Monday, October 5, 2015

Look who we're dealing with in the TPP

So the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal has been initialled. I'm not prepared to discuss the merits of the agreement. But let's consider the countries that are in it, besides Canada: Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam and Japan - as well as the US.

Australia, Chile, New Zealand and Japan have fairly comparable human rights records and are well established democracies. 

Peru can rightly be called a democracy, but it has faced an insurgency from Maoists for as long as I can remember. Its human rights record - not the best, although better than many in this grouping.

Mexico has its huge drug problem. When just one city – Juarez – has 17,000 murders in just one year, but the neighboring city of El Paso has just three, you know there’s a crisis. Mexico too is a democracy, but still a fragile one.

Brunei and Vietnam have appalling human rights records. Especially on the rights of LGBTs.

Singapore doesn’t allow its press to criticize its foreign policy – only those of other countries. Districts are gerrymandered to ensure the ruling party always wins, although last time they got “just” 65% of seats, compared to the usual 80 to 90. Plus, in what other country is it illegal to chew gum without a license? Seriously.

Malaysia has a somewhat better human rights record, but far from a sparkling one. Elections there tend to be rather suspect.

Gone is the concept of linkage - you get freer trade if you expand rights. I find that unacceptable.

I say no to this arrangement. With the top four countries, yes. Mexico and the US that's a done deal anyway. The others ... clean up your acts as well as your domestic security issues, then we can talk.
 

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