TPP Presentation - transparency

POSTED BY Rick Shera
14 June 2012

posted in l@w.geek.nz | TPPA | Intellectual Property | Copyright | Presentations

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I spoke about the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement at the monthly meeting of New Zealand Information Security Forum this morning, with a particular emphasis on the IP and investor-state chapters.
One of the participants took me to task for focusing solely on those chapters and the potentially negative impact of the US negotiating position. I'm a lawyer, so I like nothing better than robust debate and I welcome that always.  But what I think we all ended up agreeing is that if we are to be able to assess the positives against these perceived negatives, then at some stage, well in advance of any agreement being finalised, we need to see the text.
We've seen leaks of the US proposed IP chapter and, today, the latest investor-state text, but we've seen little or nothing of the rest of it, so the posited benefits of better trade access etc are completely opaque to us.
We are told that text is to stretch to 1,000 pages or so. That says two things to me:
  1. This is not a treaty which merely sets high level principles and parameters that countries are relatively free to implement in their own way. 1,000 pages suggests a far greater degree of specificity as to what signatories will need to do to implement this into their own laws. It is reaching further behind National borders than such treaties have before.
  2. A document of this length will be extremely complex. With complexity comes the potential for mistakes to creep in, things to be overlooked and consequences not properly understood.
Both of these factors only increase the need in my view to see the text at an early stage. A large and complex agreement will benefit from as many inputs as possible and our officials need support and feedback from all sectors who are impacted. But, the devil is in the detail, so we cannot properly provide that support and feedback without seeing it. By the time it gets to Select Committee, it will be too late.

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