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The Trans-Pacific Partnership made easy

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The Trans-Pacific Partnership(TPP) is a free trade agreement(FTA) between Asian-Pacific nations that seeks to expand trade and growth regionally, integrating 11 nations and myriad industries, which in total make up roughly 40% of the entire global economy.

The nations currently included in the TPP are the United States, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

A WaPo article states:

"Countries make free trade agreements in order to open up new markets for their goods, while avoiding the tariffs and import quotas on many goods that usually govern global economics. If another country does not produce goods or services that are plentiful and inexpensive in your country, it would be beneficial for both countries to negotiate a free trade agreement."

The most well-known FTA the US is currently a part of is NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement, between the US, Canada, and Mexico.

Matt Stoller wrote in 2012:

"NAFTA-style agreements have provisions that constrain domestic food safety, environmental and health regulations, shield foreign investment capital from domestic laws, and generally transfer sovereignty from the government to the corporate sector."

While the Peterson Institute of International Economics noted that it currently estimated a potential benefit of $78 billion in gained income in the US.

The TPP puts corporations at the forefront of policy that was previously kept sovereign, meaning laws and regulations specific to the countries signed onto the TPP would be null and void.

Trade Benefits America is a website that describes various FTA's effect in the US. It, more specifically, describes the possible benefits of the TPP to each of the 50 states, detailing how jobs, exports and investments will likely increase as a result.

This website is a coalition of some of the world's most powerful international corporations. It is a long and impressive list. To know that the economic clout within this list is throwing it's full support to the TPP makes it an almost sure-thing.

Effected Industries

The TPP gives the record and motion picture industry the ability to sue and prosecute parties who illegally downloaded and distribute copyrighted material regardless of whether or not monetary gain is involved, from individuals to illegal bootlegging factories. This means where penalties and fines were involved, there might now be jail time.

Recent controversies therein are the attempted passing of SOPA, PIPA, and the FTC and it's recent rulings that affect net neutrality. It's possible that this could result in a heavily regulated internet where corporations have the ability to pull content and lock out websites and individuals that they feel are violating their rules and conditions, based on intellectual property rights alone.

Next up is the pharmacological industry, which is currently allowed to hold patents on newly developed drugs for 12 years. This would expand that ability as well as make it illegal for partnering countries to use these drugs to potentially cure diseases without paying out to the patent holders.

It also expands the pharma industry's abilities to "evergreen" their products, whereby patents that are due to expire are "refreshed" by creating new specifications in the drug, detailed in this article from Thomas Faunce, about a trade agreement between the US and Australia that went into force in 2005:

"When the original patent over the active compound of a brand-name drug is due to expire, these drug companies often claim large numbers of complex and often highly speculative patents. Laws in the US and Canada require manufacturers to notify the original brand-name patent holders of their intention to market copies at the expiry of the original patent. The original patent holders can then threaten these potential generic competitors with breaching their now "evergreened" patents and seek a court order preventing their marketing approval.

Agriculture is also one of the main focuses of the bill, and gives agricultural companies, like Monsanto, the ability to patent life forms, like plants and animals, and force Governments under the TPP to buy their GMO's, as well as fine and prosecute those who infringe upon intellectual property rights.

Another leading point for industry is that the US Government has a stipulation where they have to buy American products, such as police cars having to be specifically American-made. According to the current version of the TPP, this would no longer be the case and various firms and manufacturers could sell their products to the US Government, instead of keeping US Government acquired property, in this fashion, sovereign.

Politics

Details of the agreement are available to the President and members of the Obama Administration, but US lawmakers and politicians have been locked out of seeing the agreement, which is currently deemed classified, although this has not prevented popular whistle blower website Wikileaks from releasing the first proposed draft of the TPP on their website.

China is not involved, but this FTA would effect China's oncoming economic world domination, whilst the Asian nation is also working on similar free trade deals with these same countries as well as the European Union.

Critics agree that the United States is looking towards Asia and using its influence to leverage economic power in a region where China has fast become the most critical influence by taking a wide-spectrum of interest in countries along the pacific rim.

As this develops, more nations are likely to show interest and jump aboard the TPP bandwagon. South Korea has already expressed keen interest.

Previously, the US focused its foreign policy on the Middle Eastern and European regions, but with President Obama's appointment of John Kerry as Secretary of State during the onset of his second term as President, Obama noted a "pivot to Asia", illustrating a picture of the shifting dominion of power globally towards China, and making Japan the US's primary economic and military stronghold on that continent.

Its also serves as an excuse for high-level US democrats to tout their political successes and legacies, such as President Obama and Hillary Clinton. If the TPP proves possible it would be a big foreign policy plus for her, another potential bullet point of why she should be the democratic front-runner for President in 2016.

"The future of politics will be decided in Asia, not Afghanistan or Iraq, and the United States will be right at the center of the action", she wrote as a statement on Foreign Policy in 2011. While Truth-out notes this recent development:

"US President Barack Obama's April 23-25 visit to Japan unfortunately went pretty much as expected. Obama asked for concessions on a Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade agreement, and received a souvenir "key milestone" whose content and location remain a mystery."

Whatever the future holds for the economy along the America's and the pacific rim, it's obvious that Americans, in general, are grossly under-educated as to the consequences the Trans-Pacific Partnership holds for the future.

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