President Donald Trump made it a campaign promise that he would withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement. Earlier today, he followed through on that promise and signed an executive order doing just that.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement has been a hugely controversial deal for years. While many different groups have blasted the agreement for different legitimate reasons, we’ve been focused on what the agreement means for digital rights.
In our lengthy clause-by-clause analysis, we have uncovered many revelations on what the TPP means. This includes the destruction of privacy rights for domain name registrants, the creation of the TPP commission, the lengthening of copyright terms for some countries, the addition of criminal liability for circumventing a DRM (Digital Rights Management), government mandated spying to monitor copyright infringement online, unlimited damages for copyright infringement, an ability to enforce copyright even before infringement even takes place, and mandating border security to seize your cellphone at the border to enforce copyright laws.
All this goes on top of concerns related to ISDS provisions (Inter-State dispute Settlement). These provisions allow corporations to sue countries for creating laws that gets in their way of profits or future potential profits.
To say the agreement was controversial is an understatement. Major organizations like the EFF participated in massive protests against the agreement. As revelations of the agreement spread, protests in the various TPP countries emerged including countries like Peru. The global movement against the TPP continued in the streets in the US.
Despite the near universal condemnation, politicians gathered in New Zealand, turned a blind eye to their citizens, and signed the agreement in February of last year in an effort to appease international corporations who stand to be the ones to gain from the agreement. It was at that point that things began looking rather bleak.
Today, a major turn around. With the unexpected election of Donald Trump, many things that seemed so certain were suddenly up in the air. One of the campaign planks Trump ran on was the scrapping of the TPP. While it is unlikely he was thinking of digital rights when he promised that, this would be the unintended benefit of this campaign promise. Today, he followed through on that promise and signed an executive order to pull out of the agreement.
As the CBC reports, the move sparked varying responses from politicians:
Prominent Republican — and frequent Trump critic — Senator John McCain of Arizona was quick to criticize the decision, releasing a statement calling it a “serious mistake.”
“This decision will forfeit the opportunity to promote American exports, reduce trade barriers, open new markets and protect American invention and innovation,” McCain said. “It will create an opening for China to rewrite the economic rules of the road.”
On the other side of the political aisle, Vermont Senator and erstwhile presidential candidate Bernie Sanders cautiously welcomed the move.
“I am glad the Trans-Pacific Partnership is dead and gone. For the last 30 years, we have had a series of trade deals — including the North American Free Trade Agreement … which have cost us millions of decent-paying jobs and caused a ‘race to the bottom,’ which has lowered wages for American workers,” Sanders said.
“Now is the time to develop a new trade policy that helps working families, not just multi-national corporations. If President Trump is serious about a new policy to help American workers then I would be delighted to work with him.”
Because the agreement is so complex, it will definitely take a while to figure out what the implications are for the US pulling out of the TPP. More specifically, how will this affect other major trade agreements beyond the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). After all, there are other agreements such as the Trans-Atlantic Investment Trade Partnership (TTIP) and the Trades in Services Agreement (TiSA) still being worked on.
Another angle would be political ramifications. Will there be a bi-partisan revolt from the Democrats and Republicans as they seek to find a different way to pass the agreement? Will the remaining countries try to pass the agreement without the US? If Trump seeks new trade deals individually with other countries, will provisions get put into those agreements as found in the TPP? Would bills be tabled in the US Congress or the Senate that would push the provisions found in the TPP anyway?
Regardless, there are a lot of questions that are being asked at this point in time. While there is a lot of uncertainty of what all this means, one thing is certain: few people are looking at this news and saying that this move does not represent a major blow to the agreement itself. Only time will tell how things will shake out after this development.