Leaders of prospective member states at a TPP summit in 2010
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a proposed trade agreement between several Pacific Rim countries concerning a variety of matters of economic policy. Among other things, the TPP seeks to lower trade barriers such as tariffs, establish a common framework for intellectual property, enforce standards for labour law and environmental law, and establish an investor-state dispute settlement mechanism. The stated goal of the agreement is to "enhance trade and investment among the TPP partner countries, to promote innovation, economic growth and development, and to support the creation and retention of jobs." TPP is considered by the United States government as the companion agreement to TTIP (the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership), a broadly similar agreement between the United States and the European Union.
Historically, the TPP is an expansion of the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement (TPSEP or P4) which was signed by Brunei, Chile, Singapore, and New Zealand in 2006. Beginning in 2008, additional countries joined for a broader agreement: Australia, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, the United States, and Vietnam, bringing the total number of participating countries to twelve.
Participating countries set the goal of wrapping up negotiations in 2012, but contentious issues such as agriculture, intellectual property, and services and investments have caused negotiations to continue into the present, with the latest round of negotiations in July 2015. Implementation of the TPP is one of the primary goals of the trade agenda of the Obama administration in the United States of America.
Although the text of the treaty has not been made public, Wikileaks has published several leaked documents since 2013. A number of global health professionals, internet freedom activists, environmentalists, organised labour, advocacy groups, and elected officials have criticised 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.
- 1 Membership
- 2 History
- 3 Contents
- 4 Implications
- 5 Ratification
- 6 Points of contention within the agreement
- 7 Criticism
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 External links
There are twelve countries which are participating in negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement. These include the four parties to the 2005 Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement in 2006, as well as eight others.
|Country/Region||Status 2005 agreement||Status TPP||start of TPP
|Brunei||Party (28 May 2006)||Negotiating||February 2008|
|Chile||Party (8 November 2006)||Negotiating||February 2008|
|New Zealand||Party (12 July 2006)||Negotiating||February 2008|
|Singapore||Party (28 May 2006)||Negotiating||February 2008|
|United States||Non-Party||Negotiating||February 2008|
|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|
South Korea is not part of the 2006 agreement, but it has shown interest in entering the TPP, and was invited to the TPP negotiating rounds by the US after the successful conclusion of its Free trade agreement between the United States of America and the Republic of Korea in December 2010. South Korea already has bilateral trade agreements with some TPP members, but areas such as vehicle manufacturing and agriculture still need to be agreed upon, making further multilateral TPP negotiations somewhat complicated. South Korea may join the TPP as part of a second wave of expansion for the trade agreement.
Other countries and regions interested in TPP membership include Taiwan, the Philippines, Laos, Colombia, Thailand, and Indonesia. According to law professor Edmund Sim, many of these potential countries would have to change their protectionist trade policies in order to join the TPP. Other potential future members include Cambodia, Bangladesh and India.
The most notable country in the Pacific Rim not involved in the negotiations is China. According to the Brookings Institution, the most fundamental challenge for the TPP project regarding China is 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." However, China may still be interested in joining the TPP eventually.
Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement
|Drafted||3 June 2005|
|Signed||18 July 2005|
|Location||Wellington, New Zealand|
|Effective||28 May 2006|
|Parties||4 (Brunei, Chile, Singapore and New Zealand)|
|Depositary||Government of New Zealand|
|Languages||English and Spanish, in event of conflict English prevails|
Brunei—a member of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) since 1989— has played an important role in the formation of the earlier trade agreements that led up to the creation of TPP in 2005. In 2000 Brunei hosted the pivotal meeting of APEC where discussion began and later the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) in July 2002.
By 2001 New Zealand and Singapore had already joined in the New Zealand/Singapore Closer Economic Partnership (NZSCEP). The Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement (Trans-Pacific SEP) built on the NZSCEP.:5
During the 2002 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders' Meeting in Los Cabos, Mexico, Prime Ministers Helen Clark of New Zealand, Goh Chok Tong of Singapore and Chilean President Ricardo Lagos began negotiations on the Pacific Three Closer Economic Partnership (P3-CEP).:5 According to the New Zealand Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade,:5
"The shared desire was to create a comprehensive, forward-looking trade agreement that set high-quality benchmarks on trade rules, and would help to promote trade liberalisation and facilitate trade within the APEC region."— Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, New Zealand 2005
Brunei first took part as a full negotiating party in April 2005 before the fifth, and final round of talks. Subsequently, the agreement was renamed to TPSEP (Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership agreement or Pacific-4). Negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement (TPSEP or P4) were 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.
