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A Libertarian Take on the Trans-Pacific Partnership

Written By Geoffrey Pike

Posted January 20, 2014

The Trans-Pacific Partnership, also known as TPP, is a trade agreement that originally included just four countries – Chile, Brunei, New Zealand, and Singapore.

tppSince that time, there have been negotiations for expanding the membership among 8 different countries, plus a couple of others showing interest in joining. The negotiating countries include the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Australia, Peru, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Japan.

The TPP has similarities to other trade agreements that the U.S. has been involved in, such as NAFTA. Unfortunately, some people are misled to believe that these agreements are pro-liberty and pro free trade. It is interesting that the biggest opponents of these agreements often come from libertarians and the far left.

Just like most government laws and most international agreements, there are some parts worse than others. There may even be some positive aspects about it. Unfortunately, any positives that the TPP may offer are more than offset by the negatives.

The first clue is that the negotiations and proposals regarding the TPP have been largely secretive. What is it that these politicians don’t want the public finding out about?

There is a false impression that the TPP and other trade agreements promote free trade. But it is really just managed trade. It is possible that some aspects might improve trade conditions if a country already has strict regulations and high tariffs.

But we can be reasonably certain this isn’t a free trade agreement, just the same as others like NAFTA. Why do you even need an agreement for free trade?

The only reason that free trade wouldn’t exist is because government is preventing it. So if the government wants free trade, it just has to stay out of the way.

You don’t need for a government to pass a law saying that the tax rate will be 0%. It can simply repeal the taxes already in existence. So you also don’t need a government enacting an agreement for free trade. It simply just has to get rid of its regulations and tariffs, and free trade will be in existence.

There are other aspects of the TPP that may be worrisome. There are provisions relating to intellectual property rights. Ironically, some of these provisions are only known because of Wikileaks.

This is a subject that has much disagreement amongst libertarians and conservatives. Ironically, it has been some leftist U.S. politicians who have come out the strongest against the TPP and its provisions on intellectual property.

While the subject of intellectual property is a subject for another day, it looks as though some of the worst aspects of U.S. law would be inserted into the TPP, such as strict patenting laws for medicines.

Do you really think the U.S. government is trying to help the general public, along with the people in foreign countries? Or is it more likely that the U.S. government is trying to help big pharmaceutical companies (as one example), which have full-time lobbyists in Washington DC?

In conclusion, while it is possible there may be a few positive aspects of TPP, it will be mostly negative. This doesn’t represent free trade and it is not a liberty friendly agreement. It is a partnership between politicians. If it were such a great thing for the general public, then they wouldn’t be so secretive about it all.

The good news is that there is opposition from both sides of the political aisle. Some people may not be opposing it for all of the right reasons, but it is still opposition.