TPP reaction: Hillary comes out against treaty

Hillary Clinton, Democratic frontrunner for the 2016 presidential election, has again broken with President Barack Obama on policy, this time on the TPP.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor

In the three days since the newly agreed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was signed, much of the reaction to the treaty has been consistent with prior statements on the issues it relates to.

One notable exception has been Hillary Clinton, who regularly promoted White House efforts to complete a huge trade accord with Pacific Rim countries while she was US secretary of state, but has now publicly stated her opposition to the deal.

The announcement marks yet another Clinton break from President Barack Obama as she gears up for an intense 2016 campaign battle for the White House.

The TPP, signed on Monday between Australia, the United States, New Zealand, Canada, Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia, Japan, Mexico, Peru, Brunei, and Chile, will be the largest regional trade pact ever, encompassing 40 percent of the global economy and marking one of Obama's key diplomatic and economic achievements.

The full text of the notoriously secretive agreement has yet to be published, with the member states only releasing summaries thus far.

But Clinton, frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination, said on Wednesday that given what she knows about the deal, it falls short of her "high bar" for creating American jobs, raising wages, and advancing US national security.

"As of today, I am not in favour of what I have learned about it," she told public broadcaster PBS in an interview. "I don't believe it's going to meet the high bar that I have set."

Clinton said she is "worried" in particular about currency manipulation provisions not being included in the text of the accord.

"We've lost American jobs to the manipulations that countries, particularly in Asia, have engaged in," Clinton said.

US lawmakers have cautiously welcomed the free-trade accord, but it faces intense scrutiny in Congress, which will vote on its ratification in 2016.

A number of organisations have also spoken against the passage of TPP in recent days, among them the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).

"We have no reason to believe that the TPP has improved much at all from the last leaked version released in August," the EFF said in a statement. "So as long as it contains a retroactive 20-year copyright term extension, bans on circumventing DRM, massively disproportionate punishments for copyright infringement, and rules that criminalise investigative journalists and whistleblowers, we have to do everything we can to stop this agreement from getting signed, ratified, and put into force.

"As we continue to fight this toxic, corporate-captured trade deal, we need to remember this fact: Laws made in secret, with no public oversight or input, are illegitimate. If we're to defend one of the fundamental pillars of modern government, that law should transparently reflect the will of the people, we need to fight back against an agreement that so flagrantly disregards the democratic process."

Australian Greens Senator Peter Whish-Wilson lambasted the Australian government for agreeing to dispute resolution provisions that would allow corporations to sue governments, saying the TPP was part of a global deregulation agenda being pushed by large, mainly US, corporations.

"The TPP is not about free trade; it is about increased protections for big business in pharmaceuticals and copyright, but limits governments' ability to regulate against corporations' impacts on the community and environment," he said.

"Malcolm Turnbull and Andrew Robb have done what John Howard and Mark Vaile refused to do: Via the TPP, they have granted US corporations to the right to sue the Australian government over making laws in the public interest."

The Australian Labor party broadly welcomed the agreement, but said it would be looking at the dispute resolution provisions.

"Labor opposes the inclusion of Investor State Dispute Settlement provisions in all trade agreements, and will carefully scrutinise relevant provisions in the TPP, including claimed carve-outs," Labor leader Bill Shorten said in a statement.

"We will examine the agreement in detail once the text has been released."

Meanwhile, the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) welcomed the agreement and its potential to boost growth.

"The TPP is a watershed moment in the development of Australia's digital economy," AIIA CEO Suzanne Campbell said. "With the end of the mining boom, the opportunity for Australian workers is in the digital economy. The TPP recognises this opportunity and opens the door for our entrepreneurs to build new, multinational businesses based on innovative technology and services.

"Importantly, the TPP will expose Australians companies to competition with the best in the world, which will breed better home-grown products and services for the Asia-Pacific market."

The text of the TPP is being finalised, after which each of the 12 countries involved will begin the law-making process.

"For Australia, this will involve tabling the treaty text in parliament along with a National Interest Analysis and a review by the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties to which all interested parties can make submissions," Australian Trade Minister Andrew Robb said on Monday.

Under the terms of the TPP, government mandates forcing companies to store its data in local datacentres will be a thing of the past among the countries involved.

"TPP parties commit to ensuring free flow of the global information and data that drive the internet and the digital economy, subject to legitimate public policy objectives, such as personal information protection," the US TPP summary states.

"The 12 parties also agree not to require that TPP companies build datacenters to store data as a condition for operating in a TPP market, and, in addition, that source code of software is not required to be transferred or accessed."

The agreement will also protect and enforce online copyright infringement in a manner reflective of a notification regime, according to the Canadian government's summary of the document.

New Zealand's Q&A summary of the TPP reveals that it will need to extend its copyright by 20 years.

"The only significant cost comes from extending New Zealand's copyright period from 50 to 70 years. This cost -- in terms of foregone savings on books, films, music, and other works -- increases gradually over 20 years, and averages around NZ$55 million a year over the very long term," it said.

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