This website was part of a research project supported by a grant from the School of Law at the University of Auckland to identify and critically evaluate the potential implications of the Trans-Pacific PartnershipAgreement. It is no longer being maintained. For updates on the TPPA from a New Zealand civil society perspective, please head to http://www.itsourfuture.org.nz/.
1. The 12th round of negotiations in Dallas, Texas have been accompanied by a flurry of academic responses and press. Leading this has been an open letter from 100 jurists from countries currently or potentially engaged in the TPPA. They call in the letter for the TPPA to reject a NAFTA-style investor-state dispute settlement. The letter's principal signatories include Retired Court of Appeal Judge Sir Edmund Thomas, former Australian Family Court Chief Justice Elizabeth Everett, Ralph Nader, and former President of York University Professor Harry Arthurs. Legislators from three NZ opposition parties have signed, as well Maine State Legislator Sharon Treat. Other lawyers who want to show their support for this can still sign on here.
2. USTR Ron Kirk has issued a preliminary response to the letter, saying that the signatories have been misled as to the level of public openness and consultation provided on TPP throughout the talks. Techdirt's Mike Masnick has analysed Kirk's response critically, paragraph-by-paragraph and believes it does not engage with the matters the lawyers raise.
3. Bryan Gould has written about the risks to New Zealand's domestic legal process and sovereignty to legislate in an op-ed for the NZ Herald, in tandem with the letter's release. The Herald's own unsigned editorial response alleges that Gould and other experts have over-stated the risks of the TPPA, although without an identified author it is hard to determine what authority this is founded on.
5. Infojusticeis reporting on a Chilean news story in which a top trade official indicates that Chile may have to reassess what is on the table before proceeding. He also indicates that Chile would not enter into an agreement simply because it had been in the original P4 arrangement from the beginning.
7. Susan Chalmers of Internet NZ has travelled to Dallas to advocate for open IP rights around the Internet, and details some of her concerns about the TPP's potential IP requirements here.
8. A collection of trade associations, including the RIAA, the MPAA and the US Chamber of Commerce, have also written to the USTR. They have requested the strongest possible enforcement mechanisms possible as part of the TPP in their 8 May letter. Public Knowledge's policy blog analyses their letter here.
9. The Citizens' Trade Campaign has presented a petition signed by over 24,000 Americans asking the USTR to publicly release its TPPA proposals, and is following this with a rally and march on Saturday 12 May, starting in Dallas's Addison Circle Park.
10. Finally, Public Citizen has released this lighter anti-TPP gesture, an animated video and song set to the Jackson 5's classic 'ABC'. Watch 'TPP' embedded below:
1. The Mainichi Timesreport that Barack Obama has raised the US's concerns with reform of Japan's auto, beef and insurance sectors as a pre-condition of TPP entry in a summit talk with Japanese PM Yoshihiko Noda.
2. Reutersreport that Canadian Trade Minister Ed Fast has told reporters that all issues 'without exception' will be on the negotiating table, but that there is no intention to dismantle the Canadian agricultural supply management system that the US has objected to as a form of protectionism.
3. Public Citizen have already developed two maps that show US-based corporations in Japan and vice versa to demonstrate the possible businesses that could have remedies in either jurisdiction under an investor-state dispute clause if the TPP was signed.
4. On Wednesday 26 April, thousands of Japanese farmers marched to indicate their opposition to the TPP, saying it would reduce food secrurity and damage agricultural livelihoods.
5. The Wall St Journal has a blog up on a recent anti-TPP ad placed in the Washington Post by the Japan agricultural lobby, and looks at the disjuncture between the extensive press on TPP here and the lack elsewhere.
1. Knowledge Ecology International reports that US Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) has filed two legislative amendments to the President's proposed JOBS (Jumpstart Our Business Startups) Act which would "prohibit the President from accepting or providing for the entry into force of certain legally binding trade agreements without the formal and express approval of Congress". One is for the TPP, while the other is for ACTA (the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, already negotiated). Wyden's TPP amendment would require public disclosure of US negotiating positions and proposals on IP or the Internet. Techdirt also reports on Wyden's amendments, and their likelihood of their success, here. Wyden also pressed USTR Ron Kirk directly regarding both agreements during a Senate Finance Committee on the 2012 US Trade agenda, available on YouTube here.
