After Pulling An All-Nighter, Negotiators Finish TPP; But Don't Expect To See The Text For A While

from the wait-and-wait-and-wait-and-wait dept

After negotiators failed to complete negotiations on the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement a few months ago in Maui, there was some concern as to whether or not they’d ever be able to finish the agreement. They called a special negotiating session in Atlanta that began last week, and was supposed to last just a few days to “iron out the details.” Except that got extended. And then extended again. And after promises of an announcement last night, they apparently brought in boxes of pizza and told reporters they were going to pull an all nighter to complete the agreement.

Because, of course, when trying to complete an agreement that could reshape global norms on investment, regulations, intellectual property and a little bit of trade… staying up all night sounds like a grand idea.

And just like you after staying up all night before your college finals, negotiators think that this all-nighter worked. This morning they announced a final deal.

But also that it won’t be public for maybe a month or so. And then there will be some debate over it, but thanks to Congress caving in on fast track authority, Congress has almost no ability to point out flaws in the agreement. They can only give it a clean yes or no vote. In the announcement, negotiators (not surprisingly) played up all the tariffs that will be wiped out by this agreement. That’s the one part that I’m fine with. Trade tariffs are a mostly bad idea, and getting rid of them is fine. But the TPP is not about trade. That’s just a pretext.

The key parts are really about regulations and investment. Indeed, two of the big sticking points concerning patent-like exclusive rights on certain new pharmaceutical compounds (“biologics”), where the US was pushing for at least 12-year exclusivity periods to drive up the price of drugs around the globe, while Australia and other countries were pushing for five years. It sounds like there was a compromise that allows for a range from five to eight years, but, again, who the hell knows until we see the details. At the press conference, negotiators refused to give any details, other than suggesting they came up with text that pretends to satisfy everyone. That is, officially it’s five years but there are “other regulations” that bring things closer to the US’s demanded 12 years. Another point of contention was on the infamous corporate sovereignty provision, officially called “investor state dispute settlement” (ISDS), which is a boring sounding name for saying that foreign companies can take entire countries to special tribunals if they feel that new regulations in those countries negatively impact profits. These tribunals are a joke and put corporate interests over sovereign country interests.

The one real “compromise” here is that the agreement apparently excludes tobacco companies. As we’ve noted a few times in the past, tobacco companies have used these corporate sovereignty provisions in other trade agreements to sue countries that pass anti-smoking laws of any kind. Last year, the US floated this compromise idea, that if tobacco companies were excluded, the rest of ISDS would remain in place. And it sounds like that’s what happened.

Either way, at some point the final text will be revealed and then there will be lots of shouting and screaming, but rest assured that the USTR and the Obama administration are going to fight like crazy to get this approved, because they (very stupidly) see this as part of Obama’s “legacy.” The compromises may make things a bit more difficult, because the compromises on pharmaceuticals and tobacco will piss off two of the biggest lobbyists in support of the agreement.

From the sound of things, the rest of the intellectual property chapter hasn’t changed much since the May version leaked. It’s unclear if the USTR ever did push for clearer fair use provisions as was rumored. Chances are they’re not in there, but, again, we won’t know for a bit, because… “secret trade deal.”

And, really, the most sickening part in all of this, beyond the efforts to increase drug prices globally, beyond the efforts to extend copyright terms, beyond the efforts to limit fair use, beyond the efforts to give companies corporate sovereignty over nations… is the ridiculous willingness of the US government to look the other way on human trafficking/slave labor. As you may recall, part of the fast track authority was that this agreement could not include countries designated as human trafficking hot spots. Malaysia, one of the negotiating countries was included in that list. But, no problem, the State Department, for purely political purposes, upgraded Malaysia, even though the country has shown no improvement at all, and just two months earlier police had found 139 mass graves found along a path where migrant workers had been trafficked.

What a “legacy” for President Obama: “compromising” in a way that helps big companies sue countries that pass bad legislation, drive up the price of drugs, decrease access to culture… and look the other way on human trafficking. And now it’s a “done” deal.

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Comments on “After Pulling An All-Nighter, Negotiators Finish TPP; But Don't Expect To See The Text For A While”

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48 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

So like

We have the Geneva Conventions for war crimes, but nothing about international treaties created in secret?

Why does everyone constantly forget what Wars are fought over? Power, Money, & resources. No one ever fights over slavery, human rights, or justice… if we did there would be a lot less dictators running around. We are now just setting up the field for a new world war when a group of nations decide they are tired of getting fucked over and want their own economy, power, or resources.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: So like

And what would he have to say?

