On November 13, 2013, WikiLeaks published a section of a trade agreement called the Trans-Pacific Partnership Treaty, or TPP. On the surface, the treaty is meant to facilitate trade between the twelve potential member countries: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, United States, and Vietnam. However, there are a number of red flags surrounding the agreement.
Eight hundred million people, and one-third of all world trade, stand to be affected by this treaty, and yet, only three people from each member nation have access to the entire document. Meanwhile, 600 “corporate advisers,” representing big oil, pharmaceutical, and entertainment companies, are involved in the writing and negotiations of the treaty.
The influence of these companies is clear, as large sections of the proposal involve corporate law and intellectual property rights, rather than free trade. Corporations could gain the ability to sue governments not only for loss, but prospective loss. At the same time, patents and copyrights would see more protection. This means longer patents, leading to less access to generic drugs, and a lockdown on Internet content.
Though the WikiLeaks exposure was followed quickly by an anti-TPP push in Congress, what is perhaps the most disconcerting is lack of coverage in corporate U.S. media. Japan, Australia, and even Russian media discuss the TPP openly, while American news sources remain silent even as the Obama administration attempts to fast-track it through Congress.
Zachary Keck, “Congress May Have Just Killed the Trans-Pacific Partnership,” The Diplomat, November 18, 2013, http://thediplomat.com/2013/11/congress-may-have-killed-the-trans-pacific-partnership/.
John Robles, “The TPP Is a Corporate Coup D’état – Kristinn Hrafnsson,” Voice of Russia, November 15, 2013, http://voiceofrussia.com/2013_11_15/The-TPP-is-a-corporate-coup-d-tat-Kristinn-Hrafnsson-5798/.
John Robles, “Trans Pacific Partnership is Like SOPA on Steroids – Kristinn Hrafnsson,” Voice of Russia, November 23, 2013, http://voiceofrussia.com/2013_11_23/Trans-Pacific-Partnership-is-like-SOPA-on-steroids-Kristinn-Hrafnsson-1552/.
“Secret Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP),” WikiLeaks, November 13, 2013, https://wikileaks.org/tpp/.
Shannon Tiezzi, “The TPP’s Not Dead Yet (But It’s Close),” The Diplomat, December 7, 2013, http://thediplomat.com/2013/12/the-tpps-not-dead-yet-but-its-close/.
Student Researcher: Dylan Scherpf (Frostburg State University)
Faculty Evaluator: Andy Duncan (Frostburg State University)