Canada just agreed to move forward with TPP

Last week in Vietnam, the remaining TPP countries agreed to move forward with the TPP without the US. They made some tweaks, and agreed to almost every part of the new deal, except 4 things, which they’re now working out so they can conclude and sign a finalized agreement.[1] 

Lots of folks have been asking for more information on the new TPP. There's some good, some bad, and some ugly in the “new” TPP. Here's some more information:

So what the heck happened?

When the US pulled out of TPP earlier this year, the remaining countries started talking about  how to move forward without the US. This past week, leaders met at a summit in Vietnam, where negotiators presented a new TPP-11 agreement.[4] 

The most pro-TPP countries - Japan and Australia - led the charge to get it signed. Trudeau caught everyone by surprise by not turning up to a key meeting, and instead demanding more changes.[5] 

Trudeau’s move triggered another furious round of talks by trade ministers and negotiators. That late-night scramble succeeded in rescuing the dealThe remaining countries —  including Canada — have now agreed to the core elements of a new TPP deal, as well as the plan for finalizing the rest. In other words, it’s back.[6]

So what’s in the new deal? There’s some good, some bad, and some ugly.

The Good

Some controversial parts of the original TPP have been suspended indefinitely - including new copyright rules that would have restricted research and access to books, as well as patent extensions on medicines that would have made medication less affordable.[7] This is good news.

Malaysia and Vietnam also wanted to opt out of the environmental and labour provisions after the US left the deal. Thanks to Canada stalling at the Summit, those countries have now come back onside, and have agreed to the environmental and labour standards of the original TPP (although these standards are vague and many think far too weak.) [8]

There are only four remaining items in the TPP that need to be figured out before countries formally sign the agreement. Canada says it is looking to carve out cultural exemptions in the new TPP to remove restrictions on Canadian - specifically french cultural content.[9]

The Bad

While the suspension of the copyright and drug patents rules should be celebrated, these rules could make their way back into the agreement. 

If the US decides to re-join the TPP at some point (which is still possible), it will trigger the ability for the US to re-negotiate these toxic parts back in.[10]

The new TPP timeline is also rushed. According to reports, Trade Ministers are expected to work out a rapid timeline for finalising a deal, which could come as early as February.[11] There still aren't details about what exactly has been agreed to, so there remain lots of unanswered questions.

What we do know is that the Trudeau’s government spent months consulting the public on the TPP, and during those consultations over 99% of participants wanted them to reject it.[12] To agree to move forward - and possibly fast-track - a new TPP that Canadians aren’t familiar with isn’t ok.

The Ugly.

In a word: ISDS.

ISDS is alive and well in the new TPP - which means if we ratify the new agreement, our laws and policies to protect the things we care about will be on the corporate chopping block.[13]

The Leadnow community’s top concern with the TPP has always been toxic ISDS rules that let corporations sue us in secret tribunals for our democratic decisions.

ISDS was also the most common concern raised in the government’s own TPP consultations.

That ISDS remains unscathed in a new TPP deal (which Trudeau is now branding a “progressive agreement”) when Trudeau had the chance to push for its removal last week, and since he’s heard loudly and clearly Canadians wanted it out  — is outrageous.  

And it begs the question: is the progress made on TPP good enough, or do we keep campaigning to oppose it?

Whew ok. There’s the download. One last thing: the progress already made on the TPP should be considered a people-powered victory. Because of you and tens of thousands of others who campaigned their butts off last year to toxify this deal, governments were forced to make the amendments above.

Together we raised the bar on trade, and last week’s TPP announcements — while not necessarily good enough — showed that we can have impact when we work together.

We can keep campaigning to raise that bar even higher.

[1]  Radio New Zealand, Re-branded TPP on track to be concluded 
[2] Globe and Mail, No deal better than bad deal
[3] The Conversation: The Trans-Pacific Partnership is back: experts respond
[4-6] Radio New Zealand, Re-branded TPP on track to be concluded 
[7] The Conversation: The Trans-Pacific Partnership is back: experts respond (see #3); Globe and Mail, No deal better than bad deal
[8] CBC, Canada and 10 other countries reach an agreement on Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal
[9-11] Radio New Zealand, Re-branded TPP on track to be concluded 
[12] The Tyee, What’s the problem with the TPP? 
[13] The Conversation: The Trans-Pacific Partnership is back: experts respond