Chilean Officials Question Benefits of Trans Pacific Partnership
Various Chilean trade officials, past and present, have voiced their doubts over Chile’s need to form part of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), at a public seminar held in the Universidad Católica last week on information justice and intellectual property under the new agreement.
SANTIAGO –Debate arose from the fact that Chile already has market access agreements with the nine countries participating in the negotiations, meaning that trade benefits of joining the Trans Pacific Partnership would be minimal, particularly if additional demands were to be made by the US on intellectual property.
Senator Ricardo Lagos Weber in particular voiced his concerns over whether joining the TPP would incur more costs than benefits for Chile, asking the floor “What are we really going to get out of this?”, a question later echoed by Alvaro Dias, a representative from CEPAL (Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean) and Ana Novik, the official from the Ministry of Foreign Relations overseeing the TPP talks.
According to Lagos and Dias, the only real benefit to come of the TPP would be opening markets to China and India, since Chile already had access to the US market. However they were skeptical over China agreeing to the partnership without serious discussion over the clause on intellectual property (IP).
In fact, it is the IP side of the TPP negotiation which has caused a stir in Chile for being reminiscent of the controversial SOPA bill, which effectively
promoted internet censorship as a by-product of stopping internet piracy. So wide-spread was the opposition to SOPA, a number of websites, including wikipedia, went on a 24-hour blackout. These fears have sparked an online campaign response from Chilean company ONG Derechos Digitales, encouraging Chileans to protest again the SOPA-style censorship the TPP could bring about.
Novik too was clear that Chile would not sign any agreement without first reviewing the IP clause. She stated that civil societies together with senators were meeting to “make improvements” to the clause to counter the “aggressive proposals” from the US.
She also expressed her hope that Chile’s relatively strong economic position would carry some weight in arguing over the terms in the TPP agreement.
Yet not all countries are as disillusioned with the idea of TPP as Chile seems to be. The Canadian Prime Minister is currently on an official visit to Chile as part of an attempt to join negotiations, which have now gone through their eleventh round. All the countries currently negotiating the TPP have to individually approve of the addition of Canada before it can become the 10th country in the agreement, and as such the Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is set to visit the remaining 8 countries to promote the negotiations.
The other countries in the TPP, aside from the US and Chile, are Peru, Australia, New Zealand, China, Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam and Singapore.
The next round of negotiations is due to take place in Dallas, US, between the 8th and the 18th of May.
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