The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and associated trade agreements took a step closer to becoming a reality last week, as a bill was introduced to the U.S. Senate that establishes negotiating objectives for the President.
As previously reported, talks between national representatives have been ongoing for some time, as negotiators lay the foundations for one of the most significant trade pacts of our time, covering everything from regulatory and currency practices to intellectual property rights.
It is the latter, of course, that much of our coverage has focused on, and which also has been an important talking point across media reports concerning the TPP.
A statement from Copyright Alliance CEO Sandra Aistars underlines this importance, expressing support for the approach adopted by senators in this legislation. Aistars explains:
“To meaningfully take advantage of the expanding opportunities presented by both technology and trade, creators rely on strong enforcement of copyright protections consistent with U.S. law.”
In the wider sense, expansive trade agreements have long held benefits for U.S. business, despite attempts to derail them at the time of negotiation.
1994’s North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), for example, was criticized for its potential to see trade value leak from the country and cause an expected decline in key industries. Today it is credited with boosting the trade of U.S. goods and services with Mexico and Canada considerably, rising from $337 billion in 1993 to $1.2 trillion in 2011.
Despite opposition attempts to portray the negotiations as cloak and dagger, the Transpacific talks have been conducted no differently than any other major trade deal; the talking points, which are evisently public, are set up to frame the talks, after which details are thrashed out in private, as it should be, until the participants have the basis for an agreement that they can take back and present to their national authorities.
In the U.S. that means any potential agreement passing through a rigorous and robust legislative process, which from recent experience we all know to be a stern test of bipartisan support. If any proposal that emerges can win such support from both sides of the aisle, it would seem fair to suggest that its potential to boost the American economy is suitably convincing. We elect our officials to do this job and should trust their judgment when it comes to international trade just as we must in almost every other legislative matter.
If these negotiations – and resulting agreements – can strengthen international copyright protections and boosts long term trade at the same time, U.S. creators will be all the better for it.