The original TPSEP agreement contains an accession clause and affirms the members' "commitment to encourage the accession to this Agreement by other economies". 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.
Although original and negotiating parties are members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), the TPSEP (and the TPP it grew into) 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.
In January 2008, the US agreed to enter into talks with the Pacific 4 (P4) members regarding trade liberalisation in financial services. On 22 September 2008, US Trade Representative Susan C. Schwab announced that the US would be the first country to begin negotiations with the P4 countries to join the TPP, planning to start the first round of talks in early 2009. In November 2008, Australia, Vietnam, and Peru announced that they would also join the P4 trade bloc. In October 2010, Malaysia announced that it had also joined the TPP negotiations.
After the inauguration of President 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 TPP, and on December 14, 2009, new US 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". On the last day of the 2010 APEC summit, leaders of the nine negotiating countries endorsed the proposal advanced by US President Barack Obama that set a target for settlement of negotiations by the next APEC summit in November 2011.
In 2010, Canada had become an observer in the TPP talks, and expressed interest in officially joining, but was not committed to join, purportedly because the US and New Zealand blocked it because of 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).
In June 2012, Canada and Mexico announced that they were joining the TPP negotiations. Mexico's interest in joining was initially met with concern among TPP negotiators about its customs policies. Canada and Mexico formally became TPP negotiating participants in October 2012, following completion of the domestic consultation periods of the other nine members.
Japan officially joined the TPP negotiations on 23 July 2013. According to the Brookings Institution, Prime Minister Abe's decision to commit Japan to joining the TPP should be understood as a necessary complement to his efforts to stimulate the Japanese economy with monetary easing and the related depreciation of the Yen. These efforts alone, without the type of economic reform the TPP will lead to, are unlikely to produce long-term improvements in Japan's growth prospects.
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 co-operation 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...".
A set of draft documents that were leaked in late-2013 indicated that public concern had little impact on the negotiations. They also indicated there are strong disagreements between the US and negotiating parties regarding intellectual property, agricultural subsidies, and financial services.
A spokesman for Australia's Trade Minister Andrew Robb confirmed on August 1, 2015, that a conclusion had not been reached during the Ministerial Meeting in Hawaii, U.S., in late July 2015. Robb told the media that Australia had made progress on sugar and dairy matters, but the balance that the Australian government was seeking had not yet been finalized.
|Round||Dates||Location||US Trade Representative's Summary|
|1st||15–19 March 2010||Melbourne, Victoria, Australia||The negotiating groups that met included industrial goods, agriculture, sanitary and phytosanitary standards, telecommunications, financial services, customs, rules of origin, government procurement, environment, and trade capacity building. Negotiators agreed to draft papers in preparation for the second round of negotiations.|
|2nd||14–18 June 2010||San Francisco, California, USA||This round included "determining the architecture for market access negotiations, deciding the relationship between the TPP and existing FTAs among the negotiating partners, addressing "horizontal" issues such as small business priorities, regulatory coherence, and other issues that reflect the way businesses operate and workers interact in the 21st century, and proceeding toward the tabling of text on all chapters of the agreement in the third negotiating round, scheduled for October in Brunei."|
|3rd||5–8 October 2010||Brunei||This round included "meetings on agriculture, services, investment, government procurement, competition, environment, and labor. The groups focused on the objectives that they had set for this round: preparation of consolidated text and proposals for cooperation. Negotiations will continue through Saturday, with groups on telecommunications, e-commerce, textiles, customs, technical barriers to trade, and trade capacity building beginning Friday."|
|4th||6–10 December 2010||Auckland, New Zealand||In the 4th round talks, the negotiating countries "began work on trade in goods, financial services, customs, labor, and intellectual property. They also discussed cross-cutting issues, including how to ensure that small- and medium-sized enterprises can take advantage of the TPP, promoting greater connectivity and the participation of U.S. firms in Asia-Pacific supply chains and enhancing the coherence of the regulatory systems of the TPP countries to make trade across the region more seamless."|
|5th||14–18 February 2011||Santiago, Chile||In Santiago, the negotiating countries "made further progress in developing the agreement's legal texts, which will spell out the rights and obligations each country will take on and that will cover all aspects of trade and investment relationships. The teams carefully reviewed the text proposals made by each country, ensuring understanding of each other's proposals so negotiations could advance. With consolidated negotiating texts in most areas, partners began seeking to narrow differences and to consider the interests and concerns of each country."|
