While many count the infamous Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement dead, it seems some countries are moving ahead with ratification anyway.
The TPP is known for being the agreement that notoriously contains provisions that would crack down civil liberties on a massive scale. Among the provisions were provisions that would basically introduce unlimited damage awards for copyright infringement, lengthen copyright terms, eliminate privacy for domain name owners, introduce criminal penalties for circumventing a DRM, mandate government level spying to search for copyright infringement online, mandate authorities to enforce copyright laws even when infringement hasn’t even taken place, and mandate border agents to take away your cell phone at the border so they can search it for copyright infringing material. A small sampling of the many provisions in the agreement.
Of course, if you follow the agreement closely, you may recall US president Donald Trump signing an executive order to pull the US out of the agreement back in January. At the time, a vast majority of observers of the agreement (both proponents and opponents) concluded that the TPP is now dead. This is because the agreement requires a certain percentage of the worlds GDP to be represented by the signatories before it can become law. With the US out, the agreement is effectively dead.
Or is it?
Another curious thing happened while the US was being pulled out of the agreement. Japan decided to ratify the agreement. The move puzzled many observers because why ratify an agreement that is now dead? Some might make references to domestic politics happening. Others thought that Japan somehow knows something other don’t. Maybe Japan was just being clever on the international stage. Whatever the reasoning, news since the collapse of the agreement died down. Only the occasional murmurs of wanting to somehow salvage the deal remained.
Now comes the equally surprise move by New Zealand, another signatory country to the TPP. According to RadioNZ, the New Zealand government has today ratified the agreement. From the report:
Trade Minister Todd McClay said the move sent a clear message that New Zealand saw “value in a common set of high-quality rules across the Asia-Pacific”.
“We are keeping all of our options open.”
Japan has also ratified the agreement, but the deal can not go ahead without the United States, which has pulled out.
But Mr McClay said the TPP remained valuable both economically and strategically, and New Zealand was still actively exploring alternative options for the agreement.
He said he expected other TPP partners to also ratify in the coming months.
The comments and the move raise a whole lot of questions. Why now? What has changed since January that makes this a good idea? Have other signatory countries convinced a country like China to hop on board to fulfil the economic requirement? Do they feel that there is a way to rope the US back into the agreement somehow?
A lot about this doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for the time being. What we do know is that, for whatever reason, there is suddenly movement on this file.