I’m not sure how to open this article, due to its complexity and the public’s lack of understanding on the issue. There are quite a few who have never even heard of the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership). So I suppose the way to open, is with a question.
What do you know about the TPP?
Ask yourself this, and try to answer it as honestly as you can, then ask how much you really know about it.
Do you know what countries are involved?
How much of our global economy will be influenced by this trade deal?
Did you even know it was a trade deal?
What is the major point of the TPP?
Is it even something to worry about?
During the past few weeks, I’ve made the attempt to study the TPP, so I can answer these questions, and more, for myself. I wanted to have the article on this out much sooner, but my usual tasks (blogging, fiction, etc.) as well as daily life, has delayed me on this matter. I didn’t want to post until I was confident in what I was talking about, and that meant I couldn’t rush into it.
First off, I want to make something clear. This is my perception of the TPP. I am not a lawyer. There are some parts of this agreement that I have skimmed over, and smaller portions (mainly regarding the new regulations for certain countries) that I haven’t even had the chance to read through fully yet. If you are a lawyer, and you know something about it that I don’t, and can show me substantial evidence to back it up, I will be open to listen to you, whether you agree with my final position or not.
That said, I do have a decent understanding of the document, and feel confident enough to talk about these matters – especially when you consider the importance of such a treaty.
The full document is around three-four thousand pages long, and can be quite repetitive. I implore you to download it and read it for yourself, so you can make your own judgment on it. I think it’s important to add that this was put together over several years by corporate lawyers from some of the biggest companies on the planet. It was then presented and looked over by our leaders for a year before being released to the public in early November of 2015.
Congressmen and MPs were not allowed to see this document, and there is speculation that the only lawyers involved were those of the corporations, leaving leaders to trust the word of the ones proposing the treaty on many subjects involved. Considering the way things are worded in this document, I can see portions being overlooked very easily, and misunderstood by leaders who had to read through it on their own. To sum up my experience reading this, it’s like grinding a scolding hot cheese-grade on your forehead, and even someone like the President, would have a tough time fine-picking the entire thing by himself. Yet, during the creation of this treaty, that’s exactly what happened with the all 12 leaders.
Conspiracy theories have been formed because of this, and some of them have unfortunately proven true when you look into the document – though many are exaggerated.
You can find the official link to the document here.
After reading my take on the treaty, you can make your own judgment:
Here are the 12 countries involved in the TPP:
- United States
- New Zealand
- Brunei Darussalam
With all these countries combined, this treaty will influence over 40 percent of the global economy. Its European sister, the TPIP, promises to affect more than that with similar policies.
What’s the main purpose of the TPP?
On the surface, the TPP is a treaty written up to eliminate tariffs, or trade tax, and make trade much easier and freer in the system. Hypothetically speaking, if this was done properly, it may actually be a good thing for people within the countries involved.
But looking into the specifics of the TPP, it is far from being good for the people. It is good for the corporations, and may be good for a few politicians that swing votes to their biases, but it certainly will not be good for the small businesses, or the general consumer.
The first place that I looked was within the second chapter of the document, and it was there that I saw the first of many points that raised flags in my brain.
The second chapter is titled: National Treatment and Market Access for Goods.
Article 2.4: Elimination of Customs Duties
- Except as otherwise provided in this Agreement, no Party may increase any existing customs duty, or adopt any new customs duty, on an originating good.
Why do I consider this to be bad?
Well, when it comes to certain commodities, like food and lumber, it means that a party cannot increase regulations for inspections, or do anything that may hinder the progress of importation into a certain country. This means that a higher mass of commodities could be imported at a time, without any change to the regulations. This creates a higher risk of contaminates from foreign countries to cross over the borders, along with lower quality products, but that’s just two parts of the issue.
I will explain the next with this example:
Let’s say, hypothetically speaking, it took an American farmer $2 less per pound to raise a cow, than it does for a farmer in Canada. This situation is completely plausible, when you consider all of the factors that a farmer has to rely on (oil price, feed price, medicine, etc) and how those necessities become less or more expensive depending on the country you live in. This can be due to production costs, higher efficacy and efficiency in differing sectors, base resources, national debt, and so on.
With import tariffs, the company that the American farmer sells his product to wouldn’t make a large profit when it imports the product to Canada. And with the regulations and hassle involved to cross the border with a large shipment, it’s easier for the company to distribute it the U.S, or into a country that is willing to import it without a lower tariff (which is normally lower because of a shortage of the product in that country, or difference in regulations, or a plethora of other reasons). This adds to the American economy, and adds to the economies that need that product.
