The long-awaited Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal, signed in Auckland, New Zealand on 4th February 2016, was shrouded in mystery, conspicuous for its highly secretive negotiations, closed to both the media and the public.
The TPP involves 12 Pacific Rim countries including Australia, America, Mexico and Canada and has been touted as a deal that will increase the creation of jobs and help economies to flourish.
However, it has also been described as a ‘power grab’, that will allow big businesses to sue governments who implement laws that protect citizens but that also conflict with their financial interests. The tribunals brought to settle any disputes would be international and away from the prying eyes of the host country that it affects. These tribunals would allegedly have no human rights safeguards and could potentially allow businesses to garner increased powers of influence over that countries’ laws.
It has been noted that there were many Pacific Rim countries that did not participate in these negotiations which include, Colombia, South Korea, Ecuador, Argentina, Indonesia, the Philippines and in particular China and Russia.
According to the New York Times, those that stand to gain include American agriculture, technology and pharmaceutical companies. This would allow the US in particular to strengthen its economic might, and would likely reduce China’s economic global power.
International trade agreements are nothing new, previous deals include NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement initiated in 1994, which promised increased economic growth and prosperity for the United States, Mexico and Canada and the TPP is the precursor to the equally secret US-EU Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). It is said that the TPP and TTIP will cover more than 60 % of global GDP. Again, China will not play any part in these negotiations.
The WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, has raised grave concerns about these developments and commented, “If instituted, the TPP’s IP regime would trample over individual rights and free expression, as well as ride roughshod over the intellectual and creative commons. If you read, write, publish, think, listen, dance, sing or invent; if you farm or consume food; if you’re ill now or might one day be ill, the TPP has you in its crosshairs.”
Indeed Wikileaks has uncovered a section of the treaty entitled ‘Enforcement’, which outlines new policing measures that directly relate to individual rights, civil liberties, publishers, internet service providers and internet privacy, as well as for the creative, intellectual, biological and environmental commons.
With their tentacles stretching far and wide, this could just be the start of something very sinister, with undesirable implications for the general public and another link in the chain of the removal of our civil liberties entirely.