TPP Deal Announced Tonight

Historic - and I didn't think it would happen. I was at the Brunei ministerial meeting in August, 2013 and it seemed impossible. That was negotiation round number 19.

How would these 12 completely different countries ever be able to agree on anything? This last ministerial in Atlanta was to be a 2 day event, then that got extended to 5 days of hard negotiations. I wonder why NHK* is not saying a word about the demands - and promises - to protect Japan's agriculture, or the concerns about rising costs of medicines. Stay tuned.

And there was not a single ministerial round of negotiations here in Japan. That's quite a scandal considering Japan's role in the world economy. Also, it has made it more difficult to get people interested in the many related issues, not just for farmers but for everyone.

Update: Now even the announced press conference which was supposed to be held at 22:00 PM Japanese time is delayed... => https://ustr.gov/TPP/Atlanta-Livestream

Update 2: There will be an anti-TPP demonstration outside the Prime Minister's Residence in Tokyo on Tuesday, October 6 at 18:00-19:30  Info in Japanese here

Update 3: Note that this is not about "free" trade but how to "manage" trade:

https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/trans-pacific-partnership-charade-by-joseph-e--stiglitz-and-adam-s--hersh-2015-10

OCT 2, 2015
The Trans-Pacific Free-Trade Charade
By Joseph E. Stiglitz and Adam S. Hersh

NEW YORK – As negotiators and ministers from the United States and 11 other Pacific Rim countries meet in Atlanta in an effort to finalize the details of the sweeping new Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), some sober analysis is warranted. The biggest regional trade and investment agreement in history is not what it seems.

You will hear much about the importance of the TPP for “free trade.” The reality is that this is an agreement to manage its members’ trade and investment relations – and to do so on behalf of each country’s most powerful business lobbies. Make no mistake: It is evident from the main outstanding issues, over which negotiators are still haggling, that the TPP is not about “free” trade.

New Zealand has threatened to walk away from the agreement over the way Canada and the US manage trade in dairy products. Australia is not happy with how the US and Mexico manage trade in sugar. And the US is not happy with how Japan manages trade in rice. These industries are backed by significant voting blocs in their respective countries. And they represent just the tip of the iceberg in terms of how the TPP would advance an agenda that actually runs counter to free trade.




Update 4: More comments coming in by email from tpp-allies late tonight

Canada's government says:

If implemented, the agreement could mean:

— Elimination or reduction of tariffs on a broad series of products including pork, fruits, wines and spirits, canola, barley, machinery, minerals and forestry products. As one example, the beef industry expects to see exports triple to Japan, with a multi-year phase-out in tariffs there from 39 per cent to nine per cent.

— More foreign car parts likely entering Canada, likely benefiting producers and consumers but hurting some auto workers. Cars will be allowed without tariffs as long as they have 45-per-cent content from the TPP region. That's significantly down from the 62.5 per cent regional-content provision under NAFTA, which mostly kept out pieces from places like China and Thailand. But the formula is more complex than that: the government says it will "encourage" producers to use Canadian ingredients, parts and materials when making goods exported to other TPP countries. (...)


US Congress says (Politico.com):

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch is signaling trouble for the newly concluded Trans-Pacific Partnership right out of the gate.

"While the details are still emerging, unfortunately I am afraid this deal appears to fall woefully short," Hatch said in a statement, likely in reference to the United States' inability to secure 12 years of patent protection for biological drugs, as he had demanded.

"Over the next several days and months, I will carefully examine the agreement to determine whether our trade negotiators have diligently followed the law so that this trade agreement meets Congress' criteria and increases opportunity for American businesses and workers," Hatch said. "The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a once in a lifetime opportunity and the United States should not settle for a mediocre deal."

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, who along with Hatch and Sen. Ron Wyden drafted the trade promotion authority bill, is reserving judgment for now.

"[O]nly a good agreement ... will be able to pass the House," Ryan said in a statement. "I am reserving judgment until I am able to review the final text and consult with my colleagues and my constituents. In particular, I want to explore concerns surrounding the most recent aspects of the agreement."

Sen. Bernie Sanders, who has fought against fast track and TPP, vowed to "do all that I can" to defeat the agreement in the Senate.

"Wall Street and other big corporations have won again," the presidential candidate said. "It is time for the rest of us to stop letting multi-national corporations rig the system to pad their profits at our expense."




Update 5: Foreman says, "TPP means 18,000 tax cuts..."

