International Divisions and Slow Pace Plaguing TPP Negotiations?

ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) may be on the ropes in Europe, but it isn’t the only deeply concerning agreement making the rounds. The TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) is another international agreement that is currently under negotiations which is promised to have even more draconian copyright laws. As we’re currently finding out, it seems that deep divisions between the negotiations appear to be hampering progress of this secretive agreement as well.

Note: This is an article I wrote that was published elsewhere first. It has been republished here for archival purposes

There’s been numerous threats to the Internet in recent years. There’s SOPA/PIPA (US legislation), ACTA, CETA, and TPP to name just a few of them. While understanding the complexity of each and every one of these is mind-bogglingly complex and daunting, it doesn’t make the threat any less real. Last month, we reminded you of what is in the agreement while updating you on what was happening with it in the process and mentioned that the Australian Pirate Party said how the TPP has no economic benefit.

Today, we wanted to find out what has been happening lately with the agreement. It turns out, things are starting to get rather divisive between the negotiating countries. In fact, these divisions seem to be slowing down the agreement, possibly stalling negotiations in some cases. So, what has caused these divisions in the first place? Are European countries once again citing privacy concerns? Are the fears that ACTA might be dying causing some to start backing out of it all? Are the draconian copyright laws too excessive for some countries? The answer to all of the above, interestingly enough is “no”.

Reuters has some interesting news from the agreement negotiations:

“No decisions were made on the entry of any of these TPP candidates,” USTR said, adding consultations would continue.

Russia is hosting the annual Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum this year, and trade ministers from the 21 member economies gathered in Kazan for talks on Monday and Tuesday. The nine TPP countries are also members of APEC, as are the three applicants.

U.S. industry and members of Congress have raised a number of concerns about Japan’s bid to join the TPP negotiations, fearing that Tokyo is not prepared to address longstanding U.S. concerns about access to its automotive market or to liberalize services and agricultural trade.

Canada is under pressure to agree to reform its agricultural supply management programs, while Mexico is generally regarded as being in the best position of the three to join the talks.

So, there are numerous issues coming up that caused decisions to end up in a stalemate. While there were interesting notes on countries joining, what about the countries already involved? One Japanese news source offered some insight into the matter:

Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Yukio Edano met with U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk held talks Monday, but apparently failed to make progress in the opening of the Japanese automobile, insurance and beef markets.

The three markets are liberalization targets the United States has been most interested in during the slow-moving bilateral preliminary talks on Japan’s participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade negotiations.


During bilateral negotiations on Japan’s participation in the TPP, which began in February, Washington has repeatedly brought up demands from domestic industries and lawmakers regarding the further liberalization of the three Japanese markets.

It’s really starting to sound like the TPP is starting to suffer from the same problems of ACTA. If ACTA had kept to just dealing with counterfeiting physical products, I don’t think it would suffer a lot the problems it’s facing now. The complexity has made a contribution towards its demise. Now, here we have the substantially more complex TPP agreement which has somehow managed to include issues of copyright, agriculture, automotive and who knows how many others all rolled in to one agreement. If various stakeholders wanted this agreement to conclude its negotiation phase, I don’t think making it really complex and involving so many countries really helps at all. If ACTA is anything to go by, I suspect that the complexity of TPP is going to come back and haunt negotiators somewhere along the line because there’s eventually going to be an issue that different countries will never come to a consensus on, thus destabilizing the prospects of ever concluding negotiations that result in an actual finalized agreement in the first place. We could very well see a lot of really scary intellectual property laws get kicked to the curb thanks to an issue completely unrelated to intellectual property.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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