Jeffrey Frankel @ Project Syndicate
The TPP represents a triumph over long odds. Tremendous political obstacles, both domestic and international, had to be overcome to conclude the deal. And now critics of the TPP’s ratification, particularly in the United States, should read the agreement with an open mind..
The agreement gives pharmaceutical firms, tobacco companies, and other corporations substantially less than they had asked for. The agreement includes substantial steps to enforce the prohibitions contained in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). It also takes substantial steps to limit subsidies for fishing fleets. Similarly, various provisions in the area of labor practices, particularly in Southeast Asia, are progressive. These include measures to promote union rights in Vietnam and steps to crack down on human trafficking in Malaysia.
Likewise, the intellectual property protections might have established a 12-year monopoly on the data that US pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies compile on new drugs (particularly biologics), thereby impeding competition from lower-cost generic versions. In the end, these companies did not get all they wanted; while the TPP in some ways gives their intellectual property more protection than they had before, it assures protection of their data for only 5-8 years.
The dispute-settlement provisions might have interfered unreasonably with member countries’ anti-smoking campaigns, for example. But, in the end, the tobacco companies did not get what they had been demanding; Australia is now free to ban brand-name logos on cigarette packs. The TPP also sets other new safeguards against the misuse of the dispute-settlement mechanism.
The focus on new areas of deep integration should not obscure the old-fashioned free-trade benefits that are also part of the TPP: reducing thousands of existing tariff and non-tariff barriers. Also, the liberalization of agriculture – long a stubborn holdout in international trade negotiations – is noteworthy.
Read more… Why support TPP?