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US Announces Withdrawal from TPP (nikkei.com)
282 points by jaboutboul on Jan 22, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 228 comments

TPP was a communications and messaging failure on parts of governments. Other than being a sprawling agreement touching on multiple unrelated topics largely developed in secret, the US government in particular did little to convincingly persuade the populace about TPP's advantages. The anti-globalization folks predictably seized on those aspects while a different debate about the expansion of copyrights (i.e. the harmonization of copyright protections with those of the US) was raging in the tech sphere.

A gulf began to widen between the administration and those opposing TPP, and quality independent analysis was much more difficult to come by than fearmongering. A few corporations spoke out in favor of TPP [1], but given their vested interest, they made a poor case of swaying average people. Meanwhile, even mainstream news coverage of TPP tended negative. Hillary Clinton notably had modify her messaging on TPP [2] to be seen as a viable candidate, despite endorsing it before.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11893512#11894446 [2] http://www.snopes.com/hillary-clinton-called-trans-pacific-p...

I'm ok with trade deals. I'm not ok with private companies suing sovereign nations for compensation. [0]

I'm not ok with secret tribunals that make those decisions. [1]

I'm not ok with governments not making provisions for the workers that lost their jobs because Vietnamese shrimp flooded their country's market. [2]

[0] https://www.google.ca/amp/s/www.washingtonpost.com/amphtml/o...

[1] http://billmoyers.com/story/shadow-courts-secret-tribunals-t...

[2] https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-10-08/more-shoe...

Many are upset about proposed dispute resolution regime ('suing'), but is it much different from how WTO works? AFAIK in WTO countries sue other countries on behalf of their corporations [0]. BTW, your first citation is an opinion piece by Elizabeth Warren who is far from impartial in this debate.

[0] https://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/dispu_e/dispu_by_countr...

Possibly not that different, but I (and I think a lot of other people) aren't very happy with those rules either. And TPP undeniably expands the scope / makes it more likely these kind of judgements would be made.

The WTO would function as the court of appeal for decisions made under the TPP's ISDS provisions. It would also be the body permitting sanctions (i.e. a return to pre-TPP tariff levels on trade with the offending country) in the event of non-cooperation.

In what sense is a ISDS a "secret" court? Their decision are published, right? (Your link [1] complains that "Could she protest on the courthouse steps? Arrange for a rally in a nearby town?", but the US supreme court also doesn't allow for protests on the courthouse steps, it doesn't seem like a crucial distinction.)

The difference being the Supreme Court is one of the most vital cornerstones of our democracy; the ISDS was an idea thought up by companies for their own advantage.

Pretty sure it was thought up by unstable countries to generate investment interests.

0. What if the nation discriminates against that company, freezing funds or denying access to courts? This shit is important for increasing investor confidence in countries with nascent court systems and political systems used to corruption and nepotism.

1. Any decision that you think has resolved unfairly?

2. Agreed, but redistribution and retraining are domestic issues such as NAFTA-TAA.

> This shit is important for increasing investor confidence in countries with nascent court systems and political systems used to corruption and nepotism.

Isn't it up to a country to make itself attractive to investors, i.e. by not pulling all that shit?

Every country's leader will tell foreign investors that there is no chance that their business will be regulated differently than their nephew's competing in the same space. Investors can trust them a lot more if the country's continued enjoyment of increased foreign demand for their exports lies in the balance.

"Isn't it up to a country to make itself attractive to investors, i.e. by not pulling all that shit?"

Yes, but it would defeat the purpose of a trade agreement.

Moreover, if country ABC signs the agreement, indicating 'they won'd do this BS' - and then they actually do do it - then they get access to other markets while cheating.

The agreement is supposed to prevent countries from cheating.

It has a side effect of preventing governments from doing things they ought to do - for example, punishing international companies from polluting etc..

It's a tricky problem.

There should be clauses that allow governments to make laws to stop companies from polluting etc.

0: When my nation decides to reduce smoking in the population by significantly increasing the taxes on cigarettes, companies in other countries that want to sell cigarettes here can go get stuffed.

Why should a foreign company decide what is and isn't legal in my country? Why should a democratic country, whose government is beholden to the people, have to kneel before a corporation, beholden to foreign wealth? Why does a corporation have rights that override the democratically-determined laws of a foreign country?

Not to mention your spin doctoring - 'investor confidence' is the good guys, and 'court systems and political systems' are just corruption and nepotism (because as we know, corps don't have either of those in abundance...)

>When my nation decides to reduce smoking in the population by significantly increasing the taxes on cigarettes, companies in other countries that want to sell cigarettes here can go get stuffed.

Cool. You and the TPP are in agreement then.

>Why should a foreign company decide what is and isn't legal in my country?

It shouldn't, beyond the general representation it's due. I'm not sure where you're getting this idea that corporations would have carte blanche to dictate laws from. Certainly not from reading the actual agreement.

What is covered by the mechanism is pretty simple. You can't regulate foreign owned companies differently from domestic ones. You can't appropriate funds or capital or freeze accounts without due process. You can't deny access to local courts.

And that's about it. What's more, your suit can be thrown out if there is a public health, art, indigenous culture or a number of other concerns (this is dependent on country). Tobacco companies are banned wholesale.

Yes, tobacco is explicitly excluded because it was foreseen what would happen if they weren't. People went to the mat to exclude it specifically. Why would tobacco companies have to be specifically excluded if the TPP didn't offer a mechanism for such abuse? What prevents other industries from using those mechanisms?

