TPP – Making the planet safer for lobbyists

The much touted $ benefits are all tiny numbers at some future date – pretty much rounding errors. There may well be gains for some sunset type industries but on the IP side (sunrise) which is really the future of all business we have been handed another level of constraints. Who waits 10 or 25 years to implement minuscule changes to trade rules?

Cartoon credit to @FoxyLustyGrover

As Gordon Campbell on the TPP deal reached in Atlanta notes:

“John Key has already been spinning the “93% tariff free” outcome across the TPP region, as if that situation was entirely due to the TPP deal. To get that figure, Key is adding all pre-existing tariff reductions and adding them to the TPP. To take a relevant example… 80% of US trade with other TPP members is already duty free.”


“Over the period from now until 2030, even the rosier projections for New Zealand see the TPP adding only about 1% per annum to this country’s GDP.”

Copyright extension. Under US pressure, we have expanded our copyright term from 50 to 70 years. As some US commentators are already saying, these and other measures in the intellectual property chapter will have a chilling effect on innovation, will place greater restrictions on what counts as fair use, and will criminalise some activities that were hitherto not criminal in either their intention or their effect. While New Zealand is banging about dairy access as part of its traditional role as an exporter of raw agricultural products, the rest of the global economy is seeing a future in adding value and promoting its service industries… And on that score, our innovators stand to lose more than they gain from the intellectual property rights dimension of this deal. The TPP entrenches the position of existing intellectual property owners.”

foxy-cartoon-tpp300What I think the TPP does is to make the international stage safer for transnational companies and corporates.

NBR has a story “Lobbies welcome TPP” which I don’t think is intentionally satirical but besides government trade people the only ones who know what is in the TPP are the lobbyists.

What would also be good to know is how TPP is such a fine deal when there is a TTIP in the northern hemisphere – again to make the rest of the world “safe” for US monopolies and other transnational businesses.

It is always good to reduce trade barriers but arguably the TPP is much more subtly putting up new IP barriers that a knowledge based economy will definitely regret.

When Joseph Stiglitz and Adam Hersh write “The Trans-Pacific Free-Trade Charade

“The biggest regional trade and investment agreement in history is not what it seems.

You will hear much about the importance of the TPP for “free trade.” The reality is that this is an agreement to manage its members’ trade and investment relations – and to do so on behalf of each country’s most powerful business lobbies.”

“International corporate interests tout ISDS as necessary to protect property rights where the rule of law and credible courts are lacking. But that argument is nonsense. The US is seeking the same mechanism in a similar mega-deal with the European Union, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, even though there is little question about the quality of Europe’s legal and judicial systems.

“It should surprise no one that America’s international agreements produce managed rather than free trade”

One of the better outcomes from the TPP so far has been that ISD process does not allow the tobacco industry to sue governments for say “plain paper packaging”  but it will be another month before anyone here sees any detail of the still secret texts and the next round of lobbying begins to try and pass this in NZ’s parliament.

Given that all the negotiations have been in secret so far it has been very difficult to analyse the agreements. Now that an actual treaty has been signed – lets hope sensible heads will prevail and non-partisan analysis of the fine print can be made.

I don’t think most people are against free trade but the TPP looks to be very much more than that and now is the time for our politicians to front up and be honest. I know “honest politicians” is an oxymoron but we have to start somewhere as there will be an onslaught of PR in favour of TPP by the very same lobbyists.

Postscript: This is why twitter is useful – some instant feedback – that last one about no vote needed in parliament is important.

Update: 7 Oct – Process is cabinet can pass the TPP but various law changes need to be debated in parliament so there is still some debate. It also looks like a lot of mis-information from supporters and non-supporters.

The complexity is too much for most of the public. While the text is supposed to be made public within 30 days there is now some suggestion that it could be two years. My view is that the secrecy of the process (so far) is strategically damaging to the governments that do this.

What we need is more transparency and clear eyed analysis of the tradeoffs in plain view.

That analysis needs to show what the true price of this agreement is. Apparently there are 29 chapters – of which 3 have been leaked. Most of the content has not been reviewed by anyone outside the official process and that needs to change.

Listen here for some of the implications

More from InternetNZ here TPPA means copyright law reform needed

See also Bryan Gould: Dairy tariffs still in place – why did we sign TPP?