Last week in Auckland, representatives from 12 Pacific Rim countries signed the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the world’s largest trade deal. The 12 nations include the United States and Japan, the world’s largest and third-largest economies, which together account for approximatey 40 percent of the global economy according to The Economist.
Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Brunei and Chile round out the remaining 12, with the notable exception of China. However, each country has to ratify the agreement amongst its own ranks. The TPP is opposed by anti-globalization campaigners and powerful lobbies. The TPP is meeting resistance in many of these countries, particularly the U.S. The U.S. administration thinks it’s a good deal for Americans because the TPP will eliminate more than 18,000 taxes and other trade tariffs on American products across the other 11 member nations.
Andrew Robb, New Zealand’s minister for trade and investment said Australia’s exports of goods and services to the 11 other countries were worth $109 billion last year – a third of Australia’s total exports. In 2014, Australian investment in TPP countries was 45 percent of all outward investment. With the TPP, tariffs would be eliminated on US$9 billion of Australia’s dutiable exports to TPP countries, including $4.3 billion worth of agricultural goods including beef, dairy, sugar, rice, grains and wine.
However opposition to the TPP say only six chapters of the 30-chapter agreement address trade, and that it will make it easier for big U.S. corporations to ship jobs overseas, pushing down wages. Additionally, opponents fear unsafe imported food, price increases for medicine by giving big pharmaceutical companies new monopoly rights to keep lower cost generic drugs off the market, environmental hazards, the banning of buy American policies which are needed to create green jobs and the undermining of human rights as problems with the TPP.
One of the biggest criticisms of the TPP is that over five years of negotiation, much of the text remains a mystery. This is due to the fact that the majority of the negotiations were conducted behind closed doors. The Wall Street Journal reported that TPP parties signed a confidentiality agreement regarding the negotiations, but due to the scale and scope of this agreement, some lawmakers have been vocal about the U.S. administration’s refusal to make draft text available.
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