Monday, October 7, 2013

In Da News: Secretive Trans-Pacific Trade Deal Called a "Corporate Coup"

Ever heard of the Trans-Pacific Partnership? Me neither.

And yet, this far-reaching trade liberalization deal for the Pacific Rim -- covering nearly 40 percent of the world economy and 800 million people, including Canada and the U.S. -- could have important impacts in our lives.

And the agreement is already nearly a done deal. U.S. officials hope it will be concluded by the end of 2013.

The U.S.-led agreement, which one critic calls "a corporate coup d'état," would reportedly give pharmaceutical companies more years of monopoly prices on patents and the ability to restrict cheaper generic drugs (an initiative that led the group Médecins sans frontières to call the deal "the most harmful trade pact ever for access to medicines"); enact mandatory fines and household bans for internet copyright violations; and restrict the ability of governments to regulate or oversee things like food safety, fracking and banking misdeeds.

Here's a web discussion moderated by Maclean's magazine with more details.

Lack of Transparency

Odd that such an important deal wouldn't have gotten more attention in the news. I always thought I was reasonably well informed, but I first read about this proposed deal just today.

And it seems Canada's Harper government -- which supports the deal -- isn't displeased with the lack of attention, the Huffington Post reports.

As of late August, Canadian MPs didn't even have access to the negotiating text, this item says.

In some places where the deal is better known, it's not getting the most positive reception. In Malaysia, it's causing an uproar because it could limit the government's ability to promote affirmative action for ethnic Malays.

The Economist says the lack of transparency could imperil the deal and "feeds conspiracy theories." This Maclean's item agreed.

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