You are indeed correct in that I haven't read the 2700-page document. And to be frank, I highly doubt your own claims that you read it twice. I also doubt the characterisation of this extraordinarily lengthy document argued between multiple countries for the better part of a decade as "pretty simple".

95% of the bulk of the document is endless tariff elimination tables. I hope you'll forgive me that I glossed over them. If you're concerned about the ISDS mechanism the relevant parts are in Chapter 9, with some exceptions listed in Chapter 29.

Regarding the tobacco exclusions, it seems punitive to me, they were definitely being bad actors under previous ISDS mechanisms. You're right, though, the public health interest carveouts in the TPP's ISDS implementation (based on a recent Canadian BIT) would provide sufficient tools to allow unfettered regulation without needing to ban them wholesale. These carveouts were not present in the BIT in the PM vs Australia case, for example.

So why were tobacco bad actors? In the Australian case, they launched a suit claiming that by enforcing plain packaging Australia was in essence, appropriating their brand, packaging and associated goodwill. You may think they shouldn't win this argument, I may think they shouldn't win this argument, but regardless, they deserved to have their case heard fairly. They of course lost with costs.

The problem was that PM also quite likely believed that they wouldn't win, and was instead using the process to delay plain packaging legislation in other countries such as Ireland who were waiting on the case results. This would be a clear cut case of abuse, and participating in poor faith.

As per what would prevent other companies from attempting the same thing? Fear that the same thing would happen to them. Because of likely abuse of the ISDS system, tobacco would now have no international recourse whatsoever if governments flat out nationalize their factories.

> This shit is important for increasing investor confidence in countries with nascent court systems and political systems used to corruption and nepotism.

while this is true there are already mechanisms built to counter this uncertainty, i.e. you can get insurance for operating in "dangerous" countries.

How much insurance would Apple require to cover an eventual nationalization and forced shutdown of all of its plants in China? (Purely as an example)

Without a body that can invoke broad sanctions, countries can play chicken with each other. Regimes can simply decide to seize company assets, and hope the offending parties don't cause enough of a real ruckus.

Of course this lowers investor confidence long-term. But governments that do that are rarely interested in this. They're more interested in lining their own pockets with personal wealth.

These sort of trade frameworks build a mutually-assured-destruction setup, so that any BS can get swiftly acted upon by a "neutral" party. And at the end of the day, it allows for stronger rule of law, which is better for most parties. The ones that end up the worst off are the kleptocrats.

Airliners can buy insurance for plane crashes. But most of them would rather planes just not crash.

And yet there were plenty of plants in China before it joined the WTO, right? The uncertainty just gets factored into business.

Sure, ISDS can help a country build more trust, and lower the cost of foreign investments, but it's not a panacea.

Plus, countries would still play chicken with each other. If China decides to seize Apple's plants, what should the US do, declare war? Should France and EU terminate all foreign deals with Egypt due to it not wanting to pay for the Veolia ISDS decision?

because you have the WTO, the US can declare retaliatory tariffs within a generally accepted framework.

There's less debate and uncertainty about the legitimacy of the retaliation, and its better understood than the advanced kremlinology required to decipher some other things.

Not many things are panacea, but things like the WTO have been pretty useful at avoiding trade wars IMO.

Apple doesn't need that insurance (not that anyone could cover it anyway). They have $200B in liquid funds, which they can use to set up shop elsewhere.

> Regimes can simply decide to seize company assets

And they can ignore the provisions in a treaty they sign, too. If a country is willing to start seizing assets and taking the usual penalties in business for doing so, the TPP isn't going to mean much.

Treaties are only as powerful as their ability to be enforced (whether that's militarily, politically, or economically). Have a look at the state of the 19th C treaties between the USA and various Indian nations for a crystal-clear example of this.

Such insurances simply spread the risk of losses due to this kind of corruption among multiple entities. They don't provide incentives to the country to reduce the risk itself, which is the key differentiator.

Of course they do, because they increase the cost of doing business there.

And it does it with a far lower cost to sovereignty.

>Of course they do, because they increase the cost of doing business there.

This misunderstands what incentives are at play for politicians with low accountability in developing countries. The cost of corruption is borne by these investors and domestic consumers, but the benefit of it is entirely concentrated in the political class. Therefore the opposite incentive exists, and the system becomes more resistant to any changes towards more inclusive institutions.


Meaningless buzzword. If a nation no longer favours the basket of benefits and obligations, it is entirely free to leave.

> I'm not ok with private companies suing sovereign nations

Do you think government agencies and leaders should be above the law in general, or only with respect to companies?

The OP has given a brief description, which you have chosen to interpret so as to ignore the real issue.

ISDR (investor state dispute resolution) is usually arranged as a private arbitration, with arbitrators who conspicuously do not meet conflict of interest or probity rules of even a hicksville kangaroo court. ISDR has the power to force judgements which are strongly not in the public interest, under the pretence of 'market interference'. The most obvious case is the tobacco lobby trying to prevent plain packaging legislation.

This idea that trade deals can guarantee commercial justice for large multinationals in authoritarian countries, but we shouldn't expect any such improvement for citizens, is quite abhorrent.

> but we shouldn't expect any such improvement for citizens

Why shouldn't we? Does TPP prohibit that? No. Are you saying that countries with poor rule of law should not make any improvement to the Trent tho for the rule of law unless it does it all completely in one go? Are incremental improvements undesirable or actively bad? That's a pretty extreme absolutist position to take.

Great misquote! Slick.