|6th||24 March – 1 April 2011||Singapore||In Singapore, "the United States and TPP countries made substantial headway toward a key goal of developing the legal texts of the agreement, which include commitments covering all aspects of their trade and investment relationship. Recognizing the priority of this negotiation as well as the challenge of negotiating a regional agreement with nine countries, each country began showing the type of flexibility that will be needed to successfully conclude the negotiation. As a result, the teams were able to narrow the gaps in their positions on a wide range of issues across the more than 25 chapters of the agreement."|
|7th||15–24 June 2011||Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam||In Vietnam, "among the issues on which the teams had particularly productive discussions were the new cross-cutting issues that will feature for the first time in the TPP. After consulting internally on the U.S. text tabled at the sixth round, they furthered their efforts to find common ground on the regulatory coherence text intended to make the regulatory systems of their countries operate in a more consistent and seamless manner and avoid the types of regulatory barriers that are increasingly among the key obstacles to trade. The teams also had constructive discussions on approaches to development in the TPP and the importance of ensuring that the agreement serves to close the development gap among TPP members."|
|8th||6–15 September 2011||Chicago, Illinois, USA||"Negotiators from the nine TPP partner countries – Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam, and the United States – are reporting good progress early in the eighth round of talks, expected to last through September 15. Negotiating groups that have already begun meetings include services, financial services, investment, customs, telecommunications, intellectual property rights (IPR), government procurement, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, and environment. Numerous negotiating teams are also holding bilateral meetings."|
|9th||22–29 October 2011||Lima, Peru||"During this round, negotiators built upon progress made in previous rounds and pressed forward toward the goal of reaching the broad outlines of an ambitious, jobs-focused agreement by the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Leaders' meeting in Honolulu, HI next month. At APEC, President Obama and his counterparts from the other eight TPP countries will take stock of progress to date and discuss next steps."|
|10th||5–9 December 2011||Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia|
|11th||2–9 March 2012||Melbourne, Victoria, Australia|
|12th||8–18 May 2012||Dallas, Texas, USA|
|13th||2–10 July 2012||San Diego, California, USA|
|14th||6–15 September 2012||Leesburg, Virginia, USA|
|15th||3–12 December 2012||Auckland, New Zealand|
|16th||4–13 March 2013||Singapore|
|17th||15–24 May 2013||Lima, Peru|
|18th||15–24 July 2013||Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia|
|19th||23–30 August 2013||Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei||"explored how to develop a mutually-acceptable package, including possible landing zones on remaining sensitive and challenging issues and sequencing of issues in the final talks. Particular areas of focus have included matters related to market access for goods, services/investment, financial services, and government procurement as well as the texts covering intellectual property, competition, and environmental issues. We also discussed the remaining outstanding issues on labor, dispute settlement, and other areas. "|
After the 19th round of formal meetings, negotiations stopped taking the form of official rounds, but other meetings, such as Chief Negotiators Meetings and Ministers Meetings, continue.
|Kind of meeting||Dates||Location||US Trade Representative's Summary|
|Chief Negotiators Meeting||18–21 September 2013||Washington, DC|
|Ministerial meeting||3-? Oct 2013||Bali, Indonesia||"Environment, intellectual property, and state-owned enterprises."|
|October 28-November 1, 2013||Mexico City, Mexico||"Rules of Origin"|
|October 30-November 2, 2013||Washington, D.C.||"Government Procurement"|
|November 4-November 7, 2013||Santiago, Chile||"State-Owned Enterprises"|
|November 6-November 9, 2013||Washington, D.C.||"Investment"|
|November 12-November 14, 2013||Washington, D.C.||"Legal and Institutional Issues"|
|November 12-November 18||Salt Lake City, UT||"Rules of Origin"|
|Chief Negotiators Meeting||19–24 November 2013||Salt Lake City, USA||"Chief Negotiators and Key Experts"|
|Ministers Meeting||7–10 December 2013||Singapore|
|Ministers Meeting||21–25 February 2014||Singapore|
|Ministers Meeting||18–20 May 2014||Singapore|
|Chief negotiators meeting||3–13 July 2014||Ottawa, Canada (changed from Vancouver)|
|Chief negotiators meeting||1–10 September 2014||Hanoi, Vietnam|
|Ministers Meeting||24–27 October 2014||Sydney, Australia|
|Leaders’ and Ministers’ Meeting||November 2014||Beijing, China|
|Chief negotiators meeting||8–12 December 2014||Washington, D.C.|
|Chief negotiators meeting||January 26-February 1||New York City, USA|
|Chief negotiators meeting||9–15 March 2015||Hawaii|
|Chief negotiators meeting||April 23–26, 2015||Maryland|
|Chief negotiators meeting||May 14 – 28, 2015||Guam||Ministerial meeting cancelled over uncertainty whether the United States would pass TPA authority.|
|Ministerial meeting||24–31 July 2015||Hawaii, United States|
|Chief negotiators meeting||26 - 30 September 2015||Atlanta, Georgia|
General outlines and summaries of the agreement have been provided by those conducting negotiations, but the full text of the agreement has been kept classified. However, some portions of the full agreement have been leaked to the public. Many of the provisions are modeled on previous trade and deregulation agreements.
