TPPA – Democracy being shafted!

The TPPA is the largest trade deal in history currently being negotiated by 12 countries: Canada, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam. These countries represent 792 million people and a combined GDP of US$27.5 trillion (RM92 trillion), which accounts for 40 per cent of the world economy. It purportedly aims to increase the liberalization of economies in the Pacific region through abolition of tariffs on trade as well as re-regulation of critical aspects of the economy.

Because of its significance, scale and potential impact, we as citizens, need to know what our governments are signing up for. However, negotiations for the agreement have taken place behind closed doors and outside of the checks and balances that operate at traditional multilateral treaty-making organisations such as the World Intellectual Property Organization and the World Trade Organization (not that these bodies are fine examples of transparency and fair).

It is a non-transparent, secretive, multi-national trade agreement that raises significant concerns about citizens’ freedom of expression, due process, innovation, the future of the Internet’s global infrastructure, and the right of sovereign nations to develop policies and laws that best meet their domestic priorities.

We only know about the TPPA’s threats thanks to leaks. The public and political representatives (even in allegedly free, transparent and democratic countries like the USA) are not allowed to see the draft TPP text although more than 500 official corporate “trade advisors” (605 advisors) have has such special access and privilege.  Corporate lobbyists have access to the text, but legislators and parliamentarians do not.

When such access and negotiations are held in secret, there is no way that the democratic process can exert the checks and balances required to put limits on the negative effects of these agreements. As such, the TPPA is a threat to our democratic rights and freedoms.

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(thanks go to a friend who has been following this, and has helped by highlighting this to me)