At the moment governments are pressured by other governments and multinationals to have stronger rule of law. The cost of capital is higher in more corrupt countries. The threat of capital flight is a significant disincentive to government crackdowns on democratic movements -- building stops, bond returns skyrocket, lines of credit disappear, arms sales stumble.

TPP is the promise that your foreign capital is safe, even though locals are screwed. Even better, companies sue governments for raising the minimum wage, or enforcing OH&S.

This isn't 'give a little, get a little', this is 'we're taking your rights'.

The concern with ISDS-style arrangements is usually not that a government might become above the law, but that a company might, in the sense that a government changing the law might be forced to pay compensation to any company that lost out as a result.

In particular, a government that changed the law because certain behaviour was found to be harmful would potentially be required to pay huge amounts of compensation to a company whose business model relied on doing those harmful things. This is particularly relevant in fields like public health, environmental protection and sustainable exploitation of natural resources.

The problem with this is that the same governments that might genuinely legislate to, say, protect public health by banning smoking in restaurants or protect the environment by banning diesel-powered vehicles with unacceptable levels of particulate emissions can also legislate for protectionist purposes in ways that really do screw over foreign companies. This makes countries with such governments, or the fear that their government go down this path, much less attractive for foreign investors. And so those investors look for safeguards that will ensure governments can't arbitrarily take advantage of them once they've put their money in.

Which brings us back to step 1 in the case of foreign investors whose investments turn out to be in harmful things, whether or not anyone realised that in advance, and so the cycle continues.

This fear is based on a few failed attempts to do this in previous trade deals. It's 99% FUD. In reality, it's extremely unlikely. Further, if ISDS ever tried to impose an outrageous judgment that outweighed the benefits of the partnership, the loser could opt to not comply and drop out of the deal.

Exactly, all this guff about overriding elected governments is rubbish. Each government is still sovereign and free to withdraw from the treaty, negotiate changes to it or change its laws as it sees fit. As it happens the US is doing exactly that by withdrawing from the treaty, which they could hVe done after ratifying it just as well as before. So has TPP restricted the sovereignty of the US? Er, no. Could it have? Same answer.

The point of ISDS isn't that it magically constrains the governments in question. It's that the price of choosing not to comply with a ruling is so high (typically, abandoning the entire free trade agreement and reverting to WTO rules) that it's a serious barrier to a government actually doing that.

That doesn't mean we should fear the bogeyman, since in reality such provisions have not been unusual in previous free trade agreements and the most notable ISDS cases were ultimately failures for plaintiffs like Big Tobacco. But even though results have usually gone the right way in the past, they have still cost the governments involved a lot of time and money to fight the case, and that alone is grounds for asking whether the ISDS provisions are a good idea.

Government agencies and leaders are subject to the law and congress is subject to the ballot box.

No foreign nation or individual should be able to override what a country has decided to do via the democratic process. There is no absolute higher authority to appeal to in a true democracy.

Trade dispute resolutions are not legally binding. The judgements are to be implemented or ignored by the sovereign governments that are party to the agreement. If the US Congress ratifies a trade deal, they are saying they will abide by whatever type of dispute resolution is in the deal. If a judgement is made against them, they can comply in the interest of remaining party to the deal or reneg on the whole thing and lose the costs and benefits. Same as signing a peace deal with anither country. We can start shooting again whenever we want but it just means they will shoot back. Sovereignty is at never violating.

"Do you think government agencies and leaders should be above the law"

In this case - it's not about suing the government for doing anything outside the law.

Company ABC decides to extract tons from freshwater from country XYZ.

Country ZYZ realizes this is damaging the environment, and puts in some regulations.

Company ABC can now sue country XYZ - just for having good governance.

There are many reasons that company ABC should be able to sue country XYZ ... but the it's so broad that it can lead to problems.

I'd like you to substantiate this claim. The ISDS mechanism in the TPP would allow nothing of the sort.

Canada is the #1 sued country in NAFTA and the majority of the lawsuits are related to Canada getting sued for trying to protect it's environment.



I'm familiar with the Ethyl Corp case, which is an interesting case to dive into.

Canada banned a fuel additive that was only used by one company (foreign) called Ethyl Corp on the basis of health reasons. Ethyl Corp sued, saying the additive was actually banned for political reasons rather than on any scientific grounds, and the Canadian government chose to settle - paying them some $20 million dollars and withdrawing the law they were implementing.

On the face of it, it seems like Ethyl Corp was the bad guy and the Canadian government was pursuing legitimate policy in the public interest, and this is certainly how it was played out in the media. In actual fact, Ethyl Corp presented the Canadian governments own documents coming from the Health and Environmental departments, dating to about a year prior that unequivocally stated that there was absolutely zero danger from using the additive in fuel. In fact, the party that tried to get the law through had had strong historical links with the domestic companies competing with Ethyl Corp.

In all the papers, it was portrayed as 'Company sues government over environmental protections/health protections', and that's how all ISDS cases get presented in mainstream newspapers. 'Company screwing with our laws' sells way more papers than 'company disputes unfair government policies', I guess. I don't know about you, but I don't think it's fair that foreign investors should be unfairly discriminated against in this way. ISDS prevents political parties from favouring their contributors over foreigners by enacting biased laws such as these. Why should Joe Public lose out because one of the parties is trying to cozy up to their largest donors, and why is it fair that international investors get screwed just because they're foreigners? In actual fact, ISDS is a great way of keeping governments accountable by limiting the political favours they can hand out whilst in office.

Regulations aren't grounds for an ISDS suit, unless they're implemented discriminatorily.

