Trans-Pacific Partnership

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Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement
Acuerdo Estratégico Trans-Pacífico de Asociación Económica
Leaders of TPP member states and prospective member states at a TPP summit in 2010.
Type Trade agreement
Drafted 3 June 2005[1][2]
Signed 18 July 2005[3][4][5]
Location Wellington, New Zealand
Effective 28 May 2006 (New Zealand and Singapore); 12 July 2006 (Brunei); 8 November 2006 (Chile)[6]
Condition 2 ratifications
Parties 4 (Brunei, Chile, Singapore and New Zealand)
Depositary Government of New Zealand
Languages English and Spanish, in event of conflict English prevails

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a proposed regional regulatory and investment treaty. As of 2014, twelve countries throughout the Asia-Pacific region have participated in negotiations on the TPP: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam.

The proposed agreement began in 2005 as the Trans-Pacific Strategic Partnership Agreement (TPSEP or P4). 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,[7] with the last round meeting in Ottawa from 3–12 July 2014.[8][9] Implementation of the TPP is one of the primary goals of the trade agenda of the Obama administration in the United States of America.

On 12 November 2011, the nine Trans-Pacific Partnership countries announced that the TPP intended 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."[10] Some global health professionals, internet freedom activists, environmentalists, organised labour, advocacy groups, and elected officials have criticised and protested the negotiations, in large part because of the proceedings' secrecy, the agreement's expansive scope, and controversial clauses in drafts leaked to the public.[11][12][13][14] Wikileaks has published several documents since 2013.

Membership and accession[edit]

The negotiations, launched in 2002, initially included three countries (Chile, New Zealand and Singapore) and went by the name of Pacific Three Closer Economic Partnership (P3 CEP). Brunei subsequently joined the agreement before its final round of negotiations in 2005.[15] Subsequently, the agreement was renamed to TPSEP (Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership agreement). The original TPSEP agreement, signed in July/August 2005, contains an accession clause and affirms the members' "commitment to encourage the accession to this Agreement by other economies".[15][16]

In January 2008, the US agreed to enter into talks with the Pacific 4 (P4) members regarding trade liberalisation in financial services.[17] On 22 September 2008, US Trade Representative Susan C. Schwab announced that the US would begin negotiations with the P4 countries to join the TPP, with the first round of talks in early 2009.[18]

In November 2008, Australia, Vietnam, and Peru announced that they would join the P4 trade bloc.[19][20] In October 2010, Malaysia announced that it had also joined the TPP negotiations.[21][22][23]

In June 2012, Canada and Mexico announced that they were joining the TPP negotiations.[24][25][26][27] Mexico's interest in joining was initially met with concern among TPP negotiators about its customs policies.[28]

In 2010, Canada had become an observer in the TPP talks, and expressed interest in officially joining,[29] but was not committed to join, purportedly because the US and New Zealand blocked it due to concerns over Canadian agricultural policy (i.e. supply management)—specifically dairy—and intellectual property-rights protection.[28][30] 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.[31] 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).[22][23][32]

Canada and Mexico formally became TPP negotiating participants in October 2012, following completion of the domestic consultation periods of the other nine members.[33][34][35]

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.[36]

Members and Potential members[edit]

Country/Region Status Date
 Brunei Original Signatory 2005 June
 Chile Original Signatory 2005 June
 New Zealand Original Signatory 2005 June
 Singapore Original Signatory 2005 June
 United States Original Signatory 2008 February
 Australia Original Signatory 2008 November
 Peru Original Signatory 2008 November
 Vietnam Original Signatory 2008 November
 Malaysia Original Signatory 2010 October
 Mexico Negotiating 2012 October
 Canada[37] Original Signatory 2012 October
 Japan Original Signatory 2013 March
 Taiwan Announced Interest 2013 September
 Republic of Korea Announced Interest 2013 November

Potential members[edit]

  Currently in negotiations
  Announced interest in joining
  Potential future members

