The 11 remaining countries involved in the original Trans-Pacific Partnership have agreed on a new text and new name to revive this failed agreement. They agreed in Tokyo on January 23, 2018, to rename the deal and to suspend some of its most controversial clauses, pending the possible US return to the agreement. The original signing timetable has blown out, Australia is now looking to t=sign the deal shortly. Only then will the text be made public and reviewed by a parliamentary committee on which the government has a majority. 

The new TPP deal is known as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP TPP-11). It is marketed as a Free Trade Agreement, and there are some free trade components. Specific side agreements deal with market access and tariffs for specific products, which we recognise as being a trade deal. In order to spruik the success of the TPP for signatories each party has conceded and benefited from some trade regulation changes. This allows the proponents to put out media releases that promote the trade benefits, without mentioning the concessions made to other countries so they could make the same claim. Everyone wins under the TPP - which of course is not possible.

The reason why there is so much opposition to the TPP is not to do with what are quite small changes to access and tariffs, especially as they represent a zero sum game when you consider the overall wins & losses.

For a full explanation of the TPP please visit http://aftinet.org.au/cms/

The massive problem is the loss of sovereignty that this agreement includes. Most trade deals in the modern era have included ISDS (Investor State Dispute Settlement) clauses. These provide an avenue for a Country, or a Company that feels they have been treated in a manner that is against the law of the agreement to appeal. Now that is fine, it keeps everyone honest. The significant issue here is the question of who rules on that dispute, and what relief can be ordered. To date these disputes have been handled by the Court system of the offending Country. That brings the dispute under their law, uses duly appointed judges, has rules of evidence and appeal procedures. The results from this system are outcomes that are based in law and usually fairness.

Under the ISDS provisions of the CPTPP Countries lose this right to fair legal process with new Corporate Courts being created with their own rules that stand apart from the legal system of member countries. This is why discussion about the CPTPP talks about a loss of sovereignty. The judges work for the Corporations and they can make any ruling they like, including billion dollar judgements. The only appeal is back to the same Court. Failure to pay by a member Country will result in penalties and forced compliance by the United Nations World Bank, and sanctions from the United Nations World Trade Organisation. 

Clearly then the CPTPP is not about trade but elevating Corporations above the laws of the signatory nations. In effect the CPTPP treats member Corporations as sovereign nations, existing on the same level as a Country. This is going to be a disaster.

More information about the ISDS is here

A history of ISDS abuse is here.