[0] http://www.economia-snci.gob.mx/sic_php/pages/importa/sol_co... (p.4 onwards)

"Regulations aren't grounds for an ISDS suit, unless they're implemented discriminatorily."

If a company believes they can sue, and convince a judge ... well, they'll sue.

I get that it's nuanced, but it's a problem, is my point.

I mean explicitly, you only have a valid claim under most implementations of ISDS if you have been treated differently than a domestic company.

And its their right to have their case heard if that's the case, no?

The actual problem is companies being above the law. The TPP would enable them to petition an unelected panel of lawyers for the right to ignore laws that inconvenience them, and to sue governments for damages that arise from those laws.

Or withdraw from the agreement. This is no different from any other treaty with an arbitration or oversight element, which itself is a law once ratified by a nations legislature. You agree not to do certain things and do others. One of these things in this case is not to pass certain other kinds of laws. So it's simple. Either don't pass those kinds of laws, or withdraw from the treaty. No loss of sovereignty involved.

You seem to have got that backwards. What was meant is that it is not okay when companies are above the law, and sue whole nations for compensation when they are not allowed to run their business in violation of national regulations.

Nothing you said I disagree with yet your tone suggests TPP is by assumption a good thing simply marketed wrong; yet you've not made a single argument for why it is good. It's not just the US government that did little to convincingly persuade the populace about TPP's advantages; nobody convincingly persuaded anyone about its advantages except for the tiny group of elites who negotiated and structured the deal in their own favor.

I'm willing to hear an argument for why TPP would be good for working people in the US. I've never heard anything even close to that. I've heard plenty of hard evidence that it's horrible for working people (and people in general) in the US, while being great for large corporate interests. Sometimes unpopular things are unpopular because they are bad, it's not always a communication problem.

Try Google search for "TPP impact study". There are quite a few reputable studies done. According to [0], the impact to the US would be small and positive when compared to baseline no-TPP scenario (e.g. 0.07% employment gain, 0.23% real income gain, 0.15% higher GDP, etc).

[0] https://www.usitc.gov/press_room/news_release/2016/er0518ll5...

If that's the best argument they can come up with, it's clearly a terrible treaty. The loss of sovereignty, like being able to set your own IP and working condition laws, far outweigh that benefit.

"I'm willing to hear an argument for why TPP would be good for working people in the US. I've never heard anything even close to that. "

It's a free trade agreement like any other.

The benefits of free trade are well understood.

Consumers get access to a larger variety of goods, at better prices.

Companies get easier access to parts/services in their supply chain.

Etc. etc..

Enforcable labour standards and the requirement that member countries allow workers to organize will be good for "working people" in the United States.


Or, you know, they could develop trade deal without all the secrecy and bullshit?

When the government has been lying to you for years about domestic spying, among other things, how do you expect them to follow you blindly on another deal made in the dark?

This country is going to go into chaos in the next ~10-25 years as more and more jobs are automated, unemployment skyrockets, and people refuse to give free money to all the "entitled white heroin users in the Rust Belt." Notwithstanding the effects of global warming ramping up.

Except because of the elitism we get to start this period with Donald Trump at the helm instead of someone at least half sane.

Trade deals are developed in secret for the same reason that all legislation is (before being presented for a democratic vote). The negotiation process is hamstrung by too many interests, with domestic lobbies preventing anything from being discussed at all. This is a point of interest in game theory. Paper here: https://www.jstor.org/stable/2706785

I can't believe you get down-voted for stating the obvious; so many otherwise-smart people jumped on the conspiracy bandwagon for this one. Lots of bad parts to TPP, but the "secrecy" was not one of them.

You are being distracted by irrelevancies if you think this was the main issue. And probably quite foolish if you think democracy means 100% of people give their input to 100% of decisions.

Those pesky voters, getting in the way of any decent democratically elected Congress! I quite agree, all legislation should be formulated in secrecy and foisted on them at the last moment.

The only thing that could improve this situation is that deals should be formed in complete secrecy, with no input from Congress or the Senate and should be ratified solely by the President via a treaty process.

You really want to ensure the Great Unwashed and those incompetents they elect indirectly don't get any where near trade deals, otherwise they might possible make "improvements" such as forcing through openness, accountability, fairness and equality! All of which are totally the anathema of good backroom deals.

The US constitution was another document planned in secrecy and passed by the public. This isn't denigrative of democracy at all, despite the flowery rhetoric. It just leads to better outcomes, as Putnam's paper outlines.

It's a pretty seminal work, I'd encourage reading it.

(8000+ citations, https://scholar.google.com.au/citations?view_op=view_citatio... )

Thank you, I'll have a read of that. It is interesting that these better outcomes were achieved because the gigantic amount of work that was done in secret is now being overturned because of serious and legitimate complaints about the terms of the agreement. That doesn't sound like a particularly good outcome at all!

This is the tariff elimination schedule for the US in the TPP. It's 386 pages long. If each of the industries effected by it were able to voice their concerns publicly/politically rather than simply furthering their interests in closed negotiation, any trade deal would be politically untenable. The alternative outcome doesn't exist.


The fact remains, the TPP is about to be completely undone. That's not exactly particularly effective.

To me secrecy sort of makes sense because it's a negotiation.

You don't want to show your cards in a negotiation, right? So how could the President and Congress say to the American people "this is what we're going to offer and accept from China" and pretend that the Chinese aren't going to hear it too?

Secrecy is often a horrible idea but this is a really complicated issue.

