TPP, TTIP don’t seem to be coming around after all – here’s why

Posted on Jun 16, 2016 by Rick Falkvinge
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The two protectionist agreements masquerading as free trade agreements, TPP and TTIP, appear to be meeting serious resistance – TTIP in particular. This makes the entire coup attempt unlikely to succeed.

As detailed in the book Information Feudalism: Who owns the Knowledge Economy?, the United States reacted to its industrial obsolescence – as accented primarily by the ascent of Toyota and the fall in Detroit of the late 1970s – by hijacking a number of global fora and attempting to push through so-called Free Trade Agreements that were little more than attempts to redefine value, production, and economy in a way that forced the rest of the world to pay rent to the United States, in order to safeguard its dominant position going forward.

(The committee recommending this was the Advisory Committee on Trade Negotiations, the ACTN, which was headed by Edmund Pratt Jr – the then-CEO of Pfizer – and which reported directly to the office of the President of the United States. The ACTN first tried to get such an agreement through the United Nations, which basically kicked them out on the street. Instead, it was the GATT – the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade – that was hijacked and transformed into WTO, an organization hawkwatching the so-called TRIPs agreement.)

Ever since, the US has tried continuing this policy in an increasing ratcheting up of unilateral benefits.

The most recent attempt was something called ACTA, deceptively called the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, but which was a blatant attempt to give benefits to U.S. corporations at the expense of everybody else’s business and liberty. The mistake the US negotiators did in that attempt was to try to make it one global agreement covering every economy but China, in a very thinly veiled attempt to make someone in particular fall in line.

However, that required all the world’s major economies to sign up for it. If anyone didn’t, the entire effort would fail. And it turns out Europe – the world’s largest economy – mounted a particular resistance to the idea. If the world’s largest economy didn’t agree to the treaty, it was dead in the water.

On July 4, 2012, the European Parliament refused its consent to the ACTA treaty, effectively declaring its independence from American special interests. ACTA was dead. Not just in Europe, but globally.

Of course, those special interests didn’t take kindly to Europe’s refusal to fall in line, and immediately went at it again. The next round, Europe wouldn’t even be given the chance to kill a treaty globally, and the US trade negotiators assured this by negotiating a separate treaty with Europe.

Thus, the TPP – the Trans-Pacific “Partnership” – was ACTA reborn for everybody but Europe, and the TTIP – the Transatlantic Treaty of Immense Poppycock – was invented as a treaty between the US and Europe, something that Europe could refuse without crashing the “treaty” for everybody else, like happened on July 4, 2012.

So far, the TPP appears to be going on rails, just like ACTA was.

But the Europe-facing TTIP is facing serious question marks.

And even though the TPP can theoretically live its own life, it’s really intended to be used together with TTIP. Just like ACTA was intended to be pretty much a global treaty… well, or at least a global economic bullying of China.

From the UK, we hear politicans making careful statements that the TTIP “may need another year or two”. This is bureaucratspeak for the agreement being very much not in agreement at all.

From Germany, we hear the very strong statement from the Minister of Agriculture, Christian Schmidt, that access to sell German cars on the US market isn’t worth the price of giving up the ability to ban harmful chemicals in food. That’s an extremely strong statement, especially from the a German minister: if Germany is not fully on board, then no one in Europe is on board.

Many other politicians in Europe are echoing similar sentiments. You hear them a little here and a little there, indicating that this so-called “treaty” looks so far off it’s quite probably going to miss its window of being possible. In particular, you hear opposition to something called ISDS, which basically means that corporations take precedence over parliaments when it comes to making law.

Because when you looked at ACTA, all the politicians were initially in agreement that it was a jolly good idea. It took coordinated synchronized protests in 200 European cities, something that had never even happened before, to get the politicians’ attention. And they have not forgotten.

In other words, if the politicians should falter, there will be a ton of activist protests. And nobody really wants that. So the politicians are trying to not get into a position where those protests appear, and hence, it looks like “the negotiations make take another year”.

It goes without saying that these treaties are extremely hostile to the Internet, privacy, and liberty, as those particular modes of communication bypass the legacy industries.

With or without foul play like this, your privacy remains your own responsibility. And should the politicians start thinking that this is a good idea after all, it’s time to take to the streets and flood legislatures with concerns, once again.

About Rick Falkvinge

Rick is Head of Privacy at Private Internet Access. He is also the founder of the first Pirate Party and is a political evangelist, traveling around Europe and the world to talk and write about ideas of a sensible information policy. Additionally, he has a tech entrepreneur background and loves good whisky and fast motorcycles.

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