Claiming victory over slavery, human rights or justice is different from those being the issues that drove war in the first place.

In that case, the reasons for war were almost purely economic, with lots of political rhetoric to get the backing of the people.

Kind of like what we see here.

Mason Wheeler (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: So like

The reasons for slavery were purely economic in the first place, as were the reasons for the acts of secession and rebellion that triggered the war, with lots of political rhetoric to get the backing of the people of the South. That doesn’t make any of it any less about slavery, when you get down to it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: The "Intelligence" agencies have the last laugh

It’s the intelligence agencies that will have the last laugh. In ay investor-state dispute that rises up to a level that they care, the intelligence agencies are going to just start blackmailing everyone involved to get their way. It will be fun to watch as the formerly friendly intelligence agencies try to one up each other on who can produce the most dirt about all the players in the dispute.

Anonymous Coward says:

Predicting it right now….

The text of the TPP will be “released” for the public to read at 11pm EST on December 24, in a desperate attempt to keep the press coverage as close to zero as possible.

There is absolutely nothing these slimebags won’t do to get their precious TPP enshrined in law. Keeping the press coverage as close to zero as possible is a major key in getting the deal signed.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

You’re not thinking nearly sleazy enough.

Delays followed by ‘miscommunications’, searching for the ‘proper’ forms and authorizations before releasing documents, claiming that what’s blatantly written isn’t nearly as bad as it could have been, utterly ignoring how bad it is, ‘accidentally’ forgetting to release certain parts until people specifically ask for them, and then dragging their feet regarding releasing those parts…

Given the utter secrecy that has infused the ‘negotiations’ so far, and the overwhelming contempt they’ve shown towards the public and it’s concerns, I fully expect that those involved will do everything in their power to continue to hide any real details from the public until it becomes a moot point, maintaining a condescending and dismissive attitude the entire time.

Anonymous Coward says:

Let the whitewashing begin! I’ve read a number of early reports and none of the controversial aspects are mentioned. What do newspapers do, print direct from the press release? Afterall, what could go wrong with fourty multi nationals and countries negotiating a trade/policy agreement in secret that the public had no say into?

mattshow (profile) says:

Meanwhile, here in Canada, we have an election in two weeks. The Conservative Party (the party that is currently in power and which negotiated the TPP on Canada’s behalf) is by no means guaranteed to be returning to power. The other two major parties haven’t seen the final text, so who knows what position they’ll take when they do.

There’s a decent chance that our government will change in two weeks and the new government won’t support the agreement and will refuse to sign on.

So that’s fun.

Anonymous Coward says:

Made Public

“But also that it won’t be public for maybe a month or so”
Are you sure about that? Because for the TTIP (read the I) the thing won’t be made public for 5 years after completion. If the public can view the TTp in a view the TTP a view weeks after it is law than congrats to you but I kind of doubt that.

AI says:

Re: Made Public

It’s part of the compromise they made with TPA or “Fast Track” law. Obama and USTR have to show TPP to the public for at least 30 days before Congress starts voting on it. Obama also have to give a 90-Day notice before signing TPP. The same will apply to TTIP when it gets completed and put up for ratification (Expected Early 2016).

Anonymous Coward says:

Trade Tariffs

It’s being reported here, in New Zealand that Fonterra [a farmers co-op that markets our dairy products globally] is pissed off that New Zealand failed to get dairy tariffs dropped in the US, Canada, Mexico and Japan. The US was worried about our cheaper, higher quality product undercutting US farmers.
It would seem that NZ and Australia stuck their heels in over pharmaceuticals and as such prices won’t go up here.
No word on IP or copyright – I suspect NZ will be increasing terms at some point soon ( we are on life + 50 here, and have a massive, easily determined public domain).

Anonymous Coward says:

Protest much

“As you may recall, part of the fast track authority was that this agreement could not include countries designated as human trafficking hot spots. Malaysia, one of the negotiating countries was included in that list. But, no problem, the State Department, for purely political purposes, upgraded Malaysia”

wow, seems ironic for a blog that regularly talks about how the US list of worst copyright protection countries is bullshit, suddenly can’t figure out just how much bullshit the human slavery list is.
Do you really think any of those ‘lists’ the US government makes means jack shit? They just took Cuba off of those terror lists a few weeks ago overnight, after it opened up its embassy. If the list was justified they wouldn’t have removed them from it in the first place. Those lists are just another sword the US uses to wave around the world to seem more ‘moral’ or ‘in the right’

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