The Transpacific Partnership (TPP) A Template for World Corporate Rule.

corporate rule

Julian Assange of WikiLeaks said. “If instituted, the TPP’s IP regime would trample over individual rights and free expression, as well as ride roughshod over the intellectual and creative commons.” And “If you read, write, publish, think, listen, dance, sing or invent; if you farm or consume food; if you’re ill now or might one day be ill, the TPP has you in its crosshairs.”

Part 1 Control of World Intellectual Property (IP)

Des Pensable (copyright) 2014.

Imagine what might happen if a group of the most powerful multinational corporations on the planet came up with a wish list of changes to government laws and rules that would allow for “free trade” between countries with little or no regulations. They might state that it would create jobs and everyone would benefit.

In a perfect world this might be true. However, there is no such thing as a perfect world run by people whose motto is “greed is good”. It is much more likely that they would come up with a list of changes in the laws of the countries that would maximize their profits and minimize their costs without consideration of the costs to workers and society in general.

They would state that to maximize profits they need lower company taxes and have low or no tax zones and generous government subsidies (corporate welfare). They might want the government to reduce their labor costs by scrapping minimum wages laws, anti-pollution and environmental protection laws and any regulations that limit imports or flow of money into or out of a country.

They might ask for severe laws leading to criminal penalties for anyone perceived to have acted in any way that might jeopardise their maximum profit. They might even suggest that any disputes that they have with a government be dealt with outside the country. This way they could operate in a country and be above the law of that country.

Imagine if all their wishes were granted at the same time by an international agreement crafted in secret. The companies would win big time and the people would lose out on almost every aspect of their lives. Job losses, more work for less money, harsher working conditions, poorer health, less leisure. The distribution of the country’s wealth would be tilted even more to the rich at the cost of the poor. The lucky country would become the unlucky country ruined by corporate greed.

This all sounds like the basis of a good dystopian novel except that it’s REALLY happening right now. It’s called the Transpacific Partnership or TPP. It’s supposed to be a ‘free trade’ agreement designed for 12 countries around the Pacific Ocean including Australia and New Zealand but it’s not about ‘free trade’ at all, it’s about restrictive trade and control of the world’s Intellectual Property (IP) and much more. It will change the way we live. It will cost every one of us in Australia a lot of money for very little benefit for decades to come. We should be concerned.

In a study on the “Economic Gains and Costs of the TPP” in New Zealand, the study was scathing about the modelling methods used by the US company employed by the NZ government to justify joining the TPP… “the TPP could sharply increase income and wealth inequality. A significant part of the rise in inequality over the last three decades has been widely attributed to globalization and the TPP can be expected to exacerbate this.”

There is also a similar trade agreement being discussed for most of Europe called the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

Joseph Stiglitz (Nobel Prize winner, former World Bank chief economist) has stated

“[T]he negotiations to create a free-trade area between the US and Europe, and another between the US and much of the Pacific (except for China), are not about establishing a true free-trade system. Instead, the goal is a managed trade regime managed, that is, to serve the special interests [the multinational companies] that have long dominated trade policy in the West.”

“The likelihood that what emerges from the coming talks will serve ordinary Americans’ interests is low; the outlook for ordinary citizens in other countries is even bleaker.”

The TPP regulations cover not just trade but almost every aspect of our lives. Only 3 chapters of 29 are about trade, the rest cover everything from the use of the Internet, to labor and working conditions, food and agriculture, medicine and drugs, environment and pollution to flow of money in and out of countries and it’s been completely done in secret. Hundreds of advisers from the multinationals are involved but no consumer organisations and not even our own parliamentarians in Australia are privy to its contents.

If both the TPP and the TTIP are signed and ratified, without the people being a part of the process then the multinational companies will have a template to rule the world. It’s been called a “corporate coup in disguise” in the USA and strongly criticized in the UK and other countries. The multinationals have much to gain, and similarly you and I in Australia have much to lose.

These so called “Free Trade“ agreements will cause a dramatic reduction in democracy around the world as no one will be able to instruct their own governments to make laws to protect them from corruption, pollution, environmental destruction and the often antisocial and malevolent actions of some of the multinational corporations. We already know how hard it is to stop the big miners from polluting and destroying the environment in Australia without the TPP.

The Labor PartyGreens, The Australian Consumers Association (ACA), the Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network (AFTINET) encompassing dozens of consumer and human rights groups are alarmed and have been campaigning for release of the documents of the agreement so that the people of Australia can examine and judge the agreement BEFORE it is signed into law by our parliament. Dozens of eminent Australian lawyers have signed an open letter to the Prime Minister stating that the TPP will endanger Australia’s sovereignty.

This first article is on the Intellectual Property (IP) rights chapter leaked by Wikileaks and found to have unsettling consequences for you and me by many consumer and human rights organisations around the world .

Julian Assange of WikiLeaks said. “If instituted, the TPP’s IP regime would trample over individual rights and free expression, as well as ride roughshod over the intellectual and creative commons.” And “If you read, write, publish, think, listen, dance, sing or invent; if you farm or consume food; if you’re ill now or might one day be ill, the TPP has you in its crosshairs.”

