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 Partnership
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/.

News 11/05: Jurists write open letter objecting to lack of TPP transparency and opposing investor-state clauses. Chile make equivocal noises about signing final agreement. Anti-TPP animated video hits the Net.

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.

4. Minnesota Senator Al Franken has written to Ron Kirk urging transparency on the TPPA, asking that stakeholders be given full and equal opportunity for input into the positions negotiators take.

5. Infojustice is 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.

6. Peter K. Yu of Drake University Law School has written a short briefing on ACTA, SOPA, and TPP entitled 'The Alphabet Soup of Transborder Intellectual Property Enforcement'. He submits that due to limited transparency, press scrutiny, and the lack of a strong counterpower like the EU (as in ACTA) it presents a stronger public risk.

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:


Last Updated on Friday, 11 May 2012 04:14
News 02/05: US expects more from Japan in TPP. Canada put everything on the table apart from what the US wants on the table.

1. The Mainichi Times report 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. Reuters report 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.

News 21/03: US Senator files legislative amendment to JOBS Act. Australia remain firm against dispute settlement clauses. No progress on a place for Japan at the table?

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.

2. Knowledge Ecology International also has a round-up of the IP discussions from the Melbourne round of TPP negotiations.

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 Citizen have 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 News reports 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.

10. The International Trade Union Confederation has published a release highlighting their concern after the Melbourne Round that talks are heading in a 'dangerous' direction.

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.

Last Updated on Friday, 11 May 2012 02:35
News 27/02: NZ Court hands out landmark judgment on foreign investment. NZ Ambassador to US censured after hosting tobacco TPP event. Malaysia considers union response .

1. The biggest development of the month in NZ trade news has been the decision of a High Court judge ruling that the government's Overseas Investment Office (OIO) reconsider the economic benefits of its decision to allow Chinese company Shanghai Pengxin to buy 16 large New Zealand dairy farms. A number of consequential cases have arisen, including a challenge by two NZ Maori tribes against the involvement of two New Zealand government agencies in in Shanghai Penxin's bid, and a challenge to the High Court's ruling by the same rival consortium who sought his declaration in the first place, believing that he erred in saying that Shanghai Penxin had the necessary acumen and expertise to operate the farms. Although the opposition Labour Party took a pro-free trade and foreign investment stance, and negotiated an FTA with China, they have come out in support of the High Court's ruling and oppose the sale to Shanghai Penxin.

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 (1 2) 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 Observer reports 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.

5. USTR Deputy Representative Demetrios Marantis has visited Hanoi for three days to discuss anticipated revisions of Vietnam's labour and human rights policies in light of the TPP. The USTR has also held meetings in the past fortnight to discuss Mexico's interest in participating in the TPP and a two-day consultation with Japan regarding their interest in participating the TPP.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 28 February 2012 11:50
News 14/02: US Senator seeks TPP provisions against currency intervention. TPP partners singled out in Special 301 comments. NZ Trade Minister wary of TPP as "anti-China" strategy.

1. World Trade Online reports 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 Knowledge has 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.

7. Citizens' Trade Campaign has uploaded photos of civil action during the negotiators' meeting in San Diego on 2 February. Videos from the rallies can also be found on this blog.

8. Thai paper The Nation reports 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.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 14 February 2012 02:20
News 01/02: TPP negotiators meet with film industry reps. Registration info for Round 11 of talks available. US believes Japan is improving market access.

1. Techdirt reports 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.

2. The 11th round of TPP negotiations will be held in Melbourne from 1-9 March. Stakeholder registration is now open on DFAT's official TPP site. Interested participants can apply by 17 February.

3. The LA Progressive features 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. Reuters report 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.

7. Canadian Trade Minister Ed Fast has told Globe and Mail reporters that he believes there is broad Washington support for Canada entering the TPP.

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.

Last Updated on Thursday, 02 February 2012 02:49
News 28/12: Think-tank warns against a TPP excluding China. Fears TPP undermining NZ patent law. US food groups want Japan in talks

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 Review warning 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.

5. New Zealand's lead TPP negotiator, Mark Sinclair, has been announced as NZ's new Ambassador to Japan. He will be replaced in future rounds of talks by Dr. David Walker. Dr. Walker has an extensive trade background, including negotiating TPP's precusor, the P4 Agreement, and the NZ-China Free Trade Agreement.

6. The Australia and New Zealand Journal of Public Health journal for December features an editorial questioning some of the costs to public health policy involved in the TPPA and other free-trade agreements.

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.

8. The December 14 hearing on TPP undertaken by the US House Ways and Means Subcommittee has put testimony from its witnesses online, including Demetrios Marantis (Deputy USTR) and business leaders who support the TPP. Public Citizen has reported on the hearing and provided its own submission for the record, as has Oxfam America and HealthGAP (Global Access Project).

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 Hill blog, 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".

Last Updated on Wednesday, 28 December 2011 02:17
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