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, the United States, and Vietnam, bringing the total number of participating countries in the negotiations to twelve.

Participating nations aimed at completing negotiations in 2012, but contentious issues such as agriculture, intellectual property, and services and investments caused negotiations to continue.[8] They finally reached agreement on 5 October 2015.[9] Implementing the TPP has been one of the trade agenda goals of the Obama administration in the US.[10] On 5 October 2015 Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper expected "signatures on the finalized text and deal early in the new year, and ratification over the next two years."[11] A version of the text of the treaty "Subject to Legal Review (...) for Accuracy, Clarity and Consistency"[12] was made public on 5 November 2015, the same day President Obama notified Congress that he intends to sign it.[13]

A number of global health professionals, internet freedom activists, environmentalists, organised labour, advocacy groups, and elected officials have criticized and protested against the treaty, in large part because of the secrecy of negotiations, the agreement's expansive scope, and controversial clauses in drafts leaked to the public.[14][15][16][17][18]


Twelve countries participated in negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement: the four parties to the 2005 Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement in 2006, and eight others.

  Reached conclusion on content
  Announced interest in joining
  Potential future members
Country/region Status 2005 agreement Status TPP Start of TPP
 Singapore Party (28 May 2006) Agreement reached February 2008
 Brunei Party (28 May 2006) Agreement reached February 2008
 New Zealand Party (12 July 2006) Agreement reached February 2008
 Chile Party (8 November 2006) Agreement reached February 2008
 United States Non-party Agreement reached February 2008
 Australia Non-party Agreement reached November 2008
 Peru Non-party Agreement reached November 2008
 Vietnam Non-party Agreement reached November 2008
 Malaysia Non-party Agreement reached October 2010
 Mexico Non-party Agreement reached October 2012
 Canada[19] Non-party Agreement reached October 2012
 Japan Non-party Agreement reached May 2013

Potential members[edit]

The accession of other parties to the agreement is possible for APEC members and any other jurisdiction the parties reach agreement on. After application for membership a commission of parties to the treaty negotiates conditions for accession.

South Korea did not participate in the 2006 agreement, but showed interest in entering the TPP,[20] and in December 2010 was invited to the TPP negotiating rounds by the U.S. after the successful conclusion of its Free trade agreement between the United States of America and the Republic of Korea.[21] South Korea already had bilateral trade agreements with some TPP members, but areas such as vehicle manufacturing and agriculture still needed to be agreed upon, making further multilateral TPP negotiations somewhat complicated.[22] South Korea may join the TPP as part of a second wave of expansion for the trade agreement.[23]

Other countries interested in TPP membership have included Taiwan,[24] the Philippines,[25] and Colombia,[26] as of 2010, Thailand[27] and Laos[28] as of 2012, Indonesia,[29] Cambodia,[30] Bangladesh,[31] and India[32] as of 2013. According to law professor Edmund Sim in 2013, many of these countries needed to change their protectionist trade policies in order to join the TPP.[33]

The largest economy in the Pacific Rim not involved in the negotiations is China. According to the Brookings Institution in 2013, the most fundamental challenge for the TPP project regarding China was that "it may not constitute a powerful enough enticement to propel China to sign on to these new standards on trade and investment. China so far has reacted by accelerating its own trade initiatives in Asia."[34] In 2013 it was thought that China might still be interested in joining the TPP eventually.[35] An academic analysis has shown that while the TPP would be more successful if China participated in it, the benefits to China are intangible.[36]

In October 2015 Indonesian President Joko Widodo declared Indonesia's intention to join the TPP.[37]

Country/region Status 2005 agreement Status TPP Announced Interest
 Colombia Non-party Announced Interest January 2010
 Philippines Non-party Announced Interest September 2010
 Thailand Non-party Announced Interest November 2012
 Taiwan Non-party Announced Interest September 2013
 South Korea Non-party Announced Interest November 2013
 Indonesia Non-party Declared Intent to Join[37] October 2015


Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement[edit]

Brunei, Chile, Singapore and New Zealand are parties to the Transpacific Economic Partnership Agreement, which was signed in 2005, and entered into force in 2006. The original TPSEP agreement contains an accession clause and affirms the members' "commitment to encourage the accession to this Agreement by other economies".[38][39] 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.[40]

Although original and negotiating parties are members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), the TPSEP is not an APEC initiative. However, the TPP is considered to be a pathfinder for the proposed Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific (FTAAP), an APEC initiative.

Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations[edit]

In January 2008, the U.S. agreed to enter into talks with the Pacific 4 (P4) members regarding trade liberalisation in financial services.[41] This led to 19 formal negotiation rounds, then a series of other meetings, such as Chief Negotiators Meetings and Ministers Meetings, leading to the agreement that was announced on 5 October 2015. For details on the negotiations process, see Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations.


A version of the text of the agreement "subject to legal review" was released by prospective member parties on November 5, 2015.[42] Portions of drafts of the full agreement were previously leaked to the public.[43] Many of the provisions in the leaked documents are modeled on previous trade and deregulation agreements.[citation needed]

U.S. Trade Representative's summary[edit]

According to the United States Trade Representative, the TPP agreement includes the following features:

  • "Comprehensive market access. The TPP eliminates or reduces tariff and non-tariff barriers across substantially all trade in goods and services and covers the full spectrum of trade, including goods and services trade and investment, so as to create new opportunities and benefits for our businesses, workers, and consumers.
  • Regional approach to commitments. The TPP facilitates the development of production and supply chains, and seamless trade, enhancing efficiency and supporting our goal of creating and supporting jobs, raising living standards, enhancing conservation efforts, and facilitating cross-border integration, as well as opening domestic markets.
  • Addressing new trade challenges. The TPP promotes innovation, productivity, and competitiveness by addressing new issues, including the development of the digital economy, and the role of state-owned enterprises in the global economy.
  • Inclusive trade. The TPP includes new elements that seek to ensure that economies at all levels of development and businesses of all sizes can benefit from trade. It includes commitments to help small- and medium-sized businesses understand the Agreement, take advantage of its opportunities, and bring their unique challenges to the attention of the TPP governments. It also includes specific commitments on development and trade capacity building, to ensure that all Parties are able to meet the commitments in the Agreement and take full advantage of its benefits.
  • Platform for regional integration. The TPP is intended as a platform for regional economic integration and designed to include additional economies across the Asia-Pacific region."[4]

The TPP agreement includes 30 chapters: Initial Provisions and General Definitions, Trade in Goods, Textiles and Apparel, Rules of Origin, Customs Administration and Trade Facilitation, Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures, Technical Barriers to Trade, Trade Remedies, Investment, Cross-Border Trade in Services, Financial Services, Temporary Entry for Business Persons, Telecommunications, Electronic Commerce, Government Procurement, Competition Policy, State-Owned Enterprises and Designated Monopolies, Intellectual Property, Labour, Environment, Cooperation and Capacity Building, Competitiveness and Business Facilitation, Development, Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises, Regulatory Coherence, Transparency and Anti-Corruption, Administrative and Institutional Provisions, Dispute Settlement, Exceptions, Final Provisions.[4]

Tariffs & other barriers[edit]

The agreement would reduce 18,000 tariffs. Tariffs on all U.S. manufactured goods and almost all U.S. farm products would be eliminated completely, with most eliminations occurring immediately.[44]

In addition, the agreement mandates expedited customs procedures for express shipments and prohibits customs duties from being applied to electronic transmissions. It also requires additional privacy, security, and consumer protections for online transactions and encourages the publication of online customs forms. These provisions are expected to be particularly beneficial to small businesses.[44]

Intellectual property provisions[edit]

The intellectual property section of a leaked draft of the TPP lays out a minimum level of protections signators must enforce for trademarks, copyright, and patents. Trademarks may be visual, auditory or scents, and are granted exclusive use for trade. Copyright is granted at a length of life of author plus 70 years, and makes willful circumvention of protections (such as Digital Rights Management) illegal. The TPP also establishes that "making available" is the exclusive right of the copyright owner.[citation needed]

As of December 2011 some provisions relating to the enforcement of patents and copyrights alleged to be present in the US proposal for the agreement had been criticised as being excessively restrictive, beyond those in the Korea–US trade agreement and Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA).[45][46]

WikiLeaks has published draft documents on a regular basis since 2013: On 13 November 2013, it published a complete draft of the treaty's Intellectual Property Rights Chapter.[47][48] On 16 October 2014, it released a second updated version of the TPP Intellectual Property Rights Chapter.[49] On 9 October 2015, WikiLeaks published the final TPP Intellectual Property chapter.

