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Trans Pacific Pillaging: the investments chapter

By Jonathan J. Ariel - posted Thursday, 9 April 2015

Assuming the long-standing long-winded discussions for the Trans Pacific Partnership is a bus, based on what we know, surely it's time Australian negotiators rang the bell and got off.

From an Australian consumer's point of view, the secrecy surrounding the negotiations of the TPP project is more than a touch fetid. With both Coalition and Labor politicians remaining silent on the matter, it's been left to Wikileaks to fill the chasm, pierce the veil of the negotiations and share the umbrage with Joe Public. The releases to date include: TPP Intellectual Property Chapter, an overview of the TPP Agreement, TPP Environment Chapter Consolidated Text and the TPP Environment Chapter Working Group Chairs' Report.

They make for dispiriting reading.


Separate to the secrecy, equally offensive is the exclusion of our largest trading partner and the world's second largest economy, China from the scandalously misnamed "partnership".

And the absence of key emerging economies: Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa that with China make up the so-called BRICS must be to some nation's (or nations') advantage, because it sure isn't in Australia's interest.

While Beijing has long complained that Washington opposes its membership, to be fair, it should be remembered that China's initial exclusion was not a result of American design to "contain" the Middle Kingdom. The fact is that back in 2002, when the TPP balloon was first floated by Singapore, New Zealand and Chile, it had nothing to do with China. That idea then grew to include some others, initially Brunei, then Peru and Australia. It now includes a dozen countries. America's involvement dates from 2008, in the last months of Bush 43.

That said, since president Obama moved into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, many of the TPP's provisions started to acquire a distinctly American flavour. Take textiles for instance. TPP provisions such as mandating that yarn used in the manufacturing of clothing (in TPP member nations) comes only from TPP member nations, explicitly excludes the "world's factory", China.

In case anyone missed the news, "O" is championing the lopsided so-called "Partnership".

We shouldn't be surprised "O" is on the wrong side of history. Heck, this is the same guy who championed the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and only last week, championed Iran's mullahs in their determination to get the bomb. And the very same guy who arm-twisted Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott not to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, China's answer to the International Monetary Fund.


Arm-twisted and lost that is.

But Abbott need not worry. He is in fine company. "O's" pleas not to join the bank were spectacularly rebuffed by nearly every single US ally. It was a colossal loss of face for "O".

Apart from "O", only Japan is sitting at the Lilliput anti-China table.

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About the Author

Jonathan J. Ariel is an economist and financial analyst. He holds a MBA from the Australian Graduate School of Management. He can be contacted at

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