Trans-Pacific Partnership returns, without Trump but more 'comprehensive'

And still secret, so we can't say if Silicon Valley's fair use booster survived

By Richard Chirgwin


The Trans-Pacific Partnership has been successfully been defibrillated by eleven nations that decided they could still do a deal even though United States president Donald Trump pulled his nation out of the trade pact.

It's emerged with a new name, the Comprehensive Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership, CPTPP. As was the case throughout negotiations of the first deal, there's no text for the proposed treaty. Just what Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam signed up for therefore remains obscure.

Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull's bullet-points emphasise agricultural deals – beef, cheese, wheat and rice sales to Japan, and sugar sales to Japan, Canada and Mexico. Over time, the eleven countries will also get rid of tariffs on “sheep meat, cotton, wool, seafood, horticulture, wine and industrial products (manufactured goods).”

There are also “legally enforceable commitments on the way countries regulate foreign investment”.

The prime minister's statement says once it's undergone a legal review, the final text will be published on a “date to be agreed by all parties”.

The original TPP contained copyright and fair use provisions that Silicon Valley applauded, but which were not welcomed by content creators. It's uncertain if those ideas made it into the new treaty, or if the contentious investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS).

ISDS has been increasingly contentious in all trade treaties, not just the TPP (sorry, CPTPP). It sets a process allowing companies to sued governments if regulation harms their business; the most common example is how Philip Morris took Australia to a trade court over “plain packaging” of cigarettes (the smokes-seller lost).

The fear is that if the CPTPP favors companies too strongly in the CPTPP, it will hamper governments ability to pass environmental and health legislation.

In October 2017, Canada published this list of provisions that have been dropped from the deal, with several ISDS items in the list.

However, the secrecy surrounding the CPTPP means it's hard to know the status of the provisions in the negotiating text. ®

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