Investor–state arbitration (ISDS)[edit]

Investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) is an instrument of public international law, that grants an investor the right to use dispute settlement proceedings against a foreign government.

According to The Nation's interpretation of leaked documents in 2012, countries would be required to conform their domestic laws and regulations to the TPP Agreement, which includes provisions on government spending in certain areas[50] As of 2012, US negotiators were pursuing an investor-state dispute settlement mechanism, also known as corporate tribunals, which according to The Nation can be used to "attack domestic public interest laws".[50] This mechanism, a common provision in international trade and investment agreements, grants an investor the right to initiate dispute settlement proceedings against a foreign government in their own right under international law. For example, if an investor invests in country "A", a member of a trade treaty, and country A breaches that treaty, then the investor may sue country A's government for the breach.[51] In 2013, the Australian government's position against investor state dispute settlement has been argued to support the rule of law and national energy security.[52]

On 26 March 2015 WikiLeaks released a draft of the TPP's Investment Chapter,[53] according to which global corporations could sue governments in tribunals organized by the World Bank or the United Nations to obtain compensation from them for loss of expected future profits due to government actions.[54]

In April 2015 the director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, Lori Wallach, said

“We consider it inappropriate to elevate an individual investor or company to equal status with a nation state to privately enforce a public treaty between two sovereign countries", … “[ISDS] gives extraordinary new privileges and powers and rights to just one interest. Foreign investors are privileged vis-a-vis domestic companies, vis-a-vis the government of a country, [and] vis-a-vis other private sector interests",
"... the basic reality of ISDS: it provides foreign investors alone access to non-U.S. courts to pursue claims against the U.S. government on the basis of broader substantive rights than U.S. firms are afforded under U.S. law".[55]

On 5 October 2015 economists Joseph Stiglitz and Adam S. Hersh questioned the ISDS provisions of the TPP. "To be sure", they wrote, "investors — wherever they call home — deserve protection from expropriation or discriminatory regulations. But ISDS goes much further: The obligation to compensate investors for losses of expected profits can and has been applied even where rules are nondiscriminatory and profits are made from causing public harm. ... Imagine what would have happened if these provisions had been in place when the lethal effects of asbestos were discovered. Rather than shutting down manufacturers and forcing them to compensate those who had been harmed, under ISDS, governments would have had to pay the manufacturers not to kill their citizens. Taxpayers would have been hit twice — first to pay for the health damage caused by asbestos, and then to compensate manufacturers for their lost profits when the government stepped in to regulate a dangerous product."[56]

Stiglitz also claimed that the TPP would give oil companies the right to sue governments for loss of profits due to efforts to reduce carbon emissions and global warming.[57]

The Australian plain packaging laws have inspired similar bills in New Zealand and other countries worldwide, despite constant opposition from the Australian tobacco industry on the grounds of intellectual property, technical barriers to trade, best practices of regulation etc. As far back as 2013, it has been argued that embedding these principles in the TPP will allow the tobacco industry in many countries to have more power.[58] In October 2015, it was announced that ISDS laws would not apply to tobacco industries.[59]


Joshua Meltzer of the Brookings Institution, an American think tank, gave testimony to the House Small Business Committee on the implications of the TPP. During the hearing, entitled "U.S. Trade Strategy: What's Next for Small Business Exports?", Meltzer stated that as of 2012 the Asia-Pacific region accounted for 60 percent of global GDP and 50 percent of international trade, and is the fastest growing region in the world. The Brookings Institution estimated in 2012 that TPP would generate $5 billion in economic benefits to the U.S. in 2015, and $14 billion in 2025. The economic benefits would likely be larger if the impact of investment liberalization under TPP were also considered. The TPP should generate growth opportunities for small and medium business exporters in the US, which represented 40 percent of U.S. goods exports as of 2012. Small businesses tend to benefit disproportionately from trade liberalization, since they are less likely than large enterprises to establish overseas subsidiaries to overcome trade barriers. The TPP will also help counter the trend toward greater economic integration, which excludes the US, in the Asia-Pacific region. For example, ASEAN already has free trade agreements with China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand, and the U.S. has been excluded from economic cooperation among ASEAN + 3 (ASEAN, China, Japan, South Korea).[60]

