Tag Archives: tpp

A quick look at the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership or Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)

13 May

The Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership or Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a secretive, multi-nation trade agreement that threatens to extend restrictive intellectual property laws across the globe. The nine nations currently negotiating the TPP are the U.S., Australia, Peru, Malaysia, Vietnam, New Zealand, Chile, Singapore, and Brunei Darussalam. Like ACTA, the TPP is being negotiated in secret, and on a fast timetable. We don’t know what’s in the TPP IP chapter, or even what the U.S. trade representative is pushing for in this agreement. There is mounting criticism of the U.S. role in pushing the negotiations forward in secrecy, despite the public’s overwhelming disagreement with TPP goals.

“The TPP has been branded as a trade ‘negotiation’ by its corporate proponents, but in reality it’s a place for big business to get its way behind closed doors,” said Pete Rokicki of Occupy Dallas. “This anti-democratic maneuver can be stopped if the public gets active—just look at the movement that killed the ill-advised SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) law a few months ago. That’s why Obama’s trade officials lock the public, the press and even members of Congress from the trade negotiation process.”

One of the major criticisms is the lack of transparency. Trade agreements are often negotiated in secret, but it is the inclusion of a chapter on copyright and other IP measures that has people focusing on the TPP, much in the same way as people protested the discarded IP legislation SOPA/PIPA, other trade agreements like ACTA, and the provisions on IP legislation that were subsequently removed from CISPA.

There has been criticism of some provisions relating to the enforcement of patents and copyrights alleged to be present in leaked copies of the US proposal for the agreement. Overall, the USTR proposal for the TPP intellectual property chapter would:

  • Include a number of features that would lock-in as a global norm many controversial features of U.S. law, such as endless copyright terms.
  • Create new global norms that are contrary to US legal traditions, such as those proposed to damages for infringement, the enforcement of patents against surgeons and other medical professional, rules concerning patents on biologic medicines etc.
  • Undermine many proposed reforms of the patent and copyright system, such as, for example, proposed legislation to increase access to orphaned copyrighted works by limiting damages for infringement, or statutory exclusions of “non-industrial” patents such as those issued for business methods.
  • Would eliminate any possibility of parallel trade in copyrighted books, journals, sheet music, sound recordings, computer programs, and audio and visual works.
  • Requires criminal enforcement for technological measures beyond WIPO Internet Treaties, even when there is not copyright infringement, impose a legal regime of ISP liability beyond the DMCA standards.
  • Requires legal incentives for service providers to cooperate with copyright owners in deterring the unauthorized storage and transmission of copyrighted materials.
  • Requires identifying internet users for any ISP, going beyond U.S. case law, includes the text of the controversial US/KOREA side letter on shutting down web sites.
  • Requires adopting compensation for infringement without actual damages.
  • For copyright and trademark, criminal punishment would apply even to non-for-profit infringement.

The proposals have been accused of being excessively restrictive, providing intellectual property restraints beyond those in the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement and ACTA.

The US trade representative is clamping down on public participation to minimize the spread of information which challenges their hard-line IP maximalist agenda that seeks to empower corporations at the expense of public health and knowledge. In addition to increasing reliance on intersessionals, like this week’s Santiago meeting, where stakeholders are not given a forum to participate, USTR has now effectively reduced stakeholder participation in the official negotiating rounds by eliminating their opportunity to give presentations to negotiators in an official forum.

SOPA’s defeat proved that the netroots can beat IP maximalism and rulemakings from Washington designed to curb Internet freedom, while the populist response to ACTA has shown that policy laundering attempts by industry and their allies in government will face serious resistance. Ambitious, secret economic agreements have been defeated before through public awareness and organizing.

Maine Demands That The US Be More Open And Transparent In TPP & Other International Trade Negotiations

19 Mar

As the administration continues to be ridiculously secretive about negotiations on the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, it seems that even various state governments are growing concerned about the process. The Maine state legislature issued a joint resolution demanding that the administration be much more open in how it negotiates international trade agreements. The resolution states that it strongly supports good international agreements, but that they need to be open and transparent. It notes that the lack of transparency has meant that trade negotiations have come to agreements against states’ own interests and that the negotiators do not consult the states, despite the massive impact these agreements have on state economies. Then it specifically calls out the TPP, and says that the administration must improve the process. Here’s just a few of the lines from the resolution, though you can read the whole thing at the link above.

WHEREAS, existing trade agreements have effects that extend significantly beyond the bounds of traditional trade matters, such as tariffs and quotas, and can undermine Maine’s regulatory authority and constitutionally guaranteed authority to protect the public health, safety and welfare; and 

WHEREAS, a succession of federal trade negotiators from both political parties over the years has failed to operate in a transparent manner and failed to meaningfully consult with states on the far-reaching impact of trade agreements on state and local laws, even when binding the State of Maine to the terms of these agreements; and 

WHEREAS, the negative effect of existing trade agreements on Maine’s regulatory authority and constitutionally guaranteed authority to protect the public health, safety and welfare has occurred in part because United States trade policy has been formulated and implemented in a process that lacks transparency, fails to properly recognize the principles of state sovereignty and lacks any meaningful opportunity for congressional review and acceptance; and 

WHEREAS, the United States Trade Representative is currently negotiating the terms of a proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, which will have a significant effect upon the citizens and commerce of the State of Maine; and 

WHEREAS, there is a current opportunity for improving the process by which significant foreign trade policy agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement are negotiated; now, therefore, be it 

RESOLVED: That We, your Memorialists, respectfully urge and request the President of the United States and the Congress of the United States to improve the process by which United States trade agreements are developed and implemented in order to encourage meaningful transparency and appropriately acknowledge the vital role of state sovereignty and afford more meaningful opportunity for congressional review and acceptance

When even the state governments are complaining about the lack of transparency in trade negotiations that impact them, can the USTR really continue to pretend that there are no problems with the way it goes about these negotiations?