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TPP: Supposed Free Trade Agreement To Expand Copyrights And Patents

Though the Trans-Pacific Partnership is being sold as a “free trade” agreement that will facilitate the flow of goods and services across national boundaries, a significant part of the agreement does the exact opposite. On Tuesday, the government of New Zealand revealed that TPP will require other countries to adopt a 70 years after death copyright length.

Combine the copyright provision with TPP’s provisions limiting competition among pharmaceutical companies that will drive up the cost of medicine worldwide and the term “free trade” seems less and less applicable to TPP.

If anything, TPP’s copyright and patent provisions could lead to less trade. As Dean Baker of the Center for Economic and Policy Research notes, “The rules that the United States is trying to impose on patents and copyrights and other forms of intellectual property claims will lead to considerably higher prices for the protected items.”

The “historic free trade” agreement is really about boosting profits for multinational corporations, particularly Hollywood and Big Pharma, who are using TPP and the power of the state to enforce dubious monopolies on art and technology, including medicines.

While the Obama Administration continues to refer to TPP as “The most progressive trade deal the world has ever seen,” the evidence indicates otherwise.

Not only will TPP limit the availability of healthcare in the developing world, it will further damage the environment, and lead to more inequality and job losses in the US, just as NAFTA did. Trade unions, human rights activists, environmentalists, and those advocating for reigning in Wall Street’s power have all come out against TPP.

The neoliberal agenda has been tried and tried again, and, despite the hype, the benefits never materialize for the vast majority.

The battle over TPP now goes to Congress where, not surprisingly, “the most progressive trade deal the world has ever seen” is being opposed by progressive members of Congress. But progressive opposition is not enough to stop after fast-track authority was given to President Obama. It will take a broad coalition to stop TPP.

Dan Wright

Dan Wright

Daniel Wright is a longtime blogger and currently writes for Shadowproof. He lives in New Jersey, by choice.