CNN reported that one goal of TPP is to neutralize China's power in global trading and make American companies more competitive.[citation needed] In May 2013, China showed an interest in joining TPP and may see it as an opportunity for its slowing economy.[61]

According to the New York Times, "the clearest winners of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement would be American agriculture, along with technology and pharmaceutical companies, insurers and many large manufacturers" who could expand exports to the other nations that have signed the treaty.[62]

Along with the TPP, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) has been a possible pathway to a free trade area of the Asia-Pacific, and a contribution to building momentum for global trade reform. Both the RCEP and TPP have involved negotiations with multiple parties and sectors.[63]

Domestic approval[edit]

The text of the agreement will have to be signed and ratified, according to the national procedures of the countries concerned. On 5 October 2015 Canadian prime minister Harper indicated he expected "signatures on the finalized text and deal early in the new year, and ratification over the next two years."[11]

United States[edit]

US House Vote on the Trade Promotion Authority Bill, 18 June 2015

As of 2013, the majority of United States free trade agreements were implemented as congressional-executive agreements.[64] Unlike treaties, such agreements require a majority of the House and Senate to pass.[64] Under trade promotion authority (TPA) , established by the Trade Act of 1974, 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."[64] In early 2012, the Obama administration indicated that a requirement for the conclusion of TPP negotiations was the renewal of TPA.[65] This required the United States Congress 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.[66]

In December 2013, 151 House Democrats signed a letter written by Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and George Miller (D-CA), which opposed the fast track trade promotion authority for the TPP. Several House Republicans opposed the measure on the grounds that it empowered 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.[67]

On 16 April 2015, several U.S. Senators introduced "The Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015", which is commonly known as TPA Fast-track legislation.[68] The bill passed the Senate on 21 May 2015, by a vote of 62 to 38, with 31 Democrats, five Republicans and both Independents opposing.[69][70] The bill went to the U.S. House of Representatives, which narrowly passed the bill 218-208, and also removed the Trade Adjustment Assistance portions of the Senate bill.[71] The TPA was passed by the Senate on 24 June 2015, without the TAA provisions, requiring only the signature of the President before becoming law.[72][73] President Obama expressed a desire to sign the TPA and TAA together,[74] and did sign both into law on 29 June, as the TAA was able to make its way through congress in a separate bill.[75] This final approval to legislation granted President Obama "enhanced power to negotiate major trade agreements with Asia and Europe." Through the TPA, Obama could "submit trade deals to Congress for an expedited vote without amendments."[72] The successful conclusion of these bilateral talks was necessary before the other ten TPP members could complete the trade deal.[76]

The terms of the TPA stipulate that when a deal is formally submitted to Congress, they must act within 90 legislative days. According to Politico, many expect Congress to vote on the bill either during the Summer of 2016 or in the lame-duck session after the 2016 elections.[77]

Non-TPP party opinions[edit]

On 30 January 2015 Philip Hammond, the Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom, described the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership as "potentially important liberalising steps forward".[78]

The European Centre for International Political Economy (ECIPE), a think tank on European policies, predicted in 2012 that the TPP would be a ‘deadly threat to European exporters of agricultural products in TPP countries’.[79]

ECIPE has said in 2014 that TPP "will be the first ‘competing’ economic integration that is large enough to have a considerable negative impact on Europe. In the long-term, the negative effects will come from dynamic impact, e.g. on investment, productivity and competitiveness".[80] Pascal Lamy, called the TPP ‘the last of big old-style trade agreements’.[80]:2

Points of contention within the agreement[edit]

Causes of delays[edit]

Exposure by Wikileaks of the Intellectual Property Rights and Environmental chapters of the TPP revealed "just how far apart the US is from the other nations involved in the treaty, with 19 points of disagreement in the area of intellectual property alone. One of the documents speaks of 'great pressure' being applied by the US." Australia in particular opposes the US's proposals for copyright protection and an element supported by all other nations involved to "limit the liability of ISPs for copyright infringement by their users." Another sticking point lies with Japan's reluctance to open up its agricultural markets.[81]

Political difficulties, particularly those related to the passage of a Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) by the U.S. Congress, presented another hold on the TPP negotiations. Receiving TPA from Congress was looking especially difficult for Obama since members of his own Democratic Party are against it, while Republicans generally support the trade talks. "The TPP and TPA pose a chicken-and-egg situation for Washington. Congress needs to pass TPA to bring the TPP negotiations to fruition, but the Obama administration must win favorable terms in the TPP to pull TPA legislation through Congress. Simply put, the administration cannot make Congress happy, unless it can report on the excellent terms that it has coaxed out of Japan.".[82] Obama received Trade Promotion Authority on 29 June 2015.

