TPP is an acronym for ‘Trans Pacific Partnership’ which is a ‘free trade’ agreement between 12 countries, spearheaded by the United States of America. Other countries included are Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, Japan, Vietnam, Peru, Singapore and New Zealand. The agreement would seek to bring economic integration and government regulation for nations surrounding the Pacific rim and raise standards of markets providing further opportunity for expansion in future. It is encouraged by giant transnational organisations, for whom TPP will be highly rewarding as it will open up markets, reduce trade barriers etc.
To know more about TPP, let’s take a little peak into its genesis. The talks regarding the TPP were initiated way back in 2003 by Singapore, Chile and New Zealand to liberalise their trade. Discussions and talks went on and in 2008, the USA took the lead. Since then, talks have been going on with others who have shown interest in joining TPP, Japan being the last in 2013.
We know very well that this is not the first trade agreement to happen under the aegis of the World Trade Organisation, so why is there such a hue and cry against the implementation of this agreement? The most apparent reasons for this are the highly ambitious projects spanning 12 countries which will have serious ramifications for the general population. TPP will be expected to regulate non trade matters like food safety, internet freedom, medicine costs, environmental policies etc. According to the norms, any country that signs the treaty has to conform its domestic policies to the international system of governance.
Another reason that has outraged the public is that these talks were till now obscure, clandestine affairs, held behind closed doors. Thanks to Wikileaks, which has released a partial draft of Trans Pacific Agreement into the limelight of the general population and opened the matter to general public discourse. There are numerous reasons elaborating that adoption of TPP can bring adverse, cataclysmic changes in the life of the ordinary citizens.
1 . Intellectual Property Rights in jeopardy
TPP has confirmed people’s worst fears regarding the matter of IP(Intellectual Property), which aims at bringing stringent copyright laws, curtail internet freedom, infringing online privacy and also impend in the ability to ‘innovate’. These copyright rights that the member nations have to comply with are far more restrictive than any other current international treaty. The signatory countries will by default have to have domestic policies that confirm to these international standards. Countries like Canada, Chile and New Zealand that have liberal intellectual property policies are being sceptical about the TPP and its policies. The lack of transparency is also a questionable factor that is against the true spirit of democracy and human rights.
2. Environmental destruction
TPP is tremendously catastrophic for the environment, as corporations can easily breach the environmental laws and regulations for the prospect of profits. Its going to sabotage the fragile ecosystem of this region which includes the ‘Great Barrier Rief’, and threatening a myriad range of species. Increased trade activity means exponential rise in consumption, especially of non —biodegradable products which will harm the environment. Air pollution, deteriorating water quality and climate change could also be the result of TPP.
3. Some other repercussions of TPP will be increased medicine costs, undermining food safety standards and abysmal working conditions as they would not come under the realm of the International Labour Organisation.
What is most outrageous is the blatant disregard of democratic ideas and principles. The ‘Obama administration’ has been extremely secretive about the whole issue, keeping the media and the public in dark. The US government is aggressively advocating for the TPP to pass. One way of stopping TPP is to obstruct the “Fast Track” agreements. So, what is Fast Track? To put it simply, it’s a bill passed where by the Congress (in America!) will relinquish its authority to discuss the TPP and the White House will have complete power to sign trade agreement without Congress interference.
TPP only emphasises the interests of mighty multinational corporations and selected officials at the cost of digital, internet and personal freedom. It’s time the world woke from it’s reverie and started fighting for its rights, fight for democracy.