The Trans-Pacific Partnership: The Future of Global Trade or a Corporate Conspiracy against Workers?

Kevin E. Noonan

©2016. Published in Landslide, Vol. 8, No. 6, July/August 2016, by the American Bar Association. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved. This information or any portion thereof may not be copied or disseminated in any form or by any means or stored in an electronic database or retrieval system without the express written consent of the American Bar Association or the copyright holder.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is the latest in a series of multination international agreements aimed at reducing trade barriers and promoting global free trade. Most of these agreements are “regional,” like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between the United States, Canada, and Mexico, but others have global scope (e.g., the GATT/TRIPS agreements that created the World Trade Organization (WTO)). The TPP’s goals are lofty, to “promote economic growth; support the creation and retention of jobs; enhance innovation, productivity and competitiveness; raise living standards; reduce poverty in our countries; and promote transparency, good governance, and enhanced labor and environmental protections” according to the U.S. Trade Representative.1 However, the subject matter scope of this agreement and the secrecy with which it was negotiated have engendered deep suspicions from a variety of groups regarding whether its goal is truly free trade or whether there are more nefarious motivations behind it.

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