Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement – Freer Trade Or Stalking-Horse

I haven’t paid much attention to the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement, the mega-trade deal currently being negotiated among the US and a number of Asia Pacific countries. I’m generally a free trade advocate so I assumed that this amounted to a liberalization of trade terms among the group. Perhaps I was naive.

This article from Reason.com indicates that there may be more afoot than just lowering tariffs. It seems that there’s a fair amount of secrecy surrounding the terms under discussion, at least so far as the general public and Congress is concerned. Business with an interest in the outcomes have apparently been granted a good deal more access to the terms and discussions. Layer on that the prospect of transferring authority from US courst to international tribunals, a favorite cause of Progressives, and you begin to see reasons for concern. Oh, I almost forgot to mention this.

Leaked papers paint a different picture. The USTR acknowledges the existence of 29 chapters under negotiation. Only five of these chapters deal directly with trade. The other 24 aim to influence many issues, such as food and environmental standards, intellectual property, and pharmaceutical formularies.

Hopefully, we’ve learned something lately about exceedingly dense, complex documents which never seem to be read by those responsible for their enactment.

I’ll keep an open mind on this for now. As I said I’m all for free trade. Nevertheless, this probably deserves more attention and perhaps wariness than it’s been afforded so far.

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