Requests to include currency manipulation counter measures[edit]

A country can devalue its currency to boost exports and gain a trade advantage. One effect of the United States Quantitative Easing policy was the devaluation of the U.S. dollar, which aided economic growth in that country. Many economists claim that currency manipulation by Asian manufacturing countries has become pervasive, "allowing them to boost their exports at the expense of manufacturing companies in the United States and Europe." Furthermore, organisations such as the WTO or IMF cannot control such currency manipulation, so some are calling upon the U.S. to "use the free-trade talks to force an end to such actions." Senator Lindsey O. Graham and Representative Sander M. Levin "gathered a group of economists, manufacturing industry officials and labor leaders who agreed that the TPP should die unless it credibly prohibits countries from manipulating the value of their currency."[83]

United States-Japan bilateral accords (agriculture and auto)[edit]

Before Japan entered TPP negotiations in July 2013, reports indicated that it would allow the U.S. to continue imposing tariffs on Japanese vehicles, despite a "major premise of the TPP [being] to eliminate all tariffs in principle." According to the reports, Japan compromised on auto tariffs "because Tokyo wants to maintain tariffs on various agricultural products."[84]

By April 2015 U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Michael Froman and Japanese Economy Minister Akira Amari—representing the two largest economies of the 12-nation TPP— were involved in bilateral talks regarding agriculture and auto parts, the "two largest obstacles for Japan."[76] These bilateral accords which would open each other's "markets for products such as rice, pork and automobiles.[76] In Japan "rice, wheat, barley, beef, pork, dairy goods, sugar and starch crops are considered politically sensitive products that have to be protected."[76] During the two-day ministerial TPP negotiating session held in Singapore in May 2015, the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) and veteran negotiator, Wendy Cutler, and Oe Hiroshi of the Japanese Gaimusho held bilateral trade talks regarding one of the most contentious trade issues— automobiles. American negotiators wanted the Japanese to open their entire keiretsu structure which is the corner stone of Japanese economy and society to American automobiles. They wanted Japanese dealer networks, such as Toyota, Nissan, Honda, Mitsubishi, and Mazda, to sell American cars.[85] Oe Hiroshi responded that there are fewer American car dealerships in Japan because Japanese consumers prefer European and Japanese cars to American cars.[85] Different vehicle safety program structures also complicate efforts at reciprocal recognition; in Japan and Europe, new vehicles are compliance-tested before they're allowed on the market. Under American laws, automakers self-certify their cars as compliant, and cars are tested only after they go on sale.[86] Nevertheless, as of November 2015 an agreement was released whereby Japan will recognize seven U.S. vehicle safety standards as no less stringent than Japanese national standards:[87] those for front and rear collision, flammability of interior materials, license plate lights, interior rearview mirror impact absorption, and windshield wiping, washing, and defogging systems.[88]

During the late July 2015 negotiations held in Maui, Hawaii, the U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman brokered an unanticipated North American-Japan side-deal with Japan, on behalf of the U.S., Canada and Mexico that "lowered the threshold" for how much of an automobile "would have to come from Trans-Pacific signatory countries" in order for it to avoid hefty tariffs when entering Canada, Mexico or the United States. This percentage dropped from 62.5 per cent under the current North American Free Trade Agreement, to somewhere between 30 per cent and 55 per cent under the July side deal.[89] Canada and Mexico are concerned that this unexpected side deal "could hit the NAFTA partners’ auto sectors hard."[89]


Secrecy of negotiations[edit]

In 2012, critics such as Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch, a consumer advocacy group, called for more open negotiations in regard to the agreement. U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk responded that he believes the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) conducted "the most engaged and transparent process as we possibly could", but that "some measure of discretion and confidentiality" are needed "to preserve negotiating strength and to encourage our partners to be willing to put issues on the table they may not otherwise."[90] He dismissed the "tension" as natural and noted that when the Free Trade Area of the Americas drafts were released, negotiators were subsequently unable to reach a final agreement.[90]