South Korea was interested in joining in November 2010,[38] 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 late December.[39] 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.[40]

Other countries interested in TPP membership include Taiwan,[41] the Philippines,[42] Laos,[43] Colombia,[44] and Indonesia.[45] Cambodia,[46] Bangladesh[47] and India have also been mentioned as possible candidates.[48] Despite initial opposition, China is interested in joining the TPP eventually.[49]

On 20 November 2012 during a visit by President of the United States Barack Obama, Thailand's government announced its wish to join the TPP negotiations. Expecting Thailand to join after the process is finalised for Canada and Mexico, law professor Jane Kelsey said that it "will be in the extraordinary position of having to accept any existing agreed text, sight unseen."[50]

The most notable country not involved in the negotiations is China. According to the Brookings Institute, 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."[51]


The TPSEP was previously known as the Pacific Three Closer Economic Partnership (P3-CEP), its negotiations launched on the sidelines of the 2002 APEC Leaders' Meeting in Los Cabos, Mexico, by Prime Ministers Helen Clark of New Zealand, Goh Chok Tong of Singapore and Chilean President Ricardo Lagos. Brunei first took part as a full negotiating party in the fifth round of talks in April 2005, after which the trade bloc became known as the Pacific-4 (P4). Although all original and negotiating parties are members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), the TPSEP and TPP are not APEC initiatives. However, the TPP is considered to be a pathfinder for the proposed Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific (FTAAP), an APEC initiative.

The original agreement was concluded by Brunei, Chile, New Zealand and Singapore on 3 June 2005,[2] and entered into force on 28 May 2006 for New Zealand and Singapore, 12 July 2006 for Brunei, and 8 November 2006 for Chile.[52] 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.[53]

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.[54] However, negotiations have continued through 2012, 2013 and 2014.


After the inauguration of Barack Obama in January 2009, the anticipated March 2009 negotiations were postponed. However, in his first trip to Asia in November 2009, president Obama reaffirmed the US's commitment to the TPP, and on 14 December 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".[55]

Since that time, 19 formal rounds of TPP negotiations have been held:[56][57]

  • 1st round: 15–19 March 2010, Melbourne, 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.[58]

  • 2nd round: 14–18 June 2010, San Francisco, 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."[59]

  • 3rd round: 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."[60]

  • 4th round: 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."[61]

  • 5th round: 14–18 February 2011, Santiago, Chile

The 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."[62]

  • 6th round: 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."[63]

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."[64]

  • 8th round: 6–15 September 2011, Chicago, 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."[65]

  • 9th round: 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."[66]

  • 10th round: 5–9 December 2011, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  • 11th round: 2–9 March 2012, Melbourne, Australia
  • 12th round: 8–18 May 2012, Dallas, USA
  • 13th round: 2–10 July 2012. San Diego, USA
  • 14th round: 6–15 September 2012, Leesburg, Virginia, USA
  • 15th round: 3–12 December 2012, Auckland, New Zealand
  • 16th round: 4–13 March 2013 Singapore
  • 17th round: 15–24 May 2013, Lima, Peru
  • 18th round: 15–24 July 2013, Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
  • 19th round: 23–30 August 2013, Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei
  • 20th round: 3–13 July 2014 in Ottawa, Canada

The majority of United States free trade agreements are implemented as congressional-executive agreements.[67] Unlike treaties, such agreements require a majority of the House and Senate to pass.[67] Under "Trade Promotion Authority" (TPA), established by the Trade Act of 1974, Congress authorises 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."[67] In early 2012, the Obama administration indicated that a requirement for the conclusion of TPP negotiations is the renewal of "fast track" Trade Promotion Authority.[68] 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.[69] The Obama Administration and TPP proponents plan to introduce fast-track legislation and legislation on the TPP following the 2014 elections.[70]

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.[71]

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...".[72]

