WikiLeaks Wants To Crowdsource $100K Reward For Leak Of TPP Text, As Doubts Grow About Agreement's Value
from the fanciful-geopolitics dept
The TPP saga is entering a critical phase. After the excitement of the initial rejection of Trade Promotion Authority (TPA -- "fast track") in the Senate, followed by the vote in its favor shortly afterwards, attention is now focused on the House, where the outcome is still in doubt. Meanwhile, Australian politicians have finally been granted access to the negotiating text -- but under humiliating conditions, as The Guardian reports:
They were told they could view the current TPP negotiating text on Tuesday "subject to certain confidentiality requirements" and were shown a document they would be required to sign before any viewing.
Here are some of the "confidentiality requirements" (pdf) the politicians were obliged to sign up to:
I will not divulge any of the text or information obtained in the briefing to any party.
The following condition is interesting:
I will not copy, transcribe or remove the negotiating text.
I therefore agree that these confidentiality requirements shall apply for four years after entry into force of the TPP, or if no agreement enters into force, for four years after the last round of negotiations.
This confirms what Techdirt wrote back in 2011: that aside from the final agreement, all the other negotiating texts will be kept secret for four years after the conclusion of the talks. And yet, bad as the Australian deal is, it's more than the public gets when it comes to accessing the text being negotiated in its name. Fortunately, we have WikiLeaks, which has already published three chapters of TPP, and now hopes to leak the rest:
Today WikiLeaks has launched a campaign to crowd-source a $100,000 reward for America’s Most Wanted Secret: the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP).
As we wait for those leaks, the only thing we have to fall back on are the economic models, which try to predict what effects TPP might have, based on various assumptions. The Economist has been reviewing the results:
The most influential, by Peter Petri, Michael Plummer and Fan Zhai, for the East-West Centre, a research institute, forecasts that the deal would raise the GDP of the 12 signatories by $285 billion, or 0.9%, by 2025. It is their numbers that America's government cites when it says TPP will make the country $77 billion richer.
But other researchers predict far more modest gains from TPP:
[The researchers Ciuriak and Xiao] calculate that TPP will raise the GDP of the 12 countries by just $74 billion by 2035, a mere 0.21% higher than baseline forecasts. Others see an even smaller impact. In a paper for the Asian Development Bank Institute, Inkyo Cheong forecasts that America's GDP will be entirely unchanged by TPP.
Given those small, perhaps non-existent, economic benefits, it's perhaps not surprising that US proponents of TPP have shifted their emphasis, claiming that TPP is not so much about economics, as about geopolitical influence -- President Obama's famous "pivot to Asia." A perceptive analysis in the Boston Globe explains why that makes no sense:
The administration's geopolitical case for TPP is fanciful. In the real world, there is no way that new rules for trans-Pacific trade, written without regard to China and without Chinese participation, will somehow pivot the United States into a lasting position of supremacy in China’s backyard.
That means that as well as offering the US marginal economic benefits at best, TPP might also damage its chances of engaging meaningfully with China. Sadly, it's probably too much to hope that US politicians will pay much attention to either point once the next round of Congressional haggling over TPA starts again.
Four basic facts explain why that is so: First, China is now everybody's biggest trading partner, including America's prospective partners in TPP. Second, the Chinese market represents the major growth opportunity for all these nations.
Third, whatever their concerns about China's increasing military power, Asian leaders have no interest in distancing themselves economically from China -- or from the supply chains that converge there. Fourth, most economists expect China's economic growth will continue to be much faster than that of the United States.