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, 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.
Finally, there's some trouble brewing in Japan, as The Japan Times notes:
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.
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.
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.
Observers say the losses in Tohoku, where farmers wield considerable influence, highlights lingering opposition to the pact.