US Trade Representative's summary
According to the website of the Office of the United States Trade Representative, TPP chapters include: competition, co-operation and capacity building, cross-border services, customs, e-commerce, environment, financial services, government procurement, intellectual property, investment, labour, legal issues, market access for goods, rules of origin, sanitary and phytosanitary standards, technical barriers to trade, telecommunications, temporary entry, textiles and apparel, trade remedies.
Also according to the USTR, the contents of the TPP seek to address issues that promote:
- Comprehensive market access by eliminating tariffs and other barriers to goods and services trade and investment, so as to create new opportunities for our workers and businesses and immediate benefits for our consumers.
- A fully regional agreement by facilitating the development of production and supply chains among TPP members, which will support the goals of job creation, improving living standards and welfare, and promoting sustainable growth among member countries.
- Cross-cutting trade issues by building on work being done in APEC and other fora by incorporating four new cross-cutting issues in the TPP. These issues are:
- Regulatory coherence: Commitments will promote trade between the countries by making trade among them more seamless and efficient.
- Competitiveness and business facilitation: Commitments will enhance the domestic and regional competitiveness of each member country's economy and promote economic integration and jobs in the region, including through the development of regional production and supply chains.
- Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprises: Commitments will address concerns small- and medium-sized businesses have raised about the difficulty in understanding and using trade agreements, encouraging these sized enterprises to trade internationally.
- Development: Comprehensive and robust market liberalisation, improvements in trade and investment enhancing disciplines, and other commitments will serve to strengthen institutions important for economic development and governance and thereby contribute significantly to advancing TPP countries' respective economic development priorities.
- New trade challenges by promoting trade and investment in innovative products and services, including the digital economy and green technologies, and to ensure a competitive business environment across the TPP region.
- Living agreement by enabling the updating of the agreement when needed to address trade issues that materialise in the future as well as new issues that arise with the expansion of the agreement to include new countries.
Intellectual property provisions
The intellectual property section 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.
Some of the provisions relating to the enforcement of patents and copyrights alleged to be present in the US proposal for the agreement have been criticised as being excessively restrictive, providing intellectual property restraints beyond those in the Korea–US trade agreement and Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA).
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. On 16 October 2014, it released a second updated version of the TPP Intellectual Property Rights Chapter.
Investor–state arbitration (ISDS)
“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".
According to The Nation's interpretation of leaked documents in 2012, countries would be obliged to conform all their domestic laws and regulations to the TPP's rules, even limiting how governments could spend their tax dollars. 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". 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. The Australian government's position against investor state dispute settlement has been argued to support the rule of law and national energy security.
On March 26, 2015 WikiLeaks released the TPP's Investment Chapter. According to WikiLeaks, the accord would grant the power to global corporations to sue governments in tribunals organized by the World Bank or the United Nations to obtain taxpayer compensation for loss of expected future profits due to government actions.
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 US 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 US 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 US has been excluded from economic cooperation among ASEAN + 3 (ASEAN, China, Japan, South Korea).
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.
Relationship with other frameworks
Along with the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), the RCEP is 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 are ambitious FTAs and will involve complex negotiations as it involves multiple parties and sectors. The TPP and RCEP as mutually reinforcing parallel tracks for regional integration.
|This section requires expansion with: ratification for countries other than US. (April 2015)|
The majority of United States free trade agreements are implemented as congressional-executive agreements. Unlike treaties, such agreements require a majority of the House and Senate to pass. 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." In early 2012, the Obama administration indicated that a requirement for the conclusion of TPP negotiations is the renewal of TPA. This would require 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.
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.
On April 16, 2015, several US Senators introduced "The Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015", which is commonly known as TPA Fast-track legislation. The bill passed the Senate on May 21, 2015, by a vote of 62 to 38, with 31 Democrats, five Republicans and both Independents opposing. The bill went to the US House of Representatives, which narrowly passed the bill 218-208, and also removed the Trade Adjustment Assistance portions of the Senate bill. The TPA was passed by the Senate on June 24, 2015, without the TAA provisions, requiring only the signature of the President before becoming law. President Obama expressed a desire to sign the TPA and TAA together, and did sign both into law on June 29, as the TAA was able to make its way through congress in a separate bill. By June 2015, the Trade-Promotion Authority bill (TPA) passed the Senate. 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." The successful conclusion of these bilateral talks was necessary before the other ten TPP members could complete the trade deal.
