Sourcing Innovation first brought this up back in late 2013 when it pointed out this great post by Nathan Lee that provided a simple guide to the Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Agreement “benefits” which is an agreement being negotiated in secret that is lopsided towards the corporation and essentially gives them more rights then individuals, communities, and in some cases, entire governments. Proposals even include giving corporations the right to sue governments if laws put citizens or the environment above corporate rights. The piracy laws are so draconian that you can be criminally charged if copyrighted material ends up on your computer without your knowledge or consent. (For example, if you visit a website that was hacked and malware on that site uses your computer as part of a bittorrent network without your consent and stores part of a copyrighted file, the owner, with the backing of the RIAA or MPA, can have you charged criminally even if you didn’t ever access the file — not the hacker that created the malware and forced copyrighted content onto your computer without your knowledge or consent).
For those of you who do not yet know what this is, it’s a proposed regional and investment treaty between twelve countries: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam that is being conducted almost entirely in secret despite the far reaching implications that are being discussed and the considerable impact it could have on every citizen of every country participating as it covers a broad range of issues including, but not limited to, agriculture, industrial goods, intellectual property, investments, labour, services, and telecommunications.
As a result, everyone, and every supply chain, has a reason to dread, if not fear, this act. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has a good summary of the issues corresponding to intellectual property on their What Is TPP page as the act would rewrite global rules on intellectual property enforcement. The IATP does a good job of overviewing some of the agricultural issues in its article Whose Century is it? where it notes that nearly every country involved has food safety regulations on the chopping block as the TPP proponents are arguing that free-trade and cheap food is the best thing for a country, regardless of economic or health consequences. Every year there is a new salmonella, e-Coli, mad-cow, or similar outbreak of a deadly food-borne infection — do we really want to weaken safety standards? With respect to labour, while some US negotiators are apparently demanding meaningful and enforceable worker protections, many of the other countries are not and, more importantly, most of the developed countries are claiming that increased worker mobility will encourage a disruptive inflow of low-skill workers from developing countries and pushing for less worker mobility in our globally connected world (while the less developed countries want to level the playing field).
Regardless of what gets agreed to, the sheer fact that this trade agreement will override existing law presents every Procurement organization with a minefield just waiting to be activated. Will your supplier still be able to afford its current pricing? Will it even be able to supply you? Will you be able to expect the same quality and safety standards? Will new sources suddenly become available? How will they change the supply-demand balance? Will new tariffs materialize? Will you be forced to abandon your “Buy American” policy? Will you be forced to consider suppliers you don’t want to? All of these questions and dozens of others become valid the minute this act, negotiated in secret where it is pumped full of poison pills, gets signed into law.
If the (wiki)leaks are even remotely reflective of what’s in the act, it might make the controversial, scary Orwellian provisions of the Patriot Act look like a cuddly bunny in comparison!