In still another sign of how the TPP is unraveling we have the story of Chile from Truthout.
Where the Trans-Pacific Partnership Could Lose
By Julia Paley, Truthout
Friday, 14 August 2015 00:00
In Chile, where the administration of President Michelle Bachelet has moved forward with the TPP negotiation process, opposition is strong in the legislature. Even Bachelet’s minister of foreign affairs has indicated that Chile won’t sign the agreement if the TPP doesn’t meet certain criteria.
The Chilean controversy over the TPP highlights some of the biggest problems with the agreement – for working people in Chile, the United States, and around the world – and it makes plain the false promises the Obama administration used to push Democrats to support fast track.
Under ordinary circumstances, signing on to a free trade agreement would be a no brainer for Chile. It has agreements with more countries than any other nation, and additional ones are on the way. In fact, Chile already has trade agreements with all the other countries involved in the TPP.
As critics in many countries agree, the TPP is expected to harm health by extending the duration of patents for medicines and medical procedures, making them unaffordable for millions of people and increasing the cost of implementing public health measures. The TPP is predicted to limit culture and education by increasing the time before movies, music, and books enter the public domain – thereby keeping the price too high for low-income people as well as schools and libraries. And the TPP could curtail Internet freedoms by impeding innovation and criminalizing popular forms of sharing. All of these, which could impact people in the United States as well, hit other countries especially hard.
What’s particularly thorny for Chile is that standards for these issues were already hammered out in bilateral agreements with the United States and other countries. The concern is that joining the TPP will be tantamount to renegotiating the terms of trade – and coming out with less favorable results than before.
The fact that Chile already has free trade agreements with all the other countries in the pact means it has no particularly strong incentive to sign on. Unlike countries such as Malaysia and Vietnam, whose access to investment and export markets are likely to increase substantially under the TPP, the agreement won’t bring major trade benefits to Chile. Meanwhile, the costs to the country – in terms of its own ability to create laws in the future and extensions of intellectual property protections – could be high.
As the negotiation process nears a close, congressional representatives in Chile have renewed their opposition.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Heraldo Muñoz made declarations about how far the Bachelet government was – and was not – willing to go. In response to deputies’ concerns, he declared that in the area of intellectual property, patents, and services, Chile would not accept any terms worse than those already negotiated in its existing free trade agreements. Specifically, in relation to patent protection for pharmaceuticals, he said that Chile would insist on the five years allowed for in existing treaties and not agree to the 12 years proposed for the TPP. “If there isn’t an agreement that’s acceptable, we won’t sign it,” he declared. Moreover, with regard to the US certification process, he affirmed, “we will not accept any interference in our sovereignty, and if that were the case, the agreement would not go into effect.”