Points of contention within the agreement
Causes of delays
Wikileaks' exposure 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.
Political difficulties, particularly those related to the passage of a Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) by the US 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.". Obama received Trade Promotion Authority on June 29, 2015.
A country can devalue its currency to boost exports and gain a trade advantage. 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 US 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."
United States-Japan bilateral accords (agriculture and auto)
Before Japan entered TPP negotiations in July 2013, reports indicated that it would allow the US 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."
By April 2015 U.S. Trade Representative 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." These bilateral accords which would open each other's "markets for products such as rice, pork and automobiles. In Japan "rice, wheat, barley, beef, pork, dairy goods, sugar and starch crops are considered politically sensitive products that have to be protected." 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 the most one of the most contentious trade issue— 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. Oe Hiroshi responded that there are fewer American car dealerships in Japan because Japanese consumers prefer European and Japanese cars to American cars. In Japan and Europe automobiles must pass more rigorous safety standards before they are put on the market. American "automakers self-certify and cars are tested only after they go on sale."
During the late July, 2015 negotiations held in Maui, Hawaii, the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) 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. Canada and Mexico are concerned that this unexpected side deal "could hit the NAFTA partners’ auto sectors hard."
Secrecy of negotiations
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. US 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." 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.
On 23 May 2012, United States Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced S. 3225, which would have required the Office of the US Trade Representative to disclose its TPP documents to all members of Congress. 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. Wyden said:
In 2013, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass) and Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) were among a group of individuals who criticized the Obama administration's secrecy policies on the Trans-Pacific Pact.
The last round of negotiations was scheduled to occur in Vancouver, Canada, but two weeks before the commencement date, Canada's capital, Ottawa, was selected as the new meeting venue. Inquiries from public interest groups about attending this round were ignored.
In a statement denouncing the TPP, Senator (I-VT) Bernie Sanders wrote:
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."
The Electronic Frontier Foundation has been highly critical of the 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).
Both the copyright term expansion and the non-complaint provision previously failed to pass in Japan because they were so controversial. 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. 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."
Cost of medicine
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. A number of United States Congressional members, including Senator Bernard Sanders and Representatives Sander M. Levin, John Conyers, Jim McDermott and the now-retired Henry Waxman, as well as  John Lewis, Charles B. Rangel, Earl Blumenauer, Lloyd Doggett and then-congressman Pete Stark, 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. 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 in New Zealand say US 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. Physicians and organizations including Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) have also expressed concern.
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. 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."
Former US 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."
In 2013, Nobel 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." 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. 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.
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." 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." Another Nobel 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." 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."
Ilana Solomon, Sierra Club's director of responsible trade, 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." 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 criticising the TPP. Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange described the Environment Chapter as "a toothless public relations exercise with no enforcement mechanism."
In January 2014, The Washington Post 's editorial board opined that congressional sponsors of legislation to expedite approval of the TPP in the US already included provisions to ensure that all TPP countries meet international labour and environmental standards, and that the US "has been made more productive by broader international competition and more secure by broader international prosperity".
On 5 March 2012, a group of TPP protesters disrupted an outside broadcast of 7News Melbourne's 6pm bulletin at Melbourne, Australia's Federation Square venue. In New Zealand, the "It's Our Future" protest group was formed with the aim of raising public awareness prior to the Auckland round of negotiations, which was held from 3 to 12 December 2012. During the Auckland negotiations, hundreds of protesters clashed with police outside the conference venue and lit a fire in the streets.
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.
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.
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.
On 29 March 2014, 15 anti-TPP protests occurred across New Zealand, including a demonstration in Auckland attended by several thousand people. In a press release announcing the New Zealand Nurses Association's decision to join the protests, the association's policy analyst stated that the TPP could prevent government decisions that would be beneficial to public health because "if private investors, such as tobacco companies, were affected they could sue the government." On 8 November 2014, further protests occurred in 17 New Zealand cities, with turnouts in the thousands.
In January 2015, various petitions and public protests occurred in the US from progressives. On 27 January 2015, protesters hijacked a US Senate hearing to speak out against the TPP and were promptly removed by capitol police officers.
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. 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.
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". They were stopped by a police barricade, which later extended to a lock down of the road.
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