Brexit -- do you think it's good or bad? Because that is democracy.

"Entitled white heroin users in the Rust Belt would rather help themselves with protectionist policies to give them no skill jobs instead of help the rest of the country and the world."

"Black crack smokers in Detroit would rather help themselves with welfare instead of getting a job and helping the rest of the country."

Wow, doesn't that really make you think? Maybe we shouldn't target people by their race, and associate them with negative stereotypes? Maybe we shouldn't dismiss their response to struggle as selfish and stupid? Really gets the noggin goin'.

The problem was the "white heroin users" part. "Selfish and stupid" can't really be argued against.

As for selfish. Since everybody's acting in their own interest selfish is pretty much a given. That's the basis of the whole process. That an act is selfish does not make it bad.

As for stupid, large complex and overarching new legislation taking away tons of rights relating to everything from food to medical treatment from individuals ... and everybody (including the vast majority of Hacker News I might point out) seems to have a problem with this.

This is not a stupid attitude. Why not ?

Start here: https://www.eff.org/issues/tpp

not everyone is selfish as you claim. I, as well as many mature adults, support higher taxes and work against global warming even though both those things could directly hurt me but are better for the public as a whole. that's the difference i guess.

That is a moral subject so complex you cannot possibly summarize it like this. In most cases "supporting" higher taxes (not by actually paying higher taxes of course, which is explicitly allowed in the tax code exactly to call out people like you) comes with social rewards. Well, talking about it comes with social rewards.

Actually paying higher taxes is so rare and unknown that it baffles anyone you tell that it's actually allowed and that a few people did it.

But in case you don't know, here's how you're supposed to do it: http://www.fms.treas.gov/faq/moretopics_gifts.html

So, did you pay higher taxes, say, last year, or not ? Or does it "matter to you that others wouldn't be contributing equally" or something along those lines ?


> TPP is about the US as a whole.

And most of the information I have suggested otherwise.

The problem was that all of the things pertaining to the duties of corporations were optional while things falling on individuals were enforced with the full weight of law.

The people putting together the TPP knew EXACTLY what they were doing and tried to tie together a bunch of unpopular stuff with a bunch of important stuff and ram it all through together.

Given how much effort some of this took to hammer out, they can split the TPP provisions apart and try passing them individually.

I'm gonna call bullshit on this. It's unfortunate people are trying to spin this as negative because Trump is the one pulling out of it, but the TPP was never a good idea, and never good for anybody except big corporations.

The EFF has an entire page on why the TPP was bad. The secrecy was only one part of it. https://www.eff.org/issues/tpp

Some HN headlines related to TPP:

"The Final Leaked TPP Text Is All That We Feared"

"TPP Text Confirms Massive Loss to Canadian Public Domain"

"UN Experts Say TPP and Fast Track Threaten Human Rights"

"TPP could thwart computer security research and tinkering"

I'm going to stop there because people can search the history for themselves. Hate on Trump all you want, but he did the right thing here.

I was actually against the TPP back when all the rumours were spinning around before the text was released. When the full text actually came out, in an old-fashioned sense of obligation I read the whole thing. Then I did it again. Very few fears I had held were grounded. To my surprise though, the narrative didn't change at all. What was actually contained in the agreement was irrelevant. People were afraid of sovereignty, environmental and worker protections and more before the text was released, and they were after.

Here's a couple of common criticisms that will easily identify a commenter as having not read the agreement:

"the TPP (or ISDS) allows companies to sue countries for lost profits" (they don't)

"this is a power grab by pharmaceutical companies" (Pharma was second after Tobacco at being upset with the deal)

"it undermines Net Neutrality" (there are specific points allowing net neutrality regulation, NN was an Obama policy plank FFS)

"TPP worsens environmental or labor conditions" (it actually provides minimum standards that will improve these in developing countries specifically around overfishing, trade of endangered animals, and minimum wage. It's why the deal was endorsed by the WWF)

You have to be weary too of the exact meanings, not just how it reads. I remember reading an article from the EFF on the IP provisions which quoted a lot from the then-leaked information. The quotes all sounded quite fair and reasonable if you read them. Things like "countries should attempt to ensure proper protections of the public domain" (don't remember actual quotes, but that was the tone). But the problem was, as the EFF then pointed out, all of the provisions about protecting the people against corporations where just non-binding advice like that, while most of the provisions about protecting corporations from the people were strong and binding. So even if it seems like a reasonable text, if you look at it in a very critical lawyerish way, it could actually be very different.

Then again maybe you did read it that way and still found it not that bad. I admit I didn't read it myself, but then again I'm from Europe so it's not my agreement to check. Still I have some faith in the EFF and other organisations which did read it and found it a dangerous agreement. And I really think it's a good thing that it's now harder to negotiate trade agreements in secret. It doesn't matter what the traditional way to negotiate these was, they have a big impact on the countries that implement them, and people deserve more than just a (representative) YES/NO to a huge number of potentially life-changing provisions at once.

A lot of people are quoting from the EFF, which I caution with regards to the TPP. They had a shambles of an AMA last year on the TPP where they failed to argue their points very substantively at all:


It's also worth noting that they were invited to be part of the TPP negotiation process but declined. The agreement itself is not that difficult to read. It's meant to be used as a practical functional document, after all. The one thing that is a little tricky is that carveouts and exceptions to one mechanism or another may be listed in a separate chapter.

Are you sure that Trump sees any problem at all with the government spying portion of TPP?

It doesn't change that Trump did the right thing by pulling out of TPP. He may make poor decisions at other times, but it's still a case of credit where credit's due.

