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As Promised in my last post. Sorry this is another long winded post.

My blog has numerous posts on Inequality. The principal reason that we have such a messed up world.

In my view Inequality is the fundamental driving force behind, Conflicts, Poverty of all Correlations, Climate Change, Slave Labor, Immigration, Corruption and the pending collapse of Capitalism as we know it.

I have pointed my figure at Sovereign Wealth Funds, Electronic Trading, Foreign Exchange Manipulation.  Each one of them is at this every moment plundering the world willy nilly in adoration of the God Greed/Profit.

I have said that it is naive to think that we can change or remove any of the them from our Technological Capitalist driven world.  On the other hand with our collective power through Social Media we can demand that a COMMISSION of 0.05% is placed on their activities. Creating a perpetual fund to tackle Inequality and return the world to a more even keel. ( See previous posts)

The possibility of this happening within our out of date World Organisation is Zero. It can only happen if we all exert pressure as global citizen on the United Nations to pass a people’s resolution to apply such a commission.

So we are left with business as usual.

And that is exactly what is taking place with The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) a proposed regional regulatory and investment treaty. Which appears from what I can gather is a primary goal of the Obama administration in the United States of America.

So here we go again.

Profit before everything else with a vast potential to exacerbate economic inequality. A recipe for less protection for citizens and more rights for Big Business.  To increase trade for trade’s sake.

This agreement is basically a permanent power grab by corporations and financial companies that will make it impossible for the citizens of countries joining the TPP to choose what laws and rules they want to live under.

Now you might say with all the problems we have in the world so what.  It is just another Trade Agreement, it will have little or no effect on me.

You could be right.  It’ll be hard to notice at first, and it will depend on who you are and where you are.

Anyway if you’re just now hearing about the Trans-Pacific Partnership, don’t worry: Like me you’d also be forgiven for not hearing about it:

But in the off-chance that you might be interested here is what I have learned to date.

Its has now been under negotiation for nearly a decade.

It began in 2005 as an agreement between Singapore, Chile, New Zealand and Brunei, before the U.S. under George W. Bush took the lead in 2009. The last round of meeting was in Ottawa from 3–12 July 2014. The negotiations now include 600 corporate advisers.

The countries currently party to the agreement — currently include Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Canada, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam, most critically Japan and potentially Korea — are some of the U.S.’ biggest and fastest-growing commercial partners, accounting for $1.5 trillion worth of trade in goods in 2012 and $242 billion worth of services in 2011.

So what  big country is not in the TPP …That’s right: China. I wonder why not.

Probable like you I thought we already had a World Trade Organization. So why do we need a separate Asia trade deal? and without China.?

Is this trade agreement another neoliberal project. To maximize profit and domination, and to set the working people in the world in competition with one another so as to lower wages to increase insecurity.

Is it the currency manipulation, which wouldn’t directly affect China as a non-member the real target.

So just what are we talking about here.

Fortunately for those of us who live like mushrooms it has not gone totally unnoticed.

In March 2013, four thousand Japanese farmers held a protest in Tokyo over the potential for cheap imports to severely damage the local agricultural industry.

Malaysian protesters dressed as zombies outside a shopping mall in Kuala Lumpur on 21 February 2014 to protest the impact of the TPP on the price of medicines, including treatment drugs for HIV.

On 29 March 2014, 15 anti-TPP protests occurred across New Zealand, including a demonstration in Auckland attended by several thousand people

On 27 January 2015, protesters hijacked an US Senate hearing to speak out against the TPP and were promptly removed by capital police officers.

It is serving only the interests of the wealthiest.

Is it a secretive, multinational trade agreement that threatens to extend restrictive intellectual property (IP) laws across the globe and rewrite international rules on its enforcement?

It is a 21st-century trade agreement involving 11 Asian countries along the Pacific Rim, and said to cover 40% of the world’s economy. Representing 792 million people and accounting for 40 percent of the world economy.

Yet it’s been devised in secret. Written behind closed doors by the corporate world.

Trans-Pacific Partnership-2

Trade negotiations are usually conducted in private, on the theory that parties won’t be able to have a meaningful dialogue if their positions are disclosed to the public. Accordingly, TPP parties have signed a confidentiality agreement requiring them to share proposals only with “government officials and individuals who are part of the government’s domestic trade advisory process.

” So but wait, how will this actually affect my life?”

Global health advocates, environmentalists, Internet activists and trade unions are deeply concerns about what the deal might contain.

It’s expected to eliminate tariffs on goods and services, tear down a host of non-tariff barriers and harmonize all sorts of regulations when it’s finished early next year..

It raises significant concerns about citizens’ freedom of expression, due process, innovation, the future of the Internet’s global infrastructure, and the right of sovereign nations to develop policies and laws that best meet their domestic priorities.

What few seem to realize is that this agreement, if approved as is, could make it virtually impossible for the United States to meet its current and future climate pledges. 

