The world once again finds itself in the situation where the notorious TPP agreement has been signed.
More than two years ago, human and digital rights advocates and organizations found themselves in an increasingly scary situation. The Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement had been signed despite widespread outcry from the citizens of every country that is involved in the agreement. Provisions in the agreement at the time was said to have a negative impact on everything ranging from digital rights, the environment, sovereignty, human rights, and a whole lot more. All of this to appease multi-national corporations who stood to benefit greatly from the many provisions including the infamous InterState Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions.
From a digital rights perspective, the agreement at the time contained provisions that looked more like a laundry list of demands from organizations like the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), and other similar organizations. You can read our independent analysis of the text at the time. Reading the text of the agreement had everything to do with lawmaking and almost nothing to do with actual trade. Thus, many consider the TPP a “trade” agreement because it was basically a trade agreement in name only as far as many chapters were concerned.
In January of last year, though, then newly elected president Donald Trump signed an executive order to pull out of the agreement. That move threw the agreement into chaos because that effectively killed the agreement as it stood. Of course, with so much at stake from corporate interests, it ultimately was inevitable that there would be a push to resurrect the agreement.
As time went on, there was a glimmer of hope that with the US out of the picture, the nastier provisions would be removed. Last month, the final text was released (without the side letters). We ran our own analysis again of the new TPP agreement. What is now being delivered is ultimately a mixed bag from a digital rights perspective. A lot of the worst provisions are removed, but some concerns still persist. At this stage, there is concerns over the fact that the ISDS provisions are still in there.
Now, news is surfacing that the 11 countries that remain in the TPP agreement have now signed the agreement. From the South China Morning Post:
But the revamped deal, now known as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), is still a significant achievement that sends a message of openness, its supporters said ahead of the signing ceremony in Santiago, Chile.
The pact will include Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam, representing together 13.5 per cent of global gross domestic product.
The 11 states form a market of 500 million people, greater than that of the European Union’s single market.
“While taxes are going to be applied to certain products and there is a threat of a trade war, we are going to give a signal of openness,” said Chilean Foreign Minister Heraldo Munoz.
Word is now just hitting Canadian media outlets. From Global News:
Eleven countries signed a landmark Asia-Pacific trade agreement in Santiago on Thursday, as an antidote to the increasingly protectionist bent of the United States, which last year pulled out of the pact.
The signing ceremony came the day after Europe and the International Monetary Fund urged U.S. President Donald Trump to step back from the brink of a trade war sparked by plans to slap duties on steel and aluminum imports.
So, at this point, more than two years later, history is repeating itself. The TPP is looming over 11 different countries. So, what is next? At this stage, the next step is ratification. That means that laws have to be passed in the countries respective governments to make the provisions law.
So, there is still time for citizens to oppose the agreement, however, the clock is now ticking if there is any hope in fighting this. With the US out of the way, that marks one less impediment from this moving forward. As a result, something else must come into play for this agreement to falter. What that is remains to be seen.