A leaked set of draft documents indicated that public concern had little impact on the negotiations.[73] They also indicated there are strong disagreements between the US and negotiating parties regarding intellectual property, agricultural subsidies, and financial services.[74]

Causes of delays[edit]

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.[75]

Political difficulties, particularly those related to the passage of a Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) by Congress, within the US present another cause of delay for the TPP negotiations. Receiving TPA from Congress is looking especially difficult for Obama since members of his own Democratic Party are against them, 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."[76]


Only certain sections of the drafts of the Trans-Pacific Partnership have been leaked to the public, and only summaries of other parts. Many of the provisions are modelled on previous trade and deregulation agreements. 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.[77]

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:
  1. Regulatory coherence: Commitments will promote trade between the countries by making trade among them more seamless and efficient.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.[78]

Intellectual property provisions[edit]

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).[79]

A number of United States Congresspeople,[80] including Senator Bernard Sanders[81] and Representatives Henry Waxman, Sander M. Levin, John Conyers, Jim McDermott,[82] John Lewis, Pete Stark, Charles B. Rangel, Earl Blumenauer, and Lloyd Doggett,[83] have expressed concerns about the effect the TPP requirements would have on access to medicine. In particular, they are concerned that the TPP focuses on protecting intellectual property to the detriment of efforts to provide access to affordable medicine in the developing world, particularly Vietnam, going against the foreign policy goals of the Obama administration and previous administrations.[80] 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.[83]

Opponents of the Trans-Pacific Partnership say US corporations are hoping to weaken Pharmac's ability to get inexpensive, generic medicines by forcing New Zealand to pay for brand name drugs.[84] Doctors and organisations like Medecins Sans Frontieres have also expressed concern.[85] 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".[86]

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." Kensaku Fukui, a lawyer and a Nihon University professor, expressed concerns that the TPP could allow companies to restrict or stop imports and exports of intellectual property, such as licensed merchandise. For example, IP holders could restrict or stop importers from shipping merchandise such as DVDs and other related goods related to an anime or manga property into one country to protect local distribution of licensed merchandise already in the country via local licensors.[87]

At a NicoNico live seminar called How Would TPP Change the Net and Copyrights? An In-Depth Examination: From Extending Copyright Terms to Changing the Law to Allow Unilateral Enforcement and Statutory Damages, artist Kazuhiko Hachiya warned that cosplay could also fall under the TPP, and such an agreement could give law enforcement officials broad interpretive authority in dictating how people could dress up. Critics also have derided the agreement could also harm Japanese culture, where some segments have developed through parody works.[88]

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.[89][90] On 16 October 2014, it released a second updated version of the TPP Intellectual Property Rights Chapter.[91]

Investor–state arbitration[edit]

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.[92] As of 2012, US negotiators were pursuing an investor-state dispute settlement mechanism, also known as corporate tribunals, which can be used to attack domestic public interest laws.[92] This mechanism is a common provision in international trade and investment agreements, that 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.[93]

Critics of the investment protection regime argue that traditional investment treaty standards are incompatible with environmental law, human rights protection, and public welfare regulation, meaning that TPP will be used to force states to lower standards e.g., environmental and workers protection, or be sued for damages.[94] The Australian government's position against investor state dispute settlement has been argued to support the rule of law and national energy security.[95]

On March 26, 2015 WikiLeaks released the TPP's Investment Chapter.[96]


Negotiation secrecy[edit]

In 2012, critics like 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."[28] 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.[28]

On 23 May 2012, United States Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced S. 3225, a document requiring the Office of the US Trade Representative to disclose its TPP documents to all members of Congress.[97] Wyden said the bill clarifies the intent of 2002 legislation, which 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.[98] Wyden asserted:

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.[98]

In 2013, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass) and Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) were among a group of individuals[14] who criticised the Obama administration's secrecy policies on the Trans-Pacific Pact.[14][99][100]

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.[9] Inquiries from public interest groups about attending this round were ignored.[9]