The Electronic Frontiers Foundation (EFF) in the USA has examined the Wikileaks document on Intellectual Property and said “The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a secretive, multi-national trade agreement that threatens to extend restrictive intellectual property (IP) laws across the globe and rewrite international rules on its enforcement. The main problems are two-fold: (1) IP chapter: Leaked draft texts of the agreement show that the IP chapter would have extensive negative ramifications for users’ freedom of speech, right to privacy and due process, and hinder peoples’ abilities to innovate. (2) Lack of transparency: The entire process has shut out multi-stakeholder participation and is shrouded in secrecy.” “The TPP Will Rewrite Global Rules on Intellectual Property Enforcement” “All signatory countries will be required to conform their domestic laws and policies to the provisions of the Agreement.” “The leaked US IP chapter includes many detailed requirements that are more restrictive than current international standards, and would require significant changes to other countries’ copyright laws.” 

The Ramifications for Australia  Unfair restrictive laws with regard to the Internet, books, software, games, videos  and movies that will NOT benefit any Australian.

  1. Regulations and penalties to FORCE Internet service providers to police their Internet users connections and take down / block any sites that appear might be in breach of the US based copyright laws. It means Internet CENSORSHIP. It means that the Australian government will lose the rights to make laws regarding IP on the Internet. A similar rule to this was blocked by International protest last year.
  2. Treat temporary reproductions of copyrighted works without copyright holders’ authorization as copyright infringement.  You won’t be able to save ANYTHING shown on commercial radio, TV or the Internet to show other people or even comment about without being in breach of the law. This will drastically affect social media and Utube content.
  3. The TPP wants copyright terms to go well beyond the internationally agreed period in the 1994 Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). This is NOT about fair compensation for the authors. It’s about big multimedia companies controlling art and literature and making profit out of it forever.
  4. Restrictions on Fair use of IP for example in reviews and research. This will affect libraries, schools, universities, social media and anyone wishing to do research or study.
  5. Digital Locks. The TPP calls for more extensive use of digital locks on media content. This will override Australia’s  2007 TPM regime exclusions for region-coding on movies on DVDs, videogames, and players, and for embedded software in devices that restrict access to goods and services for the device. In the US, business competitors have used digital locks to try to block printer cartridge refill services, competing garage door openers, and to lock mobile phones to particular network providers.
  6. Ban parallel importation of genuine goods acquired from other countries without the authorization of copyright owners. This will allow local branches of overseas companies to fix prices to limit competition and it will stop people from buying cheaper versions of the same software or media from overseas suppliers. Definitely NOT free trade.
  7. Adopt criminal sanctions for copyright infringement that is done without a commercial motivation. In short it means MASSIVE PENALTIES perhaps thousands of dollars and gaol sentences for any person caught copying a single song, video, movie or anything under copyright even for use within the same household. We will all be criminals.

Increased Cost of Medicine and Drugs.

Oxfam says that the “US [TPP] proposals will have dire health consequences across Asia and Latin America. Medicine Sans Frontiers (MSF), says this about the TPP effect on public health in Australia.

  1. “US proposals would require the further patenting of modifications of old medicines, even in the absence of therapeutic benefits. They would also require patenting of surgical, therapeutic and diagnostic methods which could increase medical liability and the cost of medical practice and thus reduce access to medical procedures.”
  2. “It would prohibit pre-grant opposition to patents. This would make it much more difficult and costly for local organisations to challenge patents and drugs protected by patents even if the patents were invalid.”
  3. “It would also extend patents past the current 20-year norm and prohibit national drug regulatory authorities from approving generic medicine until patents have expired.”
  4. “Finally it would prevent drug safety regulators from using existing clinical data to give market approval to generic or biosimilar drugs. These are all great wins for big pharmaceutical companies. But they come at the cost of public health.”

In summary, all medicine and drugs in Australia and most other countries will cost more. This will inevitably force the government to make changes to Medicare either increasing the levy or reducing the benefits or both.

The real problem is that the current Australian government wants to sign the TPP with undue haste not caring to either tell the public about its contents or even debating its good and bad points in parliament. Fortunately the Greens and Labor successfully joined together to force the release of the text before it is approved by parliament.

However, political opinions vary from day to day. We could literally go from a democracy to a corporate controlled state in the next few months without most of the people being aware. The only good thing is that it is a multilateral agreement and many of the countries involved are against many of the US based proposals consequently there is a large lack of consensus.

The TPP will also have massive negative effects on Australian human rights, agriculture, food supply and the environment in general. But more about these in part 2.

What can you do… find out more … see ACA and / or AFTINET web sites … tell your friends, family and neighbours … the TPP will affect EVERY Australian … most probably ADVERSELY.

Latest Update – Hundreds of Tech Companies Complain

Further reading.

TPP Part 2- Will Tony Abbot Use the ISDS in the TPP to Sell Our Souls to the DEVIL?

TPP Part 3 – The Hidden Agenda of the TPP- to Block Global Warming Mitigation

 

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Des Pensable

Des is a native of Sydney where he currently lives with his partner Joanne. He has a PhD in neuroscience and worked as a biomedical scientist where he published widely in several areas of science. Since retiring, he’s been a keen writer of poetry, stories and philosophy which appear on his web, blog site and on line literary publications. He is also a performance poet that appears regularly in venues around Sydney.

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