The controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is on the ropes—and not just because our president-elect tends toward nationalism instead of globalism. The fact is, the TPP presents itself as a partnership that would benefit Asia and its economic partners—but it’s the hidden bits of those 5,000+ pages that are the crux of the deal. And those are, well, deal-breakers. Especially since the entire thing was hashed out in secret meetings with no oversight.
First up on the chopping block, according to the TPP: net neutrality. Like the failed Stop Online Piracy Act, a section of the TPP would require internet service providers to scour the internet and report anyone posting copyrighted material the copyright holder doesn’t want posted—even without a court order. The ISP, of course, would get legal immunity, while the poster deals with the consequences.
And lest you think your online privacy is still assured: Another provision would require countries to publish databases with the real names and addresses associated with various web domains. Never mind privacy—this could be catastrophic in countries where dissidents are routinely repressed by their governments. And it’s a siren call for scammers, online harassers, and trolls. (Gamergate 2.0, anyone?)
Then there’s the TPP’s approach to copyright. Signers of the TPP would be required to enforce copyright laws 70 years after the death of the creator. This would apply to all 12 countries involved with the TPP, spreading the United States’ broken and complicated copyright laws across the world and making it even harder for artists, musicians, writers, and other creatives to remix and recombine public domain materials.
And over it all looms the Investor State Dispute Settlement section. This would allow corporations to sue governments in closed-door tribunals overseen by three corporate lawyers if the corporations are unhappy with any laws that are passed.
This is before we even get to the actual regulations involving tariffs, imports, or exports—you know, the fundamental parts of a trade deal.
The sections on trade regulation, it should be noted, naturally focus on promoting the economic interests of the United States no matter what the cost. That means boosting corporate profits at the expense of increased pollution, whether it’s expediting the export of natural gas, increasing emissions by moving manufacturing overseas, or limiting government efforts to combat climate disruption if it negatively affects corporate gain.
Needless to say, potential partner countries aren’t particularly excited about the TPP. China, an up-and-coming economic powerhouse, is far more interested in liberalizing manufacturing and light industry through agreements like the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which is much more laser-targeted on trade between Asian countries. That’s not likely to happen with the TPP, a document referred to by Robert Blackwill, Henry Kissinger, and Ashley Tellis as a method for the US to be held “accountable for the implementation of [the government’s] response to the rise of Chinese power.”
Frankly, it’s just as well that President-elect Trump has announced his intention to pull away from the TPP. Whatever his personal reasons for the move, it’s likely to prevent some seriously dangerous legislation from hindering both the United States and Asian countries like China.