The ranks of those who understand every clause of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) are crowded. (I jest, just a little). Equally crowded are the ranks of those who criticize it roundly. (No joke).
But here, for what it’s worth is a layperson’s guide to all that’s right about the TPP, drawing heavily from the transmitted wisdom of Professor Jeffrey Frankel of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. (He was also an economic advisor to President Clinton):
- it’s not about left versus right, or only in a good way. It has measures to promote labour union rights in Vietnam and to crack down on human trafficking in Malaysia
- the TPP gives pharmaceutical firms, tobacco companies, and other corporations substantially less than they had asked for. For instance, Australia can still go ahead and ban brand-name logos on cigarette packs. And US pharma and biotech companies have more intellectual property protection than before but only for five to eight years rather than 12
- it gives environmentalists quite a lot, not least substantial steps to enforce the prohibitions contained in CITES, the hard-to-remember acronym for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. Under the TPP, trade sanctions could be enforced for depleting marine life
- there is a genuine broadening of the sectors in which liberalization will be allowed. Japan, for instance, will allow more dairy products, sugar, beef, and rice from, say, New Zealand and Australia
Doesn’t sound so bad to me. But then I probably don’t understand the TPP enough.