3. The Sydney Morning Herald reports that as of the latest round the Australian government is standing firm (as a matter of government policy) on its refusal to allow investor-state dispute settlement mechanisms into the TPP.The Wall Street Journal reports that US business groups have written to President Obama and asked him to retaliate against this refusal. The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry has also expressed concern about the government's stance in a press release.
4. The co-leader of the NZ Green Party, Russel Norman, has returned from attending an international conference on the TPP in Japan, and has spoken to Radio New Zealand about the tenor of the concerns voiced there.
5. Following the Melbourne Round of TPP negotiations, Public Citizenhave updated their comparative chart of the US's intellectual property proposal for the talks and existing Australian law, and published stakeholder presentations from Public Citizen, Cancer Control Council Australia, Medecins Sans Frontieres, and IP expert Sean Flynn.
6. The American Prospect has published a full special report for its April 2012 issue, Pacific Illusions, which presents a series of critical perspectives on the claimed benefits of the TPP to the United States, economically and strategically.
7. The Detroit Newsreports that President Obama has not yet decided whether to allow Japan entry into talks, and reports that Detroit's 'Big Three' auto manufacturers still oppose Japan's entry to talks but welcome Canada and Mexico's.
8. Summarising developments as of the Melbourne Round, Les Conseil Des Canadiens reports that a final decision on Canada joining the TPP should not be expected until September 2012. Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, Canadian Trade Minister Ed Fast perceives that negotiations are 'moving forward'.
9. The Hill reports that the sole (no pun intended) athletic footwear manufacturer in the US is negotiating with lawmakers to try and preserve footwear duties under the TPP - they claim this will save five factories from closure.
11. Inside US Trade(subscriber-only) reports that amid the TPP negotiations, the US, NZ, Australia and Chile are in agreement on a US proposal on geographical indicators that would protect those names and brands perceived as 'generic' and counter a European Union move to strengthen GI's across the board.
NZ commentators have produced useful analyses of the situation - free-trade advocate and business columnist Fran O'Sullivan has written for the NZ Herald on the outcome (12) while the paper's main political reporter, John Armstrong, anticipates that foreign investment may prove to be PM John Key's most intractable problem this term. Opponents of unfettered free-trade, including economist Bernard Hickey and journalist Tim Watkin have provided further commentary. Gordon Campbell of Scoop provides a detailed and valuable comparison of the Crafar Farms ruling and the NZ-China FTA.
2. The New Zealand ambassador to the US, Mike Moore, is facing calls to be sacked from his position after hosting a World Trade Reception sponsored by tobacco company Phillip Morris and other large US corporations given the large number of tobacco-related deaths in NZ's Maori community.
3. ftamalaysia.org reports that Malaysian Trades Union Congress head Khalid Atan has expressed his opinion that the country 800,000 strong trade union movements should mobilise against the TPP and other other FTAs the Malaysian government is negotiating.
4. The Charlotte Observerreports on moves by US tobacco farmers and companies to ensure that their industry is protected in a TPP agreement, against the protestations of public health associations.
1. World Trade Onlinereports that US Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) has written to the Obama administration asking that the TPP include provisions against "misaligned currencies", warning that potential TPP partners such as Japan "have demonstrated a pattern of currency interventions".
2. Comments have been received for the USTR's 2012 Special 301 Report (an annual report identifying those countries with significant barriers to US companies and products due to their IP laws). Every country presently a negotiating party to the TPP (apart from Singapore) is singled out by either the International Intellectual Property Alliance or Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. Their submissions can be found here.
3. NHK has run an English-language feature story on opposition to Malaysia's entry into the TPP, streaming here.
4. Public Knowledgehas published a blog post summarising what could potentially be the more perverse consequences arising from IP rules in the TPP.