When people feel left out of a process that has a big impact on their lives, it's fair to say "no".

You can say that this deal is what's best for them. But whatever harm killing this deal may have done is much less than the harm from letting the elites decide what's best for them without the courtesy of even an explanation.

I think there were a lot of people that voted for Trump simply because the elites told everyone that they had to vote for Clinton. It's a way to remind the government that the people are in charge.

I had a hard time with a lot of the anti-tpp sentiment coming from the left because I felt like Obama did make a good case for it (to me) in some of the interviews I heard [1]. I'll be honest in saying I never took a lot of time to dig into the guts of the thing and really vet out the criticisms of it, but at the highest level (which is what the president usually speaks to), it seemed sound.

[1] http://www.marketplace.org/2015/10/06/economy/president-obam...

there is no argument against it that stands on logical legs. The arguments either just talk about boogie men like corporations, globalism, and the "establishment" or somehow gets mixed with fear of Mexicans/Muslims/Chinese taking jobs.

I assure you, globalism is much more than just a talking point "boogie man", and there is plenty of very valid discussion to be had on the matter in that aspect, seing as according to the supreme law of the land in the US, the Constitution, treaties and agreements entered carry the full weight of federal law. Not a superficial point at all. Which is also why most of us paying attention realized the passing of fast-track was such a large blow to the control mechanisms for such treaties.

Whatever your viewpoint on the TPP itself, to negate criticism of it as lacking any "logical legs" is intellectually dishonest at best.

This is untrue. It encodes the US's broken anti-circumvention law on the global stage, which restricts our ability to freely trade with eachother. There are gains from trade and the TPP should not be used to stop them.

I didn't hear that argument from either the left (bernie - corporations) or right (rust belt voters who barely understand email). only some small online subset of tech savvy users.

The fact that mostly corporations were invited to the negotiations and not the civil society probably didn't help that whole "communication issue" either.

Yeah, I think it's a bit more than a communications issue when they secretly negotiated a treaty that planned to take away the rights of everyone online to give a few media giants even more control over what people can say online.

The EFF has a long list of reasons to oppose it here: https://www.eff.org/issues/tpp

You're not wrong, but you're proving my point. I've said before [1] that "TPP [is] the largest cross-national, non-military cooperation pact of our time. It's a huge power play with serious geopolitical consequences", a perspective that likely echoes that of US allies [2] and yet the conversation in the tech sphere focused solely on IP.

This is a good fight -- one I applaud and support the EFF for pursuing relentlessly -- but this is just one issue in a gigantic compromise legislation that has to attain broad legislative support inside the US [3][4] as well as support from the other signatories, of which there are many.

It was in fact a failure of messaging to not get out ahead of, or in response to these vocal oppositions, as the public's ire was allowed to foment.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11893512#11894446 [2] https://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/07/world/asia/trans-pacific-... [3] http://www.politico.com/story/2015/10/trade-trans-pacific-pa... [4] http://thehill.com/blogs/floor-action/senate/293344-mcconnel...

Then they shouldn't have grouped the orthogonal issues together in an all-or-nothing affair.

My understanding is that the other countries were not pushing to adopt our IP policies (though Japan did), so construing that point as compromise is a bit disingenuous.

I think that, with the exception of environmental policy on the part of the poorer counties, I'd prefer the other countries' notiations. (Other than IP I have no evidence though, as others have said it's hard to come by.)

I do not see it as a communication problem because there's nothing they could tell me that would make me support those IP provisions.

> I think it's a bit more than a communications issue when they secretly negotiated a treaty

Sure, but at least they made this cartoon to help the plebs see the light:


The EFF was actually invited to negotiate the treaty too, but they refused, opting to instead throw stones from the dark.

EFF and Trump admin on same page on something? What is going on?

You are only now just seeing that Trump agreeing with something doesn't make it bad by default? It's not Good vs Evil here. Reality is more nuanced. Glen Greenwald, Edward Snowden, and Julian Assange also espouse certain views that match those of Trump, even though they all despise the man. It's not like Trump just went down a check list and picked the "evil" option for every issue. And the left, such as Hillary, didn't go down the list and choose the "good" option for every issue. Both sides have issues for which they have horrible self-serving stances that the other side opposes, and thus you will find people you look up to often agreeing with your "enemy".

Your preconceptions are collapsing.

Well I'm pretty sure that they are against it for different reasons. Government surveillance is something that a paranoid, insecure person like Trump is going to love.

Sadly that seems to be a very bipartisan attitude:


Actually, one might have some (small) hope that Trump is actually libertarian enough to tone the surveillance state down. Not hoping for much though.

No one can detect a joke when it involves Trump...

Do you have an example of a trade agreement that wasn't negotiated "in secret" and which involved "civil society".

Treaties, free trade treaties foremost among them, are almost never public before the final text is available, because if they were they'd never get that far. Too many interests.

Look, it's a free trade agreement. It says, basically, "no tariffs at all for trade between the signatories". Except of course that every signatory has a list of a thousand "but..." clauses to protect whatever proprietary interests have their ear. So the end results is a big mess of exceptions and clarifications, which is why everyone hates it. There is literally something in there in there that everyone will hate! By design!

I mean, look: it's hardly the most important bill of the decade, and I'm not crying that it failed. But to pretend that this was some collusion of the global illuminati to stick it to the hippies, or white nationalists, or whoever you happen to identify with is just insane.

It's a ?!@#!$ trade treaty, for god's sake.