In sum, the TPP puts at risk some of the most fundamental rights that enable access to knowledge for the world’s citizens.

Former national security adviser Tom Donilon called it  the “centerpiece of our economic re balancing” and a “platform for regional economic integration” — after too many years of American foreign policy being bogged down in the Middle East.

How is it different from other trade deals done? 

The entire process has shut out multi-stakeholder participation and is shrouded in secrecy.

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 people’s’ abilities to innovate.

The TPP — encompass a broad range of regulatory and legal issues, making them a much more central part of foreign policy and even domestic lawmaking.

Everything from financial services to telecommunications to sanitary standards for food.

Some parts of it have significant ramifications for countries’ own legal regimes, such as the part about regulatory coherence,” which encourages countries to set up a mechanism like the U.S.’ own Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs to conduct cost-benefit analyses on new rules.

One of the contentious issue of the TPP negotiations has been currency manipulation, where in a country devalues its currency to boost exports and gain a trade advantage. Organisations such as the WTO or IMF cannot control such currency manipulation, so some are calling upon the US to “use the free-trade talks to force an end to such actions.

The US has been seeking trade rules that secure and extend their patents, trademarks, and copyrights abroad, and protect their global franchise agreements, securities, and loans. But they want less protection of consumers, workers, small investors, and the environment, because these interfere with their profits.

What is wrong with trade rules that allow them to override these protections.

For example, that the pharmaceutical industry gets stronger patent protections, delaying cheaper generic versions of drugs. That will be a good deal for Big Pharma but not necessarily for the inhabitants of developing nations who won’t get certain life-saving drugs at a cost they can afford.

In other words, the TPP is a Trojan horse in a global race to the bottom, giving big corporations and Wall Street banks a way to eliminate any and all laws and regulations that get in the way of their profits.

Why You Should Care about the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

It’s worth considering the ramifications of  such an agreement which has unbelievable potential to exacerbate economic inequality.

Here are a few good reasons for consideration.

At a time when corporate profits are at record highs and the real median wage is lower than it’s been in four decades, most of us need protection — not from international trade but from the political power of large corporations and Electronic Stock Exchange Trading.

There are provisions in the TPP that will prevent whistle blowers and journalists from accessing or ‘disclosing’ trade secrets through a computer system.

The TPP also gives global corporations an international tribunal of private attorneys, outside any nation’s legal system, who can order compensation for any “unjust expropriation” of foreign assets.

The foreign subsidiaries of U.S.-based corporations could just as easily challenge any U.S. government regulation they claim unfairly diminishes their profits — say, a regulation protecting American consumers from unsafe products or unhealthy foods, investors from fraudulent securities or predatory lending, workers from unsafe working conditions, taxpayers from another bailout of Wall Street, or the environment from toxic emissions.

Even better for global companies, the tribunal can order compensation for any lost profits found to result from a nation’s regulations.

Philip Morris is using a similar provision against Uruguay (the provision appears in a bilateral trade treaty between Uruguay and Switzerland), claiming that Uruguay’s strong anti-smoking regulations unfairly diminish the company’s profits.

It is protecting the interests of the largest multinational corporations at the expense of workers, consumers, the environment and the foundations democracy.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a secretive, multinational trade agreement that threatens to extend restrictive intellectual property (IP) laws across the globe and rewrite international rules on its enforcement.

The TPP would force the adoption of the US DMCA ( see below appendix) Internet intermediaries copyright safe harbor regime in its entirety. For example, this would require Chile to rewrite its forward-looking 2010 copyright law that currently establishes a judicial notice-and-take down regime, which provides greater protection to Internet users’ expression and privacy than the DMCA.

It will compel signatory nations to enact laws banning circumvention of digital locks( technological protection measures on TPMs) that mirror the DMCA and treat violation of the TPM provisions as a separate offense even when no copyright infringement is involved.

This would require countries like New Zealand to completely rewrite its innovative 2008 copyright law, as well as override Australia’s carefully-crafted 2007 TPM regime exclusions for region-coding on movies on DVDs, video games, and players, and for embedded software in devices that restrict access to goods and services for the device—a thoughtful effort by Australian policy makers to avoid the pitfalls experienced with the US digital locks provisions.

In the US, business competitors have used the DMCA to try to block printer cartridge refill services, competing garage door openers, and to lock mobile phones to particular network providers.

Dangerously vague text on the misuse of trade secrets, which could be used to enact harsh criminal punishments against anyone who reveals or even accesses information through a “computer system” that is allegedly confidential.

Create copyright terms well beyond the internationally agreed period in the 1994 Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). The TPP could extend copyright term protections from life of the author + 50 years, to Life + 70 years for works created by individuals, and either 95 years after publication or 120 years after creation for corporate owned works (such as Mickey Mouse).

The U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) is putting fair use at risk with restrictive language in the TPP’s IP chapter. (see below Appendix)

US and Australia have proposed very restrictive text, while other countries such as Chile, New Zealand, and Malaysia, have proposed more flexible, user-friendly terms.

