The TPP has probably been stopped in the United States and perhaps will be elsewhere, but the harmfulness its provisions have will take new forms in other ways in the future. A real agreement on “free trade” would be only a few pages long, saying that such countries signing on would agree to abolish tariffs and barriers to trade. How the TPP is over 5000 pages long and was negotiated in secrecy reveals it is poisonous corporate-managed trade, but of course, there’s a lot of garbage articles and talk in the mass media that claims otherwise. This is because the vast majority of media in the U.S. is controlled by a few major corporations.
We’re calling it: today is the day the TPP died.
Nevertheless, the battle against the deal is not over. Why not? Because the other TPP countries are still in the process of passing their implementing legislation, which contains all of the worst measures in the TPP that we have been fighting against for the last six years–including the extension of the term of copyright, the strict rules against DRM circumvention, the tough criminal penalties against those who infringe copyright or who leak trade secrets, and the prohibition against mandates to review source code for bugs and backdoors. Countries that continue along the path of passing their implementing legislation will end up in the worst of all possible worlds–having accepted all the US demands on copyright and other digital policies, but without receiving any trade benefits from the United States in exchange.
Here are the “red light countries” in which ratification of the TPP is imminent:
Japan’s House of Representatives is literally due to ratify the TPP this week, though we have no news that this has in fact happened.
New Zealand has already introduced its enabling legislation, which is awaiting only its third reading before it attains the force of law.
The Malaysian Senate already ratified the agreement on January 28, though the actual implementing legislation has not yet been introduced.
In the remaining countries, ratification of the deal is less far advanced:
Until January 27 Canada’s House of Commons Committee on International Trade is receiving submissions on the question of ratification of the TPP.
Mexico also began Senate hearings on the TPP this week [Spanish], but has yet to introduce implementing legislation.
Vietnam has decided to hold off ratifying the TPP for now, and yesterday’s news will likely have strengthened that position.
Although Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has been one of its chief cheerleaders, no legislation implementing the TPP has yet been introduced.
Brunei’s government has indicated that it intends to ratify the TPP within two years, but has taken no steps towards doing this yet.
In Peru, the TPP is being debated in the Foreign Relations Committee of the Congress, where it reportedly faces tough odds.
Chile’s trade ministry has been promoting the benefits of the TPP domestically, but it has not yet been introduced to Congress for ratification.
In Australia a Senate Inquiry on implementation of the TPP is currently in session, with a view to the possible ratification of the TPP in 2017.
The death of the TPP in the United States does not necessarily mean that these implementation plans will be scrapped. Even without the force of law of an international agreement, the US Trade Representative can use soft pressure such as its annual Special 301 Report to encourage other countries to follow through with their unilateral commitments under the TPP, on the premise that these implement supposed international best practices. Industry lobbies such as the International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA) and its national affiliates will also be likely to maintain their pressure for the ratcheting up of levels of foreign copyright protection and enforcement, regardless of the TPP’s demise.
Pressure from rights holder lobby groups will now shift from the TPP to alternative trade agreements, most notably the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) which remains under negotiation between many of the same countries–but excluding the United States, and including China and India. It is ironic that Donald Trump’s position against the TPP was largely premised on the assumption that it would benefit China. In fact, it is the TPP’s demise that will benefit China more, by elevating the importance of the RCEP. We can now expect that the remaining RCEP negotiating rounds will become the focus of intense lobbying to transplant the TPP’s copyright and e-commerce rules into that alternative instrument in an effort to salvage some benefit to US rights holders from an agreement that excludes the United States as a party.