At a luxury hotel in Maui, representatives from the 12 countries participating in the highly controversial and secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal are negotiating behind closed doors. Thanks to a secret letter from a 2013 meeting, released today by WikiLeaks, we now have a clearer idea of what they’re discussing.
Unsurprisingly, based on what we know about the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, so far, the letter is mostly about limiting the power of government in favour of private commercial development.
The TPP is a massive free trade deal that is set to impact everything from the cost of medicine in Australia, to milk production in Canada, to internet governance the world over. The letter was drafted for a ministerial meeting of the TPP countries in early December, 2013, and seeks guidance on key topics relating to the negotiations. Namely, how state-owned enterprises (SOEs) should be treated under the trade deal.
According to the letter, “the majority of TPP countries” support obligations for these companies—which can include public utilities, telecommunication providers, mining companies, and state-run investment firms—that “go beyond existing obligations” laid out in existing free trade agreements and by the World Trade Organization.