On 23 May 2012, United States Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced S. 3225, which would have required the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative to disclose its TPP documents to all members of Congress.[91] If it had passed, Wyden said that S3225 would clarify the intent of 2002 legislation. That legislation was supposed to increase Congressional access to information about USTR activity; however, according to Wyden, the bill is being incorrectly interpreted by the USTR as a justification to excessively limit such access.[92] Wyden said:

The majority of Congress is being kept in the dark as to the substance of the TPP negotiations, while representatives of U.S. corporations—like Halliburton, Chevron, PHRMA, Comcast, and the Motion Picture Association of America—are being consulted and made privy to details of the agreement. […] More than two months after receiving the proper security credentials, my staff is still barred from viewing the details of the proposals that USTR is advancing. We hear that the process by which TPP is being negotiated has been a model of transparency. I disagree with that statement.[92]

In 2013, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass) and Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) were among a group of individuals[17] who criticized the Obama administration's secrecy policies on the Trans-Pacific Pact.[17][93][94]

A 2015 round of negotiations was scheduled for Vancouver, Canada, but two weeks before the commencement date, Ottawa, was selected as the new meeting venue and inquiries from public interest groups about attending this round were ignored.[95]

In December 2014 Senator (I-VT) Bernie Sanders denounced the TPP:

Let’s be clear: the TPP is much more than a “free trade” agreement. It is part of a global race to the bottom to boost the profits of large corporations and Wall Street by outsourcing jobs; undercutting worker rights; dismantling labor, environmental, health, food safety and financial laws; and allowing corporations to challenge our laws in international tribunals rather than our own court system. If TPP was such a good deal for America, the administration should have the courage to show the American people exactly what is in this deal, instead of keeping the content of the TPP a secret.[96]

Michael R. Wessel, former commissioner on the U.S. Trade Deficit Review Commission said in May 2015 that “cleared advisors” like himself were "prohibited from sharing publicly the criticisms we’ve lodged about specific proposals and approaches". He said that only portions of the text had been provided, "to be read under the watchful eye of a USTR official", that access on secure government-run website did not contain the most-up-to-date information, and that for cleared advisors to get that information, he had "to travel to certain government facilities and sign in to read the materials" and "even then, the administration determines what we can and cannot review and, often, they provide carefully edited summaries rather than the actual underlying text, which is critical to really understanding the consequences of the agreement."[97]

In June 2015, Senator (R-KY) Rand Paul opposed fast-tracking the TPP bill on the basis of secrecy. Paul explained that fast-tracking the secret trade partnership would "give the permission to do something you haven’t seen", which he likened to "[putting] the cart before the horse."[98]

Intellectual property[edit]

The Electronic Frontier Foundation[46] has been highly critical of the leaked draft chapter on intellectual property covering copyright, trademarks, and patents. In the US, this is likely to further entrench controversial aspects of US copyright law (such as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act) and restrict the ability of Congress to engage in domestic law reform to meet the evolving IP needs of American citizens and the innovative technology sector. Standardization of copyright provisions by other signatories would also require significant changes to other countries’ copyright laws. These, according to EFF, include obligations for countries to expand copyright terms, restrict fair use, adopt criminal sanctions for copyright infringement that is done without a commercial motivation (ex. file sharing of copyrighted digital media), place greater liability on internet intermediaries, escalate protections for digital locks and create new threats for journalists and whistleblowers (because of vague text on the misuse of trade secrets).[46]

Both the copyright term expansion and the non-complaint provision (i.e. competent authorities may initiate legal action without the need for a formal complaint) previously failed to pass in Japan because they were so controversial.[99] A group of artists, archivists, academics, and activists, have joined forces in Japan to call on their negotiators to oppose requirements in the TPP that would require their country to expand their copyright scope and length to match the United States' of copyright.[99] Ken Akamatsu, creator of Japanese manga series 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."[100]

Cost of medicine[edit]

