TPP draft: United States reasserts its role as a world’s schoolyard bully
On Wednesday, a document leaked from an ongoing trade negotiation was published by WikiLeaks. It concerns the monopolies and exclusive rights we know as copyrights, patents, trademarks, and so on. While the contents of the proposed trade agreement are certainly interesting, not to say very alarming, it's even more interesting to see how the United States keeps asserting its industry interests over the world under the false flag of “free trade.”
This process started with Japanese cars in the 1970s. As people in the United States started shunning Detroit's cars in favor of Toyota, policymakers in the US realized that the country's age of industrial competitiveness had effectively come to an end, and sought new ways to keep the United States at the top of the food chain, competitive or not. The result was as audacious, daring, and provocative as it was successful: redefine "value,” "industry,” and "production" in a series of lopsided interstate contracts masqueraded as "free trade" deals that would make sure the United States kept being paid by the rest of the world.
The first of these "free trade" deals - more accurately described as Industrial Protectionism (IP) - was the agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), which stands at the heart of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Its champion had been then-CEO of Pfizer, Edmund Pratt, who wanted to prohibit people in the third world from using their own raw materials and pharmaceutical knowledge in their own laboratories and plants to cure and treat their own people's diseases. He wanted to force them to buy from Pfizer or die trying. Millions died as a result of the success of the TRIPS "free trade" agreement and the WTO.
There is no word for this type of behavior short of "evil.”
As the TRIPS agreement on Industrial Protectionism (IP) was being negotiated, every industry interest in the United States chimed in and wanted their piece of the pie. Hollywood's movie industry, the record industry, everybody. This new leaked trade agreement - that has absolutely nothing to do with free trade, but with the upholding of exclusive rights and monopolies that limit free trade - builds on the previous TRIPS agreement; it harshens it and deepens it. It is named TPP, the "Trans-Pacific Partnership.”
The divide between the United States and other countries on the unfairness of the aggressively pushed "United States uber alles" agenda is very clear. It's almost enough to read the introduction, where the vast majority of participating countries have proposed this language, to safeguard our common cultural and scientific legacy:
"The objectives of this chapter are... to maintain a balance between the rights of intellectual property holders and the legitimate interests of users and the community in subject matter protected by intellectual property; protect the ability of Parties to identify, promote access to and preserve the public domain; ensure that measures and procedures to enforce intellectual property rights do not themselves become barriers to legitimate trade."
The United States blanketly opposes all of it. There shall be no balance, there shall be no promotion of monopoly-less trade (which, ironically, is anybody's normal definition of free trade). There shall only be exclusive rights, which are typically held by the United States.
Also, the legal language is deliberately convoluted - the United States wants to give Hollywood the right to shut people off from the internet (and therefore most of their citizens' rights) without due process, but this is hidden deep down in legal jumbo. How many would recognize the terms "injunctive relief" or "liability conditions" as depriving citizens of their freedoms of speech, press, and assembly? I fear many people would be shocked once they realized what the legal language means - but at that point, it will be much harder to stop this idiocy.
This agreement is not about free trade. Copyright and patent monopolies, by definition, are the opposite of free trade; they are exclusive rights preventing free trade. This agreement is about asserting trade monopolies held by the United States and forcing everybody else to pay protection money or go to jail for disrespecting the powers that be.
This is not free trade. This is racketeering. And it is disgusting.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.