Leaked Documents Show Tough Road To Completion Of TPP

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The far-reaching Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement may be even more ambitious than previously thought. A newly leaked alleged recent memorandum and chart giving a rare view of country positions from inside the closed negotiating room showed the 12 countries were far apart on many issues, especially intellectual property rights, heading into this week’s talks in Singapore. And they suggest the United States is facing pushback to its vigorous efforts to get those differences resolved quickly. [Update: Early reports from Singapore today say these documents notwithstanding, agreement may have been reached on the intellectual property chapter]

“With TPP talks shrouded in intense secrecy, the leaks provide the clearest view into the range of sensitive ‘behind the borders’ issues that have spurred growing public opposition to the sweeping agreement in some participating countries,” Public Citizen said in a release. “The documents also reveal U.S. negotiators pushing an agenda in line with American corporate interests on a range of issues, including expansive intellectual property rights, limits on financial regulation and expansive new investor rights to demand compensation from government over policies they claim undermine expected profits.”

The leaked memo [pdf] and chart [pdf], which appear to be notes from a government inside the talks, were published on 9 December on Wikileaks and the Huffington Post.

Wikileaks posted a recent copy of the entire IP chapter in November (IPW, Bilateral/Regional Negotiations, 13 November 2013).

The US Trade Representative’s office told the Huffington Post that the documents were not from the US and were outdated and contained errors. The Huffington Post said the leak shows the Obama administration has almost no support for its expansive positions and is facing a backlash.

The memo says there were “serious doubts” about the IP chapter heading into Singapore, and that the recent US attempt to revive a provision on transparency and medicines was an “annoyance” for some countries that had previously rejected it. The chart shows the US alone in supporting a number of IP provisions.

Wikileaks said: “One document describes deep divisions between the United States and other nations, and “great pressure” being exerted by the US negotiators to move other nations to their position. The other document lists, country-by-country, the many areas of disagreement remaining. It covers intellectual property and thirteen other chapters of the draft agreement. This suggests that the TPP negotiations can only be concluded if the Asia-Pacific countries back down on key national interest issues, otherwise the treaty will fail altogether.”

The memo suggests that US pressure on governments would be intense this week to come to agreement.

Meanwhile, at a conference on innovation, IP and the public interest in Cape Town, South Africa this week, access to knowledge and medicines advocates are discussing concerns about the TPP.

And 29 organisations and more than 70 individuals have signed a letter opposing copyright terms of life plus seventy years in the TPP, Knowledge Ecology International announced on 9 December. A version of the letter was sent to all lead IP negotiators and all chief negotiators in the TPP on 6 December, in advance of the TPP ministerial in Singapore this week.

The letter is published here.

Separately, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation issued a paper [pdf] it titled, Concluding a High Standard, Innovation-Maximizing TPP Agreement, in which argued in favour of the TPP.

“A substandard TPP is far worse than no agreement at all, as it could harm American competitiveness and innovation for decades to come,” Michelle Wein, research analyst with ITIF and co-author of the report, said in a press release. “The TPP can be a model trade agreement that maximizes innovation and promotes economic growth for all member countries, but to do so it must protect intellectual property, eliminate non-tariff barriers to trade, and ensure the free flow of information across borders.”

William New may be reached at wnew@ip-watch.ch.

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  1. […] Early reports say agreement has been tentatively reached on the intellectual property chapter. The ministers’ press release highlights the identification of “landing zones” for outstanding issues, which came from a United States proposal for a way to finalise negotiations on intellectual property, according to a recent internal memo leaked this week (IPW, Bilateral/Regional Negotiations, 10 December 2013). […]

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