Higher costs for needed generic drugs. Longer copyright protections than the global standard. Foreign investors empowered to overrule governments. A more tightly-regulated Internet.
Those are just some of the potential pitfalls from any deal that could emerge from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the 12-country free-trade and investment pact shrouded in secrecy as negotiations head into the final stage in Hawaii next week.
A handful of draft chapters of the TPP, leaked via Wikileaks, have highlighted the proposed treaty’s heavy emphasis on expanding protections for corporate rights and assets like intellectual property — patents, copyrights and databases — that are far more valuable to advanced economy corporations than traditional cargo trade.
For critics, the proposals show a deal moving more toward protection than free trade, one more about corporate benefits than boosting economies and development.