A June 2015 article in the New England Journal of Medicine summarized concerns about TPP's impact on healthcare in developed and less developed countries including potentially increased prices of medical drugs due to patent extensions, which it claimed, could threaten millions of lives. Extending “data exclusivity” provisions would "prevent drug regulatory agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration from registering a generic version of a drug for a certain number of years." International tribunals that have been a part of the proposed agreement could theoretically require corporations be paid compensation for any lost profits found to result from a nation's regulations. That in turn might interfere with domestic health policy.[101] A number of United States Congressional members,[102] including Senator Bernard Sanders[103] and Representatives Sander M. Levin, John Conyers, Jim McDermott and the now-retired Henry Waxman, as well as [104] John Lewis, Charles B. Rangel, Earl Blumenauer, Lloyd Doggett and then-congressman Pete Stark,[105] have expressed concerns about access to medicine. By protecting intellectual property in the form of the TPP mandating patent extensions, access by patients to affordable medicine in the developing world could be hindered, particularly in Vietnam.[102] 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.[105]

When a deal was reached in early October 2015, United States and Australia had negotiated a compromise on the length of the monopoly period on next-generation biotech drugs down from twelve years requested by the U.S. to "a minimum period of 5 years and up to a minimum of 8 years."[106]

Opponents of the Trans-Pacific Partnership in New Zealand say U.S. corporations are hoping to weaken the ability of its domestic agency Pharmac to get inexpensive, generic medicines by forcing it to otherwise pay considerably higher prices for brand name drugs.[107] Physicians and organizations including Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) have also expressed concern.[108]

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".[109]

In Australia, critics of the investment protection regime argue that traditional investment treaty standards are incompatible with some public health regulations, meaning that the TPP will be used to force states to adopt lower standards, e.g.,  with respect to patented pharmaceuticals.[110] The Australian Public Health Association (PHAA) published a media release on 17 February 2014 that discussed the potential impact of the TPP on the health of Australia's population. A policy brief formulated through a collaboration between academics and non-government organizations (NGOs) was the basis of the media release, with the partnership continuing its Health Impact Assessment of the trade agreement at the time of the PHAA's statement. Michael Moore, the PHAA's CEO said, "The brief highlights the ways in which some of the expected economic gains from the TPPA may be undermined by poor health outcomes, and the economic costs associated with these poor health outcomes."[111]

Former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich has opposed the TPP because he says it would delay cheaper generic versions of drugs, and because of its provisions for international tribunals that can require corporations be paid "compensation for any lost profits found to result from a nation's regulations."[112]

When the full-text of the TPP was officially released in November 5, 2015, Doctors Without Borders, known as Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), expressed that they were "extremely concerned about the inclusion of dangerous provisions that would dismantle public health safeguards enshrined in international law and restrict access to price-lowering generic medicines for millions of people."[113][114] MSF's advisor, Judit Rius Sanjuan, cautioned that,[113]

"MSF remains gravely concerned about the effects that the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal will have on access to affordable medicines for millions of people, if it is enacted. Today’s official release of the agreed TPP text confirms that the deal will further delay price-lowering generic competition by extending and strengthening monopoly market protections for pharmaceutical companies."

— Doctors Without Borders November 5, 2015

India's laws concerning drug patents allow it to develop generic drugs. Despite India not being a signatory to the TPP, the provisions in the TPP concerning generic drugs seem to be directly targeting India's pharmaceutical industry, according to Amy Kapczynski, faculty director of the Global Health Justice Partnership at Yale University.[101]

Income inequality[edit]

In 2013, Nobel Memorial prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz warned that based on leaked drafts of the TPP, it presented "grave risks" and "serves the interests of the wealthiest."[17][115] Organised labour in the U.S. argued that the trade deal would largely benefit corporations at the expense of workers in the manufacturing and service industries.[116] The Economic Policy Institute and the Center for Economic and Policy Research argued that the TPP could result in further job losses and declining wages.[117][118]

In 2014, Noam Chomsky warned that the TPP is "designed to carry forward the neoliberal project to maximise 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."[119] Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who opposes fast track, stated that trade agreements like the TPP "have ended up devastating working families and enriching large corporations."[120] Another Nobel Memorial Prize-winning economist, Paul Krugman, reported, "... I'll be undismayed and even a bit relieved if the T.P.P. just fades away", and said that "... there isn't a compelling case for this deal, from either a global or a national point of view." Krugman also noted the absence of "anything like a political consensus in favor, abroad or at home."[121] Economist Robert Reich contends that the TPP is a "Trojan horse in a global race to the bottom, giving big corporations and Wall Street banks a way to eliminate any and all laws and regulations that get in the way of their profits."[122][123]