The fact that most trade agreements are negotiated in secret by special interests doesn't make it right.

The TPP was full of provisions that would have made profits higher for corporations and very little that would genuinely protect workers and the environment. This is understandable given that most the voices in the room were representing corporations.

Were it totally open you'd see something analogous to NIMBYism, would you not?

"Were countries not ruled by kings we'd be arguing back and forth on the triviality of legislation. We need to make sure that there's one strong voice that is capable of deciding everything"

> if they were they'd never get that far. Too many interests.

"That's a feature, not a bug. Whence this argument that trade negotiations are somehow different from every single other aspect of good governance? For all other mechanisms of government, everyone agrees that transparency is a vital mechanism for preventing corruption, and that whatever inefficiencies it introduces into the system are a necessary evil. Yet somehow free trade agreements operate on a different set of rules; even though time after time it's been shown that this invites boatloads of the exact corruption that government transparency is meant to combat."

(This argument gets trotted out with such reliability in TPP threads that I can just copy-paste my response from a previous one)

There have been serious arguments made that too much transparency is crippling the US government's ability to function.

Used to be a lot more compromises made in private, to come up with trade offs both sides could live with but the partisan core supporters would shoot down immediately if they knew. Which leads to our current government, where compromise with the other side of any kind is political suicide.

The partisanship in the US traces primarily to the voting system. Replace it with something like range voting or approval voting and you would have twelve parties instead of two, at which point passing anything would require a coalition government and cooperation with other parties would be a mandatory prerequisite for government action.

I feel like we can trace the hyper-partisanship in America directly to the rise of Fox News.

passing anything would require a coalition government

Yeah, because "coalition governments" have worked so well in countries like Italy. Have they hit the 100 mark yet for number of "coalition governments" formed since WWII?

And the Liberal Democrats made out really well in the "coalition government" that was formed in the UK after the 2010 elections. They went from 57 MPs after 2010 to 8 MPs after 2015. Even Charlie Sheen wouldn't call that "winning".

There's a lot of anti-transparency arguments coming from a mainstream, "woe, the lost bipartisanship", outlook. I'm not sure whether to think this is a nuanced look at tradeoffs or a sickening slippery slope.

> It's a ?!@#!$ trade treaty, for god's sake.

its ramifications would have affected billions of people just as if it were a new civil and criminal law, that's what was so scary about it. Citizens aren't bound to obey international treaties. That's why we have governments.

"But to pretend that this was some collusion of the global illuminati to stick it to the hippies, or white nationalists, or whoever you happen to identify with is just insane."

This is a complete strawman argument, and lacks rational coherence.

An aside; I recently found out about the Nipster movement, Nazi Hipsters. Be afraid be very afraid

You literally snipped the joke out of the middle of the rationally coherent text to argue against it in isolation. Seriously, who's strawmaning here?

Jokes are funny.

The fact that it's always been done that way is not a sufficient excuse.

Oh i guess no big deal then, can't criticize something that wasn't even made available, for god's sake. Insane

I so much hope that one of these countries will quickly change local laws to reduce copyright length to old levels (like 25 years after the life of the author) and start legally distributing (or even producing) movies featuring Mickey Mouse and other Disney "properties".

Unfortunately, the Berne Convention exists and mandates a 50 year post-death-of-author minimum: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berne_Convention

Mind you, 50 years would still be an improvement.

50 years would still put Mickey Mouse in the public domain.

I feel like Mickey Mouse is really a special case - Disney employs literally thousands of people promoting their IP, and MM's been in constant ongoing and heavy use by them since the start. Mickey Mouse isn't a 'sitting on their laurels' situation - it's an actively worked bit of IP - not something that would be described as 'passive income'.

Wikipedia says Mickey Mouse was created by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks. Walt Disney died in 1966, but Ub Iwerks only died in 1971, so wouldn't it still be a few more years before that 50 years after death runs out?


Most countries would still have bans on post ex facto law.

The TPP has nothing to do with copyright lengths. Copyright length is covered by the Berne Convention, first signed in the 19th century.

I don't think you are correct. See this: https://www.eff.org/issues/tpps-copyright-trap

That's right, but it doesn't affect the copyright length of Disney works that were first published in the US. As signatories of the Berne Convention, the countries must already apply the US's copyright terms to those Disney works.

TPP was a trade agreement ruined by a long series of provisions sharply biased towards the USA and certain US industries. So as a New Zealander I'm really happy to see the back of it. Meanwhile we already have an FTA with China (and many other countries) and our trade both ways is booming.

Perhaps we can start again with a much cleaner, people friendly TPP that excludes the US and includes China.

Not a fan of Trump but this is a good thing. See this exert from John Oliver on the effect of such trade deals; https://youtu.be/6UsHHOCH4q8

And that's the existing trade deals, TPP would have made it much worse. There is a reason why democratically elected governments need to protect their sovereignty. The scope of the legal provisions along with the requirement to use easily corruptible mediation is superfluous to free trade.

In addition, I don't understand those that think boxing out Russia and China from the rest of Europe and Asia is a good thing.

FWIW, the ISDS cases referred to in that video have all been lost, with costs.

> sovereignty

Buzzword. A nation is always free to enter and leave contracts for mutual benefit.

> In addition, I don't understand those that think boxing out Russia and China from the rest of Europe and Asia is a good thing.

Vastly preferable to being boxed out of Europe and Asia by the aforementioned powers. Don't be naive.

>I don't understand those that think boxing out Russia and China from the rest of Europe and Asia is a good thing.

