Not Just In The US: TPP Meeting More Resistance In Australia And Japan, Too

from the it-ain't-over-yet dept

It’s remarkable how TPP, a previously obscure trade deal known only to a few specialists — and to enlightened Techdirt readers, of course — has suddenly become one of the hottest issues in the US Presidential contest. But it’s important to remember that TPP is still a live issue in many of the other participating countries too. Malaysia seems to be the furthest along in the ratification process, and Peru is also moving forward. But there are signs that resistance could be growing, rather than diminishing, in some key nations. For example, the Australian Government’s Productivity Commission has just released its Trade & Assistance Review 2014-15 (pdf), in which it says:

There are provisions in the TPP that the Commission has previously flagged as of questionable benefit. These include term of copyright and the investor state dispute settlement elements.

On the former latter, the report says:

The Australian Government should seek to avoid the inclusion of Investors-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions in bilateral and regional trade agreements that grant foreign investors in Australia substantive or procedural rights greater than those enjoyed by Australian investors.

On copyright, the Productivity Commission warns:

The history of Intellectual Property (IP) being addressed in preferential trade deals has resulted in more stringent arrangements than contained in the multilateral agreed Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS). Australia’s participation in international negotiations in relation to IP laws should focus on plurilateral or multilateral settings. Support for any measures to alter the extent and enforcement of IP rights should be informed by a robust economic analysis of the resultant benefits and costs.

It’s not just Australia’s Productivity Commission that is concerned. As the Guardian reports, Australia’s opposition party, Labor, has also taken a firmer stance against corporate sovereignty chapters in TPP and elsewhere:

The opposition recently promised to review three of the major free-trade agreements signed by the Abbott and Turnbull governments — the Korean FTA, the China FTA and the TPP — in the hope of removing their ISDS clauses.

Labor says it will not accept ISDS clauses in new trade pacts. If existing ISDS clauses can’t be removed, then Labor’s position is stronger safeguards should be imposed on existing agreements to make it harder for corporations to sue the government.

Finally, there’s some trouble brewing in Japan, as The Japan Times notes:

Although the Diet [Japan’s parliament] is expected to resume discussions on the TPP and accompanying bills this autumn, the government is facing headwinds after a number of ruling bloc candidates from the Tohoku region were defeated in the July 10 Upper House election.

Observers say the losses in Tohoku, where farmers wield considerable influence, highlights lingering opposition to the pact.

That’s not to say that TPP is doomed in either Japan or Australia. But coupled with the very real problems in ratifying the deal in the US, these latest developments emphasize that it is by no means certain that TPP will ever come into force.

Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or, and +glynmoody on Google+

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Comments on “Not Just In The US: TPP Meeting More Resistance In Australia And Japan, Too”

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Anonymous Coward says:

about fucking time!! what else has to be taken away from the people, from countries and handed on platters to giant corporations and industries, before the wake up call actually wakes everyone up?? and those who keep lobbying in favor of this and other deals need to be locked up for spreading misinformation and actually trying to defraud the countries and people concerned because the benefits that are supposed to be there, are actually nowhere!!

Almost Anonymous (profile) says:

Well, of course

Malaysia seems to be the furthest along in the ratification process, and Peru is also moving forward.

Since strings were pulled to get people to forget about Malaysia’s human rights abuses and “upgrade” Malaysia’s status on human trafficking, it only makes sense that Malaysia would charge forward. If they don’t, I bet that upgrade would mysteriously disappear…

Anonymous Coward says:

It’s amazing how Hillary switched her position on TPP to overcome Bernie Sanders but she is likely to be willing to switch her position right back as soon as she gets elected or as soon as Bernie is out of the way. What kind of fake democracy is this? Clearly the people do not want TPP and are sick and tired of overreaching IP laws, even politicians know this because they know to oppose these laws during elections, but as soon as they get elected they switch back to these laws. Politicians are taking positions they know the people aren’t interested in.

To all the shills here that claim that IP critics are the minority and try to pretend that they are the majority (despite being unable to start a successful blog of their own because the audience is here since this is the blog that most people agree more with) why is it that politicians know to oppose expanding IP laws during elections? Where are the big crowds of people with signs in favor of TPP and in favor of expanding IP laws? Because I saw huge crowds of people with signs against it. The people don’t want these laws and it’s the corporations that want them and are forcing them upon us undemocratically. This is not acceptable and if the shills around here had any moral conviction whatsoever past their own selfishness they would be opposed to this immoral undemocratic nonsense.

and it is very very dishonest of the media to abuse their media position to mostly ignore this issue as much as they can get away with and to ignore discussing it (though it’s been very hard for them not to show footage of people holding up anti-TPP signs and chanting No-TPP when everyone at the presidential rallies keeps doing it over and over and over) and especially newspapers since it’s much easier for them to ignore it than the media when they shoot video. People should really be slamming the media for allowing their conflict of interest to result in such dishonesty.

Skeeter says:

TPP or Toilet Paper?

I’m still trying to wrap my head around how the TPP is, by large-part, still HIGHLY CLASSIFIED and not released in full to ANY NATION, and yet you have nations exceedingly willing to jump right on this train!

How can you desire a treaty to be enacted in your country, when you can’t even read the whole un-redacted version? This thing has more controls than a leather-bound dominant in a chain-laced dungeon, and NO ONE SEEMS TO CARE! What gives? What is so appealing in the ‘sound bytes version’ that makes these nations want this so badly that ‘the majority are already trying to enact it, before having it approved’?

