The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) treaty is a 12-nation trade pact that is designed by the US and that aims to eventually include all of the Asia-Pacific countries. At present, the TPP member countries are:
• U.S. • Australia
• Brunei • Canada
• Chile • Japan
• Malaysia • Mexico
• New Zealand • Peru
• Singapore • Vietnam
For the US, the Trans-Pacific Partnership is clearly a priority and it is being widely promoted. This is because US see it as an important vehicle to pursue economic integration in the Asia-Pacific region. But when a leaked copy of intellectual property chapter of TPP was released by anti-secrecy group, WikiLeaks, it began to face a lot of opposition even in US despite of its high economic advantages for the country.
A Brief Economic Analysis for US (If TPP is Enforced)
TPP Provisions Benefitting US Pharmaceutical Sector
The leaked chapter, “Exhibit A” contained the following benefits:
- It makes it easier for US pharmaceutical corporates to win bio-pharma patents (even in developing countries) and have longer patent terms.
- It extends the ability of US pharma companies to limit access to the scientific data that is vital for furthering R&D and develop new medicines.
- United States is also pushing provisions that would allow patenting of surgical procedures that currently is against US laws.
The provisions stated above reveals that there is not much concern about free trade. It highlights strong disagreement between the U.S. and its partners on issues including investor-state dispute settlement, intellectual property and the medicines.
All these provisions are going to supposedly raise the price of medicines and health care, which in turn will strain public health systems and totally cut off access to some essential medicines for a section of people. But these are, as yet, just speculations.
Expected Advantages of TPP Provisions for Other US Industries
TPP is going to establish rules for:
- Agricultural tariffs,
- Digital commerce intellectual property
- Environmental standards
- Protection for companies that compete against government-backed businesses.
The leaked draft of the US’s TPP copyright proposal reveals that parts of the TPP nearly mirror the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). So, it’s important that TPP member countries retain the flexibility to update their laws that govern the fast-moving development of online platforms and not burden online service providers.
However, for US, TPP may provide an important framework to promote rules that can protect the free flow of data across borders via Internet. Thus, US e-commerce industry, especially SMEs, will be able to use the internet to access customers overseas with much ease.
Holistic Impact & Future of US Public
Upon assessing the benefits of TPP to the U.S. in both economic and broader strategic terms, we see that US corporate interests are driving the agenda of the TPP.
Though initially US will have relatively small immediate economic benefits from liberalizing trade with the current TPP members but in the long term, it will greatly benefit. That’s because US will design the rules for trade and investment in the most dynamic and fastest growing region of the world over the coming decades.
TPP agreement was not just devised to economically integrate an area with about $28 trillion annual economic output but also to overcome well-organized public resistance in dozens of countries against US corporates. Since many advancing nations such as China has been excluded from this treaty, it also suggests that real motive behind USA pushing TPP is to challenge their rise.
Consequently, TPP has certainly gone beyond the usual trade deals. It will shape the future of how people in the member countries would create, access, and share information. But TPP has not yet won the confidence of general public who consider it worse than the WTO’s TRIPS (Trade-Related Aspects of International Property Rights) and has bogged it down. Ministers from the member countries including U.S. are facing a lot of opposition to the deal from lawmakers at home, an obstacle that will have to be overcome before the agreement is finalized. The set deadline for signing TPP has passed and talks are expected to continue in January 2014 though no new timeline has been set to reach an agreement on the TPP.
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