Japanese auto tariffs[edit]

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."[101]

Currency manipulation[edit]

Another contentious issue of the TPP negotiations has been currency manipulation, wherein a country devalues its currency to boost exports and gain a trade advantage. Politicians such as 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." 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."[102]

Australian Health Impact Assessment[edit]

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 organisations (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.[103]

New Zealand public opinion poll[edit]

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.[104]

US responses[edit]

In 2013, Joseph Stiglitz, a Keynesian economist, warned that the TPP presented "grave risks" and "serves the interests of the wealthiest."[14][105] Organized labour in the US argued that the trade deal would largely benefit corporations at the expense of workers in the manufacturing and service industries.[106] 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.[107][108]

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.[109]

In 2014, Noam Chomsky warned that the TPP is "designed to carry forward the neoliberal project to maximize profit and domination, and to set the working people in the world in competition with one another so as to lower wages to increase insecurity."[110] 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."[111] 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."[112] 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."[113][114]

In a letter to Michael Froman, a US Trade Representative, Senator Bernie Sanders wrote:

It is incomprehensible to me that the leaders of major corporate interests who stand to gain enormous financial benefits from this agreement are actively involved in the writing of the TPP while, at the same time, the elected officials of this country, representing the American people, have little or no knowledge as to what is in it.[115]

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."[116] 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. Julian Assange described the Environment Chapter as "a toothless public relations exercise with no enforcement mechanism."[117][118]

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".[119]

On 29 January, former US Labor Secretary Robert Reich released an illustrating video explaining the TPP. He opposes it on grounds such as "delaying cheaper generic versions of drugs", and its provisions for international tribunals that can require corporations be paid "compensation for any lost profits found to result from a nation's regulations."[120]



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.[121] In New Zealand, the "It's Our Future" protest group was formed[122] with the aim of raising public awareness prior to the Auckland round of negotiations, which was held from 3 to 12 December 2012.[123] During the Auckland negotiations, hundreds of protesters clashed with police outside the conference venue and lit a fire in the streets.[124]


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.[125]


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.[126]

A protest in Wellington, New Zealand in November 2014

On 29 March 2014, 15 anti-TPP protests occurred across New Zealand, including a demonstration in Auckland attended by several thousand people.[127] 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."[128] On 8 November 2014, further protests occurred in 17 New Zealand cities, with turnouts in the thousands.[129][130]


In January 2015, various petitions and public protests occurred in the US from progressives.[131] On 27 January 2015, protesters hijacked a US Senate hearing to speak out against the TPP and were promptly removed by capitol police officers.[132]

Relationship with other frameworks[edit]

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.[133]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Brunei Darussalam, Chile, New Zealand and Singapore conclude negotiations on a Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement" (Press release). Joint Press Statement from Brunei Darussalam, Chile, New Zealand and Singapore Ministers. 3 June 2005. Archived from the original on 7 September 2006. Retrieved 15 December 2012. Brunei Darussalam Ambassador-at-Large Princess Masna, Chilean Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr Ignacio Walker, New Zealand Minister for Trade Negotiations Hon Jim Sutton, and Singapore Minister for Trade and Industry Mr Lim Hng Kiang today announced the successful conclusion of negotiations for a Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement (Trans-Pacific SEP).... The Ministers will recommend the results of the negotiations to their respective governments for signature. 
  2. ^ a b "Brunei, Chile, New Zealand and Singapore reach trans-Pacific FTA". The Manila Bulletin. Reuters. 3 June 2005. Retrieved 15 December 2012. 
  3. ^ "Second free trade agreement to be signed by NZ this year" (Press release). New Zealand Government. 18 July 2005. The first multi-party free trade agreement spanning the Pacific and Asia was signed today in a ceremony at Parliament, announced Prime Minister Helen Clark. 
  4. ^ "Treaties for which NZ is Depositary: Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership (TPSEP or P4)". Retrieved 15 December 2012. 
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