TPP Heads Into Ratification Game06/10/2015 by Monika Ermert for Intellectual Property Watch Leave a CommentShare this Story:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)IP-Watch is a non-profit independent news service and depends on subscriptions. To access all of our content, please subscribe now. You may also offer additional support with your subscription, or donate.Reactions to yesterday’s announcement that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is in the books quickly turned to “what’s next?” with European Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem sending congratulations and expressing expectations that “with TPP done, we will be able to approach our TTIP [Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership] negotiations with an even greater focus from both sides.” But considerable work remains for TPP to come into effect. Given the level of opposition in some countries, the TPP ratification ahead could still be tricky, experts confirmed. In the US, the data exclusivity compromise is unwelcome to Republicans. Republican Senator Orrin Hatch, according to Reuters, said the TPP appeared “to fall woefully short.” Democratic senators reiterated their opposition to the extension of IP protection and the associated decrease in access to life-saving medicine.The final TPP text is still to be prepared after the last day negotiation frenzy (and then also still has to be signed). US Trade Representative Michael Froman said the text would be put out for the public for 60 days and Congress gets 90 days to decide on the deal. “This will bring us into 2016,” Froman said with regard to the timeline. What is unclear so far is, when and in what form the text will be published, given earlier statements about strict confidentiality.Secrecy Resulting in Opposition at Country Level?The extreme secrecy of the negotiations so far has resulted in several legal complaints in different countries. In Japan in May, a group around former Agriculture Minister Masahiko Yamada filed a constitutional complaint against the trade negotiation because not even members of the Parliament had access to the documents.Another court case over secrecy is pending in New Zealand. In Australia, opposition has been building especially due to the fact that the controversial investor-state dispute settlement is part of the TPP.“Only after the Treaty has been made public should the Australian people and their elected representatives decide if the trade-offs are worth signing this otherwise secret backroom deal,” announced the Australian Pirate Party in a quick press release after yesterday’s announcement.Trouble could also be ahead for Chile’s negotiators. While the ratification process is very much “presidential,” explains Pablo Viollier, public policy analyst at the nongovernmental Derechos Digitales. Congress can only approve or reject, but the approval of the TPP could be controversial, he said, due to the sensitivity of access to medicines.Presidents and SultansAlas, there are also some countries that could see an easier ratification. Alejandro Pisanty from the Mexican Chapter of the Internet Society said that the Executive branch has learned a lot from the debacle over ACTA, the controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. “They were careful to have the Senate who will decide in the loop,” Pisanty said.“The opposition to TPP has had far less chances. The opposition to ACTA [Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement] seized an opportunity with social media which was a surprise at the time and now is not so. Also the conditions of confidentiality were better managed by the government this time,” he said. “There were consultations with different sectors all along. The confidentiality conditions were helpful for industry and adverse for civil society organisations.”In Singapore, the ratification process is done by Parliament as will be the transposition into legislation, according to Prof Michael Ewing-Chow, WTO Chair, Faculty of Law, National University of Singapore. But due to the fact that the PPA-led government just won a significant victory and makes up 90 percent of the seats in Parliament, ratification would be no problem, he said. Plus, most Singaporeans are clearly in favour of FTAs “because the lifeblood of Singapore is trade.”Malaysia, while having a similar system, is currently seeing considerable protests over allegations of corruption that could create a hiccup for the TPP, too.A potential net winner from the deal, according to experts, Vietnam could see easy ratification, on the other hand.And the easiest transposition into national law could happen in Brunei: the Sultan is the main source of legislation and if he signs the TPP into law it is just done.Concerns about being on the Losing SideDespite the time still necessary to get the TPP practically in effect – and not even considering the time needed to make legislative adjustments in the 12 member states – in other big regions reactions include concern about being pushed to the side.From the European Parliament liberal MEP Marietje Schaake in a press release expressed such concerns: “The conclusion of TPP should also remind Europeans that we will either be driving rules and standards for global trade, or other countries will set their own standards. The EU is also in negotiation with important economies like Japan on a free trade agreement. The space for negotiation will inevitably be influenced by what Japan agreed in TPP.”With regard to China, that has been said by many experts to be the one hidden target of the TPP. Malaysia’s trade minister said during yesterday’s press conference in Atlanta: “The TPP is open to all Asian-Pacific countries. China can be part of it.” He also underlined that the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, the big regional FTA currently being negotiated between 15 Asian countries including China and seven of the TPP parties, is “not conflicting with the TPP. These are complementary arrangements,” he said.China’s reaction was cautious. According to ABC news service, a spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of Commerce said: “China hopes the TPP will mutually promote other regional free trade arrangements and will make a contribution to the development of trade and investment in the Asia Pacific.” Image Credits: ICCShare this Story:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)RelatedMonika Ermert may be reached at email@example.com."TPP Heads Into Ratification Game" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.