After the announcement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on 25 September 2015 and the finalisation of the TPP a week later, critics have discussed the interactions between the SDGs and the TPP. While one critic sees the TPP as providing a mixed bag of benefits and drawbacks to the SDGs,[124] another regards the TPP as being incompatible with the SDGs, highlighting that if the development provisions clash with any other aspect of the TPP, the other aspect takes priority.[125] The Friends of the Earth have spoken out against the TPP.[126][127]


In 2013, Sierra Club's director of responsible trade, Ilana Solomon, argued 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."[128] Upon the publication of a complete draft of the Environment Chapter and the corresponding Chairs' Report by Wikileaks in January 2014, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the World Wide Fund for Nature joined with the Sierra Club in criticizing the TPP. Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange described the Environment Chapter as "a toothless public relations exercise with no enforcement mechanism."[129][130]

In January 2014, The Washington Post‍ '​s editorial board opined that congressional sponsors of legislation to expedite approval of the TPP in the U.S. already included provisions to ensure that all TPP countries meet international labour and environmental standards, and that the U.S. "has been made more productive by broader international competition and more secure by broader international prosperity".[131]

The Venezuelan-backed TeleSUR reported that, when a deal was struck on 5 October 2015, various environmental organizations including the Sierra Club, NRDC, Greenpeace,, and Food & Water Watch raised warnings against the deal.[132]


A protest in Wellington, New Zealand in November 2014
"Stop Fast Track" rally in Washington D.C., April 2015

On 5 March 2012, a group of TPP protesters disrupted an outside broadcast of 7News Melbourne's 6 pm bulletin at Melbourne, Australia's Federation Square venue.[133] In New Zealand, the "It's Our Future" protest group was formed[134] with the aim of raising public awareness prior to the Auckland round of negotiations, which was held from 3 to 12 December 2012.[135] During the Auckland negotiations, hundreds of protesters clashed with police outside the conference venue and lit a fire in the streets.[136]

A poll conducted in December 2012 showed 64 percent of New Zealanders thought trade agreements, such as the TPP, which allow corporations to sue governments, should be rejected.[137]

In March 2013, four thousand Japanese farmers held a protest in Tokyo over the potential for cheap imports to severely damage the local agricultural industry.[138]

Malaysian protesters dressed as zombies outside a shopping mall in Kuala Lumpur on 21 February 2014 to protest the impact of the TPP on the price of medicines, including treatment drugs for HIV. The protest group consisted of students, members of the Malaysian AIDS Council and HIV-positive patients—one patient explained that, in Malaysian ringgit, he spent between RM500 and RM600 each month on treatment drugs, but this cost would increase to around RM3,000.[139]

On 29 March 2014, 15 anti-TPP protests occurred across New Zealand, including a demonstration in Auckland attended by several thousand people.[140] The New Zealand Nurses Association was particularly concerned that the TPP could prevent government decisions that could benefit public health.[141] On 8 November 2014, further protests occurred in 17 New Zealand cities, with turnouts in the thousands.[142][143]

In January 2015, various petitions and public protests occurred in the U.S. from progressives.[144] On 27 January 2015, protesters hijacked a US Senate hearing to speak out against the TPP and were promptly removed by capitol police officers.[145]

On 15 August 2015, protests were held across New Zealand in Auckland, Christchurch, Wellington, as well as several smaller cities. An activist claimed that over 25,000 people collectively protested against the TPP free trade deal throughout the country.[146] The protests were peaceful; however, police were forced to protect the steps of the Parliament building in the capital of Wellington, after an estimated 2000 people marched to the entrance.[147][148][149]

On 15 September 2015, an estimated 50 protesters blocked a lane of Lambton Quay in the central business district of Wellington, New Zealand. It was reported that up to 30 people were arrested after forming a block on the road, and were taken away in police vans. The group was attempting to enter the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade headquarters, in attempt to seize documents related to the TPPA. They criticized the secrecy surrounding the negotiations, chanting "democracy not secrecy".[150] They were stopped by a police barricade, which later extended to a lock down of the road.[146]

See also[edit]


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External links[edit]