Update 6: Sierra Club, perhaps the most respected US environmental organization, says:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Monday, Oct. 5, 2015

Sierra Club: Congress Should Reject Polluter-Friendly Trans-Pacific Partnership
After much controversy, U.S. and Pacific nations strike a flawed trade deal

ATLANTA -- Today, the New York Times reported that the United States and 11 other Pacific Rim nations reached a trade deal for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The Sierra Club has been working tirelessly to expose the threats of this deal on communities, the environment, and our climate.

In response, Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune released the following statement:

"Despite widespread, international opposition, the United States government is moving toward signing a trade deal that threatens our families, our communities, and our environment.

“Amazingly, the public is still not able to see the contents of a completed pact that has been negotiated entirely behind closed doors. But we know enough about the pact to understand that, if passed, it would undermine decades of environmental progress and threaten our climate. The Trans-Pacific Partnership would empower big polluters to challenge climate and environmental safeguards in private trade courts and would expand trade in dangerous fossil fuels that would increase fracking and imperil our climate. The TPP’s environment chapter might look nice on the surface but will be hollow on the inside, and history gives us no reason to believe that TPP rules on conservation challenges such as the illegal timber or wildlife trade will ever be enforced.

"Congress must stand up for American jobs, clean air and water, and a healthy climate and environment by rejecting the Trans-Pacific Partnership."


Image of Japanese farmers protesting in Tokyo on September 30, 2015 from Agri News

Key quote from Japanese JA, in a unique collaboration with other farm groups:

The demonstration was hosted by four farmers’ organizations including Japan Family Farmers Movement. After the rally, they met with a farm ministry official and urged the government not to expand rice imports, as reported to be mulled in the TPP negotiations, considering that rice farmers are already suffering from declining rice prices. They also submitted a letter of request to farm minister Yoshimasa Hayashi.


Update 7 (thanks Tom): The Guardian has more details than any other media source so far. Well done. Image - isn't it pathetic that there is only one female trade minister at the table, from Peru.

I would argue that trade negotiations are too caught up in male testosterone to really benefit the entire population as such...?

The TPP would give Japan’s automakers, led by Toyota Motor Corp, a freer hand to buy parts from Asia for vehicles sold in the United States but sets long phase-out periods for US tariffs on Japanese cars and light trucks.


Update 8: The New York Times thinks the TPP is going to do the "environment" a lot of good because it will "strengthen international environmental enforcement agreements" but the only example is CITES, the effort to protect illegal trade in items like elephant tusks. However, the NYT forgets that there are a lot more international conventions that the TPP does not mention (because the US is not a signatory to them). Typical trash article from the NYT, if you ask me, with a lot of information about stuff that has nothing to do with the TPP deal just reached in Atlanta.

The agreement complements the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, also known as Cites. The Cites agreement provides a list of animals and plants for which international trade is banned or restricted, and it is the world’s primary treaty to protect wildlife, with roughly 175 countries as members. Under provisions in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, countries would be required to enforce laws and regulations to protect wildlife covered under the Cites agreement from illegal smuggling, or risk economic sanctions.

Which country in this region does not have laws already that incorporate CITES? China, I suppose, but they are not part of TPP. Rather than CITES, the UN Convention on Biological Diversity has set the highest standards for protecting wildlife, but the New York Times perhaps hasn't heard of it... CBD is a global agreement addressing all aspects of biological diversity: genetic resources, species, and ecosystems. (But the US is not a signatory...)

Stay tuned.


* Weird, but the NHK journalist at the press conference in Atlanta was the only one to start his question by offering his "congratulations" to the ministers for concluding the deal. NHK has become the Abe Channel, indeed. Top image of a clearly disappointed and humbled trade minister Amari from - NHK World


Comments

Tom Inokashira said…
'Hold your horses there, boy!!' as used to be in a certain related country. Main article in the JT says that, ironically, TPP could be tripped by Congress. Those yonder Republican voics of reason (did I just write that??!!?) an unhappy with some of the adjusts etc Obama has made. And since a load of folks are now clamouring, from Clinton to that other voice of reason (ahem) Trump the 'What's good for America!' flag will now be raised in various versions. Game aint over til it's...
Tom Inokashira said…
Jeesh, gomen for the typos. Before running walking helps!
Martin J Frid said…
Tom, thanks for the comment.

We don't know what the US Kongress (K) will try to bring to this. During October, 2015 we have to wait before the entire text is made published. Game indeed.

Meanwhile, massive protests in Berlin about the similar agreement.

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