Trans-Pacific Partnership Negotiations Highlight IP and Environmental Issues

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a trade agreement between the United States, Canada, Mexico, and nations on the Pacific Rim.  The  TPP will provide new market access and regulations, especially for small- and medium-sized businesses.  If ratified, the pact will govern about 40 percent of the world’s gross domestic product and one-third of world trade.  The trade agreement has been compared to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Negotiations are ongoing, but current drafts of the agreement have drawn mixed attention from intellectual property and environmental experts.  According to a report published by trade ministers participating in the negotiations, intellectual property has provided one of the most complex and challenging areas of debate in discussions so far.  Some parties hold fast to high levels of IP protection, while others emphasize access to ideas.  Participants are still working toward a common approach and have shared that fair use of online content in a digital environment is one of the most contentious areas of debate.

Additionally, the current draft of the environmental chapter of this agreement has drawn unwelcome criticism.  Leading green groups such as the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council and WWF claim that the current draft actually rolls back on progress made in past free trade pacts.  Among other issues, they mainly voiced concern that the pact currently lacks basic environmental provisions.  The White House responded that they are working toward a robust, fully enforceable environment chapter.