1. It’s big
Stepping back from details, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is the biggest trade deal in a generation and part of the same ‘new generation’ of trade deals as TTIP and CETA.
There are 12 countries involved across the Pacific Rim, including the USA, Japan, Canada and Australia – and collectively their economies account for 40% of world output.
2. Like WTO, without the democracy
Like TTIP, it goes well beyond ‘trade’ in the narrow sense – its primary purpose is to rewrite global economic rules in favour of capital – and not just for the countries involved. Other countries already want to come on board.
This is a less democratic version of the World Trade Organization and affects everyone. So it’s a very big deal. Campaigns against it have been huge and countries themselves have had serious political difficulties in getting to this point. So it shows that there’s a big battle now to stop it from being ratified.
3. ‘Containing’ China
It’s also about power and geopolitics between countries. The US is trying to curtail China’s power and make sure that it’s the US that sets rules. China is not part of TPP and so it’s a way of excluding or ‘containing’ China.
4. A huge corporate power grab
Of particular worry is the corporate court system – the Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) that will lead to a massive increase in governments being sued by corporations.
Campaigns on TPP means that it looks like the tobacco sector has been excluded from ISDS, but that’s just a symbol. Corporations would be able to threaten governments across 40% of global economy now.
5. Big Pharma’s patent extensions
Big Pharma has played a big role in pushing for TPP. They’re desperate to extend monopoly power over drugs by extending patents to US standards, which would make them unaffordable for millions of people.
It’s been beaten back – but still looks likely to make things worse in most countries.
6. Rewriting the rules of the internet
Corporations are also trying to expand power over the Internet and use of your data by setting global rules to their advantage. The data rights movement have been up in arms about it.
7. Agribusiness rules OK
Farming standards – TPP would make it more difficult for small farmers to stand up to big agrobusiness as they have to compete directly.
8. Race to the bottom
Despite talk of improving labour standards, like most trade agreements TPP would send work to where it can be done cheaper, resulting in a classic ‘race to the bottom’ and offshoring jobs.
9. It’s controversial – thanks to us!
All this has made TPP very controversial, especially amongst the Democrats. And that means that there is fertile ground to also sow the seeds of doubt about other trade and investment deals like TTIP, the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership between the US and the EU.
10. Congress can still say no
TPP needs to go to the US Congress in coming months. Once they read the actual text – which has been secret until now – more will turn against it. Finally, the secrecy surrounding the text will be lifted, and the fightback will begin in earnest.
At this stage Congress has no power to amend it. All they can do is defeat it altogether. And maybe they will do just that. Both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders have voiced their opposition to the deal, which shows what a political tightrope the deal would have to walk in order to be passed.
11. And so can Canada
And in Canada, elections are coming up, and the opposition party says it won’t feel bound to sign it. So it can still be stopped, and the agreement today will galvanise opposition against it.
12. Coming up next: TTIP
While TPP ratification would strengthen the hand of those pushing for TTIP, failure would threaten it. There’s still everything to play for, on both sides of the Atlantic!