It covers gun control, trade controls, economic controls, IP controls, and so much more. What, did Nancy Pelosi promise them that they could read it as soon as they approved it? I just don’t get it.

Candescence (profile) says:

The TPP won't be ratified in Australia, period.

Glyn, I think you’re neglecting to mention the political conditions here in Australia that would make it extremely difficult if not impossible for the TPP to be ratified. The government barely returned to power with literally just enough seats to claim majority government.

But that’s not the roadblock – it’s the Senate. Despite the recent election being a double dissolution intended to rid the government of the crossbench senators (minor parties and independents). Labor and the Greens collectively have enough votes to be a serious blockade without crossbench support for any bill, and the government likely needs roughly 9 crossbench senators, with the two big blocs being the Nick Xenophon Team (decent bloke, somewhat protectionist and really hates gambling) and One Nation (aka Pauline Hanson’s racist party, basically our Donald Trump on the racist side of things, the rich business side was Clive Palmer and he didn’t last long), and while the crossbench generally hate each other and will be like herding cats (and the Liberals have absolutely no skill in senate negotiation as they have a “born to rule” mindset), they are generally protectionist and will happily take a sledgehammer to trade agreements, the TPP in particular will be the main target in their sights. And neither Labor nor the Greens will support it.

In other words, even if the US and Japan ratify it, they’ve lost a vital part of the trade agreement by default, despite the US giving in to demands to limit pharma patent protection and bar Big Tobacco from using the ISDS provisions. I imagine some Republican senators really want to strangle Malcom Turnbull for potentially ruining everything.

ape man says:

short hairs

…as in; they have us by the…

Never has it been more imperative in human history to comprehend the bombardment of propaganda from all sides on all issues, big or small, for what they are.

Everybody has their own agenda and they will use every means at their disposal to sway you to “their way of thinking.” Mostly it is with misinformation, or outright lies.

Be aware, be very aware, it’s wabbit season.

Bob (profile) says:

fast track?

Good to see at least one country has the sense to oppose this unconstitutional, new world order favoring diatribe, masquerading as a trade bill.

Fair trade between nations is a worthy goal, but this mess is going to give corporations in one country unprecedented power and leverage over laws in other countries and even states within these countries.

For example, should a company based on Malaysia have the right to sue the state of Oregon because it passed a regulation ( say a food safety or labeling requirement) that affected the profit margins of the Malaysian company’s products?

That’s what TPP grants! A complete uprooting of each signing country’s sovereignty. A travesty that must be stopped.

I wonder if the fast track authority the US Congress gave to Obama for this bill will transfer to the next president, or if that has to be voted again?

Craig Welch (profile) says:

Re: fast track?

For example, should a company based on Malaysia have the right to sue the state of Oregon because it passed a regulation ( say a food safety or labeling requirement) that affected the profit margins of the Malaysian company’s products?

On its own, no.

That’s what TPP grants!

No it doesn’t. For a start, the state of Oregon is not a party to the TPP. But the USA is, and a dispute could be raised with the USA if it is alleged that terms of the Agreement were breached, and as a result the profits of the Malaysian company were threatened.

I wonder if the fast track authority the US Congress gave to Obama for this bill will transfer to the next president, or if that has to be voted again?

FTA is a red herring. Let’s suppose that Congress agrees with most aspects of TPP, except (say) ISDS. With FTA, it can only vote yes or no, so it could only express its displeasure by voting no.

Without FTA, it could debate each clause and, in theory, approve everything except ISDS. Given that the Agreement has been signed, and cannot now be changed, that is the equivalent of a no vote.

What is the difference, apart from more hot air on the Hill?

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: fast track?

What is the difference, apart from more hot air on the Hill?

‘All or nothing’, which is what is comes down to with FTA makes it much harder to kill off an ‘agreement’ without a politician opening themselves up to a PR nightmare as their opponents pick out the few good bits and use the fact that they voted against the entire thing against them.

“They didn’t vote against it because of the ‘Kick an orphan every tuesday’ clause, they voted against improving the economy and increasing jobs.”

Crap to be sure, but effective crap given most politicians think first and foremost about maintaining their position, now and in the future. If that means voting for kicking a few orphans in order to be able to boast about how much they care about jobs, so be it.

‘No’ as a protest vote sounds all well and good, but on something like this there is enormous pressure to pass it from those that bought it and those in office who want to use it for PR/’legacy’ purposes, no matter how many toxic clauses are scattered inside, and FTA means they don’t even have a chance to do something about those clauses.

Or put another way, politicians are an inherently lazy lot, they wouldn’t have spent nearly as much time and effort pushing for FTA if the difference between having it and not having it was that negligible.

rjdriver (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: fast track?

I would guess that those willing to vote Yes on FTA, have already made up their minds to support TPP and are therefore not worried about debating or altering different aspects of it before voting again to pass it.

The vote for FTA was close, so it is not too late to change your reps minds and kill this thing. Let them know how you feel.

Kronomex says:

Now that Turdbull and cronies are in, with a massive 50.25% majority of the overall votes, they’ll thank the Productivity Commission for the report. Then they will take it under “advisement” and ignore it. Must keep the corporations and the US happy. We can only hope the Senate sees sense and blocks this repulsive travesty.

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