Adopt criminal sanctions for copyright infringement that is done without a commercial motivation. Users could be jailed or hit with debilitating fines over file sharing, and may have their property or domains seized even without a formal complaint from the copyright holder.

In short, countries would have to abandon any efforts to learn from the mistakes of the US and its experience with the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) over the last 12 years, and adopt many of the most controversial aspects of US copyright law in their entirety.

At the same time, the US IP chapter (see below Appendix) does not export the limitations and exceptions in the US copyright regime like fair use, which have enabled freedom of expression and technological innovation to flourish in the US. It includes only a placeholder for exceptions and limitations.

This raises serious concerns about other countries’ sovereignty and the ability of national governments to set laws and policies to meet their domestic priorities.

Don’t worry: Negotiations over the huge trade agreement — which, when finished, will govern 40 percent of U.S.’ imports and exports.

In sum, the TPP puts at risk some of the most fundamental rights that enable access to knowledge for the world’s citizens.

And I thought that Trade agreements used to deal mostly just with goods:

The TPP will affect countries beyond the 11 that are currently involved in negotiations. 

Like ACTA,( Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement or Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) is an agreement secretly negotiated from 2007 to 2010 by a small “club” of countries (39 countries, including 27 of the European Union, the United States, Japan, etc) the TPP Agreement is a plurilateral agreement that will be used to create new heightened global IP enforcement norms.

Countries that are not parties to the negotiation will likely be asked to accede to the TPP as a condition of bilateral trade agreements with the US and other TPP members, or evaluated against the TPP’s copyright enforcement standards in the annual special 301 process administered by the US Trade Rep. (See below Appendix)

Six of the countries presently negotiating the TPP, and who have reportedly caved in and agreed on copyright term extension, would have been about to contribute cultural icons of their own to the public domain, enriching their own countries and the world with home-grown art, music, and film that is otherwise at risk of being forgotten. These countries are Brunei, Canada, New Zealand, Malaysia, Japan, and Vietnam.

We are left with the obvious question. Why is it that none of countries can see the damage this Agreement is going to inflict.

Many of the TPP’s current provisions are designed to exclude China, like those requiring yarn in clothing to come from countries party to the agreement, and could possibly invite retaliation.

As far as I can see the TPP is“disastrous”and its purpose should be denounced. It will extend problematic US laws into international law. One example: the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, which prosecutors used to hound open-web advocate Aaron Swartz.

Any of the six countries above can stop this deal!

If even one of the countries—Brunei, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand or Vietnam— is brave enough to stand up to the United States and block the extension of the copyright term, then that ill-advised deal could still fall through.

If you are from one of those countries, you can call your Member of Parliament, or your trade ministry, and demand that they save the public domain, by retaining the life plus 50 year copyright term that is your right under the Berne Convention.

If you are in the US, your best avenue to stop term extension, and the TPP’s other anti-user threats, is to support the Fast Track action group. For instance, there is a scuffle around the TPP’s rumored treatment of Digital Rights Management tools, which corporations use to limit access to digital devices – often to prevent piracy. TPP has provisions that make it a crime to break these locks, and to do things that aren’t even copyright infringement.

It includes provisions on intellectual property and copyright that are usually outside the boundaries of trade, critics say.

If it comes to fruition it will only encourage another regional pact that will just add complexity and undermine existing institutions.

The WTO ( World Trade Organisation) is too cumbersome.

Brussels, Jan. 7, 2015 — The European Commission published a raft of texts setting out EU proposals for legal text in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) it is negotiating with the US.

Not much different than the TTP other than it is more transparent. 

So let me ask you. You still think that it will have no effect on your life. Think again.

If you have concerns about the TPP,or the TTIP now is the time to speak up.

These trade negotiations are an assault on democracy. I would vote against them except… hang on a minute, I can’t Like you, I have no say whatsoever in whether TPP or TTIP goes through or not.

All I can do is tell as many people about it as possible, as I hope, will you.

We may be forced to accept an attack on democracy but we can at least fight against the conspiracy of silence.

Appendix:

⌈Digital Millennium Copyright Act⌋

⌈The IP Chapter covers topics from pharmaceuticals, patent registrations and copyright issues to digital rights. Experts say it will affect freedom of information, civil liberties and access to medicines globally.⌋

⌈Special 301 is an annual review process led by the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR). U.S. trade law (“Special 301”) requires an annual review of intellectual property protection and market access practices in foreign countries. Effective action under Special 301 by USTR has been essential in stemming the tidal wave of losses in U.S. jobs and competitiveness that have threatened one of our country’s most productive and fastest growing economic sectors. Special 301 and its leverage are a full-time process for the copyright industries which work with local private sector representatives, U.S. government officials, and U.S. Embassy officials to address and resolve copyright problems in scores of countries.⌋

 

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