Protests Against the Alleged ‘Super-NAFTA’
A number of US-based newsagents have reported protests against the North American participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) sparked by the most recent negotiation round held in Auckland, New Zealand in December.
Initiated in 2010, the TPP is a proposed trade and investment treaty presently under negotiation by Australia, Brunei, Chile, Canada, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the USA and Vietnam. As outlined on The Office of the United States Trade Representative website, TPP presents a proposed “21st-century agreement” that aims to enhance trade and investment among TPP partner countries and to “promote innovation, economic growth and development and support the creation and retention of jobs”.
Referred to by several newsagents as “NAFTA on steroids”, the TPP aims at the establishment of a trade agreement between 11 countries that are geographically linked through their proximity to the Pacific.
Canada and Mexico participated in the TPP negotiations for the first time this past December. It has been noted that their partaking adds considerably to the economic importance of the agreement as well as the establishment of TPP as a promising pathway to an exceedingly broad regional integration effort.
Despite the protest voiced by advocacy groups due to the lacking transparency of the negotiations and the deemed scope of the agreement, the negotiators in New Zealand stated that they hoped to establish the Partnership by the end of 2013.
Fears and Criticism
Director of the US-based Public Global Citizen’s Trade Watch, Lori Wallach, criticizes that what is known about the largely secret negotiations suggests an agenda demanding aggressive intellectual property provisions, which would “roll back” public health safeguards in favor of enhanced corporate patent and data protection. Other critics emphasize that the treaty’s expansion of corporate power will likely challenge national laws on worker rights, environmental regulations and consumer protections.
Japan’s Interest in TPP Encourages Canada’s Participation
In an article for the Canadian newsagent ipolitics, trade strategist Peter Clark suggests that Canada’s decision to partake in the TPP negotiations was significantly advanced by Japan’s interest in joining the forum. Japan is presently Canada’s fourth largest merchandise export market. Based on the significance of this economic tie, Japan’s ambition to become part of the trade agreement has augmented Canada’s incentive to establish its position within the ongoing negotiations, Clark argues.
The Future of NAFTA Questioned
With Mexico and Canada as members of the TPP negotiations, a public discourse regarding the future relevance of NAFTA has emerged. Inasmuch as NAFTA and TPP are likely to address a number of similar issues, TPP as the more recent agreement would override NAFTA. Others suggest that NAFTA and TPP have the potential to coexist as overlapping regional integration efforts.