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The Trans-Pacific Partnership is not about trade – Editor

A recent article by Pat Ranald [1] has criticised the latest version of the Trans- Pacific Partnership (TPP-11), which has been endorsed by both of the major political parties within the Australian parliament. The major elements of her criticism are as follows:

  1. It is hard to know exactly what the TPP will do for us, because the federal government hasn’t commissioned any independent modelling, either of the TPP-11 proposal before the Senate or the original TPP-12.
  2. In TTP-11, regulation is regarded as something to be frozen and reduced over time, and never increased. But our experience of the global financial crisis, the banking royal commission, escalating climate change and the exploitation of vulnerable temporary workers tells us that from time to time governments need to be able to re-regulate in the public interest.
  3. The TPP-11 contains the so-called Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions that allow private corporations to bypass national courts and seek compensation from extraterritorial tribunals if they believe a change in the law or policy has harmed their investments.
  4. The text of trade agreements suchas TPP-11 remains secret until the moment they are signed. After that it’s then tabled in parliament and reviewed by a parliamentary committee. But the parliament can’t change the text. It can only approve or reject the legislation before it.
  5. In the midst of internal opposition to TPP-11, the Labor Party opposition has decided to endorse it and then try to negotiate changes if it wins government. But renegotiation won’t be easy. Labor would have to try to negotiate side letters with each of the other TPP governments.

A recent article by Stephen Fitgerald [2] emphasises that TTP-11 is not about free trade. But rather, it is about power and control: “Powerful corporations have been allowed to swallow the state; they have, as the economist James Galbraith explains, created a ‘predator state’, which they naturally exploit for their own expansion. There is no frame of reference with which we can more convincingly define the TPP.”

  1. Ranald, P., “The Senate is set to approve it, but what exactly is the Trans Pacific Partnership?” , The Conversation, 16/10/18

  2. Fitzgerald, S., “The predators behind the Trans-Pacific Partnership”, The AIM network, 18/10/18

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