from the still-searching... dept
And yet, defenders of the TPP still point to KORUS as the "model" for TPP and talk it up as if it's been a wonderful and successful agreement. However, it seems that others are noticing that there doesn't appear to be any "free trade" in this "free trade agreement." Instead, it's purely mercantilist cronyism, designed to limit economic growth and public welfare, to benefit a few large legacy companies.
Exhibit A was released by WikiLeaks last week: the latest draft of the "intellectual property" chapter of the agreement, one of 24 (out of 29) chapters that do not have to do with trade. This chapter has provisions that will make it easier for pharmaceutical companies to get patents, including in developing countries; have these patents for more years; and extend the ability of these companies to limit access to the scientific data that is necessary for other researchers to develop new medicines. And the United States is even pushing for provisions that would allow surgical procedures to be patented – provisions that may be currently against US law.So why are we increasing protectionism and putting in greater monopoly power in a so-called "free trade" agreement? Because these legacy companies and the USTR long ago learned that if you say something on the label, but then put the exact opposite in the package, the press, the public and plenty of politicians will pretend that what you say on the label is actually in the package.
All of these measures will help raise the price of medicines and health care, which will strain public health systems and price some people out of the market for important medicines. It is interesting to see how much worse the TPP is than the WTO's Trips (Trade-Related Aspects of International Property Rights). This, too, was a massive rip-off of consumers and patients throughout the world, but after years of struggle by health advocates and public interest groups, some of its worst features were attenuated, and further consolidation of pharmaceutical companies' interests were blocked.
But it's time to make this clear: almost nothing in the TPP is about actual free trade. Real free trade can be quite beneficial to all trading partners, increasing efficiency and benefiting everyone. But this is not just fake free trade, it's anti-free trade, promoting protectionist, mercantilist monopolies for big political donor legacy companies, because the USTR either thinks that lining the pockets of big political donors is a good way to keep its friends in power or they know that it'll be easier to secure cushy private sector jobs after securing these "favors."
Either way, the next time someone (especially in the press or the government) claims that the TPP is about "free trade" ask them how. And ask them how increasing monopolies and putting up protectionist trade barriers is free trade.