What is the TPP and who is involved?

The Trans-Pacific Partnership – often referred to as the TPP – is a proposed international trade agreement being negotiated by 12 countries: Canada, the United States, Mexico, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Chile, Peru and Brunei.

Canada already has free trade agreements with the U.S., Mexico, Chile and Peru, as well as several other countries not involved in TPP negotiations. Due to the scope of the agreement and the number of countries involved, the TPP is often referred to as “massive,” and is being called one of the biggest trade deals in history.

According to the U.S. government, the TPP will “eliminate tariffs and other barriers” to trade and “facilitate the development of production and supply chains” among member countries.

TPP 300 billion

What are the specifics?

The public isn’t allowed to know what is specified in the full text of the TPP, which means that public knowledge of the agreement is limited – and according to one poll, most Canadians aren’t even aware the agreement exists, despite the fact that one of the many rounds of negotiations was held in Canada during an unpublicized Ottawa meeting from July 3 to 12, 2014.

The secrecy surrounding the details of the agreement has caused some groups to sound alarm bells, declaring the agreement to be against the public’s best interest while being lucrative to large, multi-national corporations.

Since 2013, WikiLeaks has leaked three chapters of the 29-chapter document, and say they will give $100,000 to anyone who leaks the entire agreement.

Some Canadian critics, like University of Ottawa law professor Michael Geist, also say Canadians should be wary of the TPP.

Canada car plant

How does the TPP affect Canadians?

Geist says copyright law is one of the topics covered under the document, and reports are that Canada has agreed to follow along with the U.S.’s insistence on ever-increasing extensions of when intellectual property enters the public domain.

Currently, Canadian law says copyright for a work expires 50 years after the death of its creator. The agreement will apparently extend copyright to 70 years after death, effectively creating a new 20-year vacuum for Canadian public domain works.

The agreement would also affect Canada’s supply-managed industries. The prices of milk, cheese, eggs and poultry are regulated in Canada by carefully controlling the amount of each that is allowed to be produced domestically and placing high tariffs on imports (though some say this ends up hurting consumers).

Dairy Farmers of Canada, L’Union des Producteurs Agricoles and other groups have expressed concern over the effects the TPP will have on their industry, and have started voicing their support for protecting their industry.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Canada would defend the supply management system in its pursuit of the trade deal.