I haven’t read the Trade deal and had to rely on reports from across the Internet and in the daily papers but it is available to read online. It has glaring problems.
The text of the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement between the U.S. and 11 other countries including Japan and Mexico was posted online by the president and the Office of the United States Trade Representative. New Zealand has also posted it. It runs to 30 chapters and thousands of pages. It lays out detailed plans for trade in every thing imaginable.
The AP reported that “it lays out plans for handling of trade in everything from zinc dust to railway sleepers and live eels.”
Sounds great (sarcasm here).
It is a book of regulations.
However, Obama says it eliminates 18,000 taxes imposed on US imports.
Apart from the U.S., Japan and Mexico, countries in the trade pact are New Zealand, Australia, Chile, Peru, Canada, Brunei, Singapore, Vietnam and Malaysia.
Article 18:28: Domain Names
This undermines anonymous online expression by requiring governments to keep a public database of real names and addresses associated with country code top level domain names, (such as .us, .au, .ca, etc). This is dangerous especially for the ability of opposition groups in repressive countries to voice their concerns online without fear of violent retribution.
Article 18.63: Term of Protection for Copyright and related Rights
This is one of the most egregious pieces of the deal. It forces the most draconian parts of the U.S.’s broken copyright system on the rest of the world without expanding protections for fair use and free speech. This section requires countries to enforce copyright until 70 years after the creator’s death. This will keep an enormous amount of information, art, and creativity out of the public domain for decades longer than necessary, and allow for governments to abuse copyright laws to censor online content at will, since so much of it will be copyrighted for so long.
Article 18.68: Technological Protection Measures
This section attempts to make it a crime to circumvent any “Digital Rights Management” (DRM) locks on a device, even if you own it. It could criminalize people who unlock their phones in order to use accessibility software, for example, or make it illegal to circumvent DRM on a computer in order to use Linux.
Article 18.69: Rights Management Information
This section criminalizes basic activities that involve removing a Rights Management marker, even if it’s done in the process of creating something totally legal. For example, cropping a photo that has a watermark on it in order to use it as part of a fair use creation or as part of a political protest. And yes, that does include if you give credit elsewhere (like the description of a YouTube video).
Article 18.78: Trade Secrets
Criminalizes the “unauthorized and willful disclosure of a trade secret including via a computer system.” This is clearly intended to stifle whistleblowers and journalism covering the documents they expose – it could criminalize, for example, The Guardian’s reporting on the documents they received from Edward Snowden.
Section J: Internet Service Providers
This is one of the worst sections that impacts the openness of the Internet. This section requires Internet Service Providers to play “copyright cops” and assist in the enforcement of copyright takedown requests – but it does not require countries to have a system for counter-notices, so a U.S company could order a website to be taken down in another country, and there would be no way for the person running that website to refute their claims if, say, it was a political criticism website using copyrighted content in a manner consistent with fair use.
Section J makes it so ISPs are not liable for any wrongdoing when they take down content – incentivizing them to err on the side of copyright holders rather than on the side of free speech.
Additionally, the Trans-Pacific Partnership’s chapter on investments includes intellectual property as a matter that can be included in investor-state dispute settlements (ISDS).
Trump declared war on the trade deal but Rubio has embraced it saying it is part of his three-tiered approach to foreign policy.
Trump has given no specifics.
Special interests like big corporations helped tidy up the details. Corporations included Big Parma, recording studios, agribusinesses et al.
We’l have to get all our pirated music and movies from China from now on.
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), who has been opposed to this trade deal, railed against the “internationalist” and “corporate gurus” who run the US media saying they won’t allow honest debate in order to protect their globalist agenda, Breitbart reported.
The [Paul] Singers, George Soros, even the Koch brothers, Sheldon Adelson and others that are deeply committed to a massive open borders philosophy, really. I’m not exaggerating when I say that. They fundamentally see that a worker in Bangladesh should be able to contract with a business in America and come here, and why should some government force say, “No.” I mean, that’s their fundamental thing. They don’t pay attention to the values and how it impacts the American people.
The deal does have a lot of language that is protective of US sovereignty and the sovereignty of other nations but who knows.
The Communist government in Vietnam has agreed to American terms to grant potentially far-reaching labor rights to the country’s workers, including the freedom to unionize and to strike, in return for expanded trade between the former adversaries, according to the NY Times. It’s part of a side deal of which there are several.
Obama said it will force Vietnam to change their laws and their rules to become more democratic. One has to ask, if they have to change to suit the treaty, will we?
The NY Times reported that “the grass-roots unions would not have to join Vietnam’s government-sanctioned labor confederation, but they could affiliate with each other and seek assistance from any “international worker organization,” like the A.F.L.-C.I.O., for help and training. The agreement also calls for Vietnam’s government to educate workers and employers about the labor changes.”
The bottom line, however, is it is not enforceable. All the deal really allows is for complaints to be taken to a dispute settlement panel.
There is a “joint declaration” that commits them to avoid manipulating their currencies for trade advantage, to report interventions in foreign exchange markets and to meet at least once a year to air any concerns or complaints.
As I just indicated, it’s a separate declaration and not part of the treaty.
There are complaints that the agreement goes beyond traditional trade issues such as tariffs and import quotas and includes giveaways to powerful business lobbies.
Drug companies have eight years of protection – not the 12 they asked for – from cheaper competitors for biologics. The R&D is very expensive and companies need to recoup losses if they are to be expected to continue research.
The left hates that and says people will die.
The treaty does not give unqualified protection and says it “should be interpreted and implemented in a manner supportive of each Party’s [country’s] right to protect public health and, in particular, to promote access to medicines for all.”
The deal allows multinational companies to challenge laws and regulations in private tribunals on the grounds they amount to unfair barriers to trade. It sounds like the beginning of a globalist’s dream and it is a historical change. It does however include safeguards – allegedly – against abusive claims and guarantees governments the right to enforce health, labor, safety and environmental regulations in the public interest. Whatever that means.
Why are we subjected to private tribunals at all? Prior to this, foreign companies had to sue in US courts. This could be the camel’s nose under the tent.
From the treaty:
Panels will be composed of three objective international trade and subject matter experts. Timeframes for selection of arbitrators will be established, including procedures to ensure that the panel can be composed even if a Party fails to appoint an arbitrator within a set period of time.
Information on it can be found on page three of Chapter 28.
Critics are especially concerned about a legal process TPP establishes for enforcing new regulations called “investor-state dispute settlement,” or ISDS. ISDS allows foreign companies to challenge a participating country’s laws before an international tribunal of judges if they think that law excessively limits their investors’ profits. The tribunals have the power to levy fines on the government should they rule in favor of the companies, which could in turn prompt countries to change their laws and deter them from passing similar measures in the future.
ISDS is a feature of many trade agreements which makes these changes far more problematic. It now allows companies to sue governments.
One good bit of climate news is the Sierra Club hates it.
“We now have concrete evidence that the Trans-Pacific Partnership threatens our families, our communities, and our environment. It’s no surprise that the deal is rife with polluter giveaways that would undermine decades of environmental progress, threaten our climate, and fail to adequately protect wildlife because big polluters helped write the deal.
“When it comes to Asia, one of the world’s fastest-growing regions, the rule book is up for grabs. And if we don’t pass this agreement — if America doesn’t write those rules — then countries like China will,” the president said. “And that would only threaten American jobs and workers and undermine American leadership around the world.”
The Congress has to pass it or reject it. They already agreed to an up-and-down vote- no amendments.