5. Speaking to Radio New Zealand, NZ Trade Minister Tim Groser has warned that if the TPP talks became used as a vehicle to exclude and marginalise China, NZ would consider leaving negotiations. Professor Jane Kelsey has also written about this for Foreign Control Watchdog.
6. Writing in Canada's Globe And Mail,John Ibbitson warns that the requirements for Canada to join the TPP would likely be high and amount to a whole new FTA between Canada and the US.
8. Thai paper The Nationreports that Thailand is seriously evaluating whether or not to eventually join the TPP, and will be conducting a feasibility study on the matter.
9. Malaysia has officially welcomed and said it will back Japan's bid to join the TPP, according to Japanese paper The Mainichi Daily News.
10. Finally, Vietnam's deputy Prime Minister has met with US Trade Representative Ron Kirk and asked that the US undertake to remove its outstanding barriers on key Vietnamese exports, while also asking that the US ensure Vietnam's interests during TPP negotiations.
1. Techdirtreports that at the same time public interest groups were denied a reservation at the same hotel where the 10th round of TPP negotiations were being held this week in California, film industry lobbyists took negotiators on an extensive tour of 20th Century Fox's studios.
3. The LA Progressivefeatures an op-ed by Timothy Robertson and Matt Kavanagh (of the California Fair Trade Coalition and HEALTH GAP, respectively), highlighting their concerns with the secrecy of current negotiations.
4. Professor Jane Kelsey believes that NZ could have faced a lawsuit under its existing FTA with China if had blocked a major farm purchase by a Chinese company last month, and that this is a taste of processes under a TPP with investor-state remedies.
5. Reutersreport that Washington is still considering Japan's bid to join the TPP negotiations, but that USTR Ron Kirk has welcomed changes to their market access regime for goods and services over the past twelve months.
6. Knowledge Economy International has written an open letter to Senator Patrick Leahy, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, asking for greater transparency in TPP negotiations.
8. Writing for Forbes, E.D Kain warns that although SOPA was stopped after extensive online protests and ACTA has had some of its most severe provisions removed in its final draft, the IP negotiations for TPP remain shrouded in secrecy.
9. The Emergency Committee for American Trade, a pro-trade and investment group, has supplied comments to USTR in response to Canada, Japan, and Mexico's expressions of interest in TPP. They are available here.
1. The conservative Australian Lowy Institute has published an op-ed piece questioning the Australian government's willingness to enter into a trade pact that would set out to exclude China.
2. NZCIS chief executive Paul Matthews has written for the NZ National Business Reviewwarning that signing up to the TPP may put NZ's current domestic law excluding software from patent protection. Matthews concludes that the government is more concerned about agriculture concessions in the ongoing talks, rather than the technology sector.
3. A coalition of US agriculture and food lobby groups, spearheaded by the National Pork Producers Council, have written to the USTR requesting Japan's immediate inclusion in TPP talks, stating that this will generate enormous interest and support in US agriculture.
4. Public Citizen has now completed a comparative chart of pharmaceutical patent and data provisions in the TRIPS agreement, in existing FTAs between the US and four TPP parties, and in the leaked US IPR proposal. Both long-form and condensed versions are available here.
7. Public Citizen's Peter Maybarduk writes for Advocate.com on the TPPA's ramifications for the provision of generic HIV/AIDS drugs in the developing world, concluding that the current proposed trade rules would offer more political and economic power for the patent-based pharmaceutical industry than ever.
9. Following the Ways and Means hearing, subcommittee member Kevin Brady (R-TX) has warned that Congress may oppose a TPP deal that extends labour provisions for workers' rights beyond those outlined in the US agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama.
10. Writing in an op-ed for The Hillblog, Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers of America CEO John Castellani urges the TPP reflect existing US law on biologics, as well as the stronger provisions for pharmaceutical patents and data seen under KORUS.
11. The USTR has released a Green Paper on Conservation and the TPP, suggesting that the TPP will allow member countries to pursue a "coordinated response to harmful illegal wildlife and wild plant trade".