The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is heading towards its final version according to the Australian Trade Minister. Reportedly the controversial US provision on intellectual property (IP) is no longer the stumbling block, instead the section of the agreement on agriculture, particularly sugar, is requiring extra efforts to complete.
Trade Minister Andrew Robb says the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade agreement is close to being “sealed”. Mr Robb, in the US to lead the Australian government’s delegation for the G’Day USA promotion, said the Obama administration had wanted him to go to Washington DC for talks on the FTA. However, he said he would wait for formal TPP discussions scheduled “in a couple of weeks”.
The US’ IP proposal gained international attention when it was published by Wikileaks. The IP plan gave massive power to media companies to disrupt the internet to protect their government granted monopolies. Also included at the US’ insistence are plans to deregulate Wall Street, essentially going around Congress and the meager new Dodd-Frank law.
Yet, according to Trade Minister Robb, it is not America’s promotion of media conglomerates that is causing problems at this stage – but their favoritism towards domestic sugar producers.
Mr Robb told The Australian that many of the issues surrounding the TPP were close to resolution “but it still requires some market access issues to be put on the table”. He said, for instance, Japan needed to liberalise more on trade and the US could be more open on agriculture, including sectors such as sugar.
For those unaware, the Fanjul brothers run a virtual monopoly on sugar in America and have shoveled millions into both political parties. One brother is a Republican, one is a Democrat. The political influence they have purchased may be protecting them from being wrecked in the TPP, at least for now. The Fanjuls famously blocked the use of more economically efficient sugar based ethanol from Brazil being imported.
In any case, TPP seems poised to be finalized, then the question is whether President Obama and friends can jam it through Congress and we can surrender our rights fully to corporate power.