If the tariffs are removed, and importation is sped up, the corporation in charge of distributing the farmer’s product, can import larger amounts into the country, and then sell it for a cheaper price than what local farmers can compete with. This is due to the lower production cost at the lowest end, and the ripple it has on the way up.
This would lead to a drop in Canadian farmers, as well as the price of beef itself, making Canada’s economy drop and unemployment rise.
That is just one example, and it is only beef. The same could be said for many other resources produced and exported from Canada, but more importantly, consumed and processed by its people. Or any other country, for that matter.
Basically, if it can be produced cheaper in another country, it can be sold to a country that consumes it or produces it (often both), which would ripple down to the small businesses, and the people that work for them. This will lead to further unemployment, along with a whole other mess of economic issues for that particular country that depends on that job source.
Moving on to the next point I find disturbing inside the second chapter:
It can be summed up in two points underneath article 2.4:
- Except as otherwise provided in this Agreement, each Party shall progressively eliminate its customs duties on originating goods in accordance with its Schedule to Annex 2-D (Tariff Elimination).
- On the request of any Party, the requesting Party and one or more other Parties shall consult to consider accelerating the elimination of customs duties set out in the Schedules to Annex 2-D (Tariff Elimination).
The exceptions provided in the agreement in regard to not removing or decreasing tariffs is quite slim, and almost non-existent. But a ton of commodities are having tariffs removed, and the parties involved are only allowed to increase how fast they remove the tariffs. They are not allowed to make an amendment to slow it down.
Inside of Articles 15-2, 15-3, and 15-4, of the Government Procurement Chapter, you will find a certain pattern and summary within the points. Some of it seems to be for protection, but quite a bit of it is to protect the businesses. It keeps Governments from making any additional regulations that may infringe on the profits of importers (which can be seen in other chapters of this agreement, as well), and any decision is ultimately decided by the objective party that has been appointed by those in charge of drafting the TPP.
I will provide you with some more links on others who have been speaking about the subject recently. I wish I could provide more information at this time, but honestly, there is still so much within this agreement that is difficult to explain easily in a blog post. It’s also quite repetitive, and hard to highlight specific points where something can be found, which is why I had to read through quite a few of the chapters to get the summaries that I did.
I will provide some speculation concerning the distinct difference in how commodities are treated in terms of their tariffs, for different countries. For instance, lumber exports from Canada are to be brought down to a 0% tariff within five years, while other countries will not have eliminated their tariffs for wood, but instead eliminated it for something like rice or rattan.
My speculation is this:
The TPP has been drafted in order to customize the trade system to create maximum profits for the biggest industries involved, as well as creating a system where large businesses can freely control the marketplace as they choose. This gives them control of the resources, and thus, keeps them in control of most of our laws through the act of economic leverage. Based on the attitudes of most large corporations, I don’t think these profits will be trickling down to the lower class, but in fact, will only be used to increase the wealth gap the entire globe seems to have an issue with (with the exception of a few countries, like Norway and Finland).
I could be very well wrong. Like I said, I’m not a lawyer. But I’ve read through a good portion of this agreement, and will continue to study it so I can try to understand it better.
My bottom line understanding is this: the TPP is a bad thing. If we incorporate this as being the free trade agreement for most of the globe, then most of the globe will see poverty and unemployment rise, leading to many issues in our stability as a society.
With things all the terrible things we already have going on. The TPP is the last thing we need.
Stay informed, and if you agree with what I’m saying, then contact your MP, or your congressman, and have them oppose the TPP within the halls of government. At this point, with less than few months or so before the TPP is voted on officially, it’s the only option the people have to stop it. Or at the very least, slow it down so it can be further looked into.
I will provide some more resources below that add more perceptions on the conversation of the TPP
If you enjoyed this article, and agree with what I’m saying, be sure to like, share, and subscribe.
And as always, thanks for reading,
Historic Trade Deal Confirms Critics’ Worst Fears – Huffington Post
Your Worst Fears About The TPP Are True – Secular Talk
Just How Bad is the TPP? (with Congressman Alan Grayson) – Thom Hartmann
“A Very Big Mistake”: Joseph Stiglitz Slams Obama for Pushing the TPP – Democracy Now
Sargon of Akkad has put out the entirety of the TPP text into audio form. I found these resources quite useful while reading through the agreement, and I recommend them as a resource. While you’re there, subscribe to his channel. He speaks brilliantly on many social and political issues, and I find him quite entertaining and informative to watch.
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