The idea is that if you can connect the economies of small regional powers (Korea, Japan, Vietnam or Poland, Romania, Hungary) more than they're connected to the regional hegemon, and you connect those powers to the US, then you will have a balance of power in the region that makes war impossible.

This is essentially the resignation of the US in the Pacific. The TPP was intended to bind the smaller countries in the Pacific closer to the US and away from China. Generally, the election of Trump is the resignation of the US in the battle to remain the global hegemon. We live in interesting times. I just hope it won't become too interesting.

It will take decades to undo the damage from this latest bout of isolationism and protectionism. There was a wealth of FUD surrounding TPP, obscuring the benefits and over-inflating the effects of the more controversial issues like intellectual property rules. A number of TPP criticisms would lead one to believe that intellectual property rules were the main element of the agreement.

Instead of pushing to deal with those criticisms, the entire deal gets scrapped. And along with it, we now have an isolationist push against NAFTA and international trade in general. It'll be interesting to see the damage that's wrought in a vain attempt to somehow stack the deck in favor of "America First."

Sadly, it'll take much longer to fix than it did to screw up in the first place.

In order from best to worst, the possible outcomes were:

1. Fix the many problems with TPP, then pass it

2. Scrap TPP entirely

3. Pass TPP as it was

You say "Instead of pushing to deal with those criticisms, the entire deal gets scrapped.", but this is the real FUD. There was a huge outcry to fix TPP's problems-- that got completely ignored by the USTR, which didn't even try to pretend it had the people's interests in mind. If there were any chance that public criticism of TPP actually could have improved it, I would've preferred that solution, but it was made plain from the beginning that that wasn't going to happen and that we were not welcome at the discussion table.

> Sadly, it'll take much longer to fix than it did to screw up in the first place.

Agreed. The first step, and the hardest, will be for the people pushing for trade deals to start giving a shit about anyone other than corporations and billionaires. Reconciliation and public approval of trade deals can come after that

Scrapping it can be step one of fixing it, or at least a future iteration that probably won't be called the same thing. Demonstrating that the people who weren't invited to the table do in fact have the power to scrap the treaty means next time they'll be at the table, or there won't be a next time.

Alternatively, these countries will sign trade deals with China instead with fewer worker protections and be required to accept China's territory claims as a consequence. China will grow its economic hegemony over other countries, while the US will be ignored outside of military actions.


I have to admit I can not fathom the game theory models that some of you seem to be approaching this problem with. Embrace your cynicism, but play it out all the way. People are greedy. Other people in the world want the money that the United States has. This gives the US leverage and power. The United States does not have all the power, but neither does China; that's just the same error firing in a different direction. There is no scenario where the world just shrugs its shoulders and says "Gee golly, I guess I can't even try to have that American money because the US didn't sign this one treaty and that was the only way that could ever happen".

I'm also not saying everything will necessarily be perfectly peachy, because that's also just the same error firing in a different direction as thinking that it's all catastrophe. It's mostly about fiddling around the margins, not massive binary movements. What will really happen is that some things will be better for the US, some things will be worse, and which one you think dominates will depend upon your values.

The US and the basket of Western interests it represents is in a tug of war with China over how well their businesses can compete within SE Asia/Japan. This is why you'll see the phrase "regulatory harmonization" thrown around a lot; China does business by one playbook, the West does it by another, and whosever playbook all the countries in the middle choose to read from will have lower entry barriers to their markets.

China is pushing trade deals through quickly. The US just wasted 8 years of those eleven countries' time and is strongly signalling protectionism.

China is an economic house of cards. The best course of action is just to wait it out.

I think your ordering is right. I wish there was more information to completely pervasively argue it...

> There was a wealth of FUD surrounding TPP, obscuring the benefits and over-inflating the effects of the more controversial issues like intellectual property rules. A number of TPP criticisms would lead one to believe that intellectual property rules were the main element of the agreement.

If it had such incredible benefits, perhaps people should have talked about those. Ideally with quotes of the text, and discussions about the deltas to the current situation. And even then, that's an argument for passing the good provisions, not for accepting a package deal containing numerous downsides. Of course, all of that becomes much harder to do while trying to operate in secret.

Here you go:

1. Geopolitical influence. The Western world, lead by the USA, wants to dictate terms of trade in the Pacific before China can. This means laying the groundwork for the environments that western businesses and investors are comfortable with. US investors would be less likely to invest in Malaysia if Malaysia was instead following China's lead on IP protections.

2. Stabilizing of third world countries. By providing the frameworks mentioned above, third world countries take a few steps towards providing open and inclusive economies, and the benefits of the trade deal ensure that their leaders are less likely to take steps that would sow uncertainty in their own economies. Also countries with trade agreements are far less likely to go to war with each other. This was one of the main benefits of NAFTA with Mexico too.

3. Straight growth benefits. Every country is predicted to get some additional GDP growth, though large and already liberalised countries like the US won't see too much. On the other hand, poorer countries like Vietnam are predicted to get a staggering 11% extra GDP growth. That's amazing, and will lead to vastly reduced poverty in SE Asia.

4. It includes a glorious fuck you to tobacco companies. Seriously, it blocks them from using ISDS at all, and it sent so many lobbyists into a fit when it was released.

The time for such explanations was long ago, back when TPP was being proposed, and people were providing detailed arguments against it.

I won't claim any kind of expertise on the non-tech-related effects of TPP; I'm not an expert in international trade.

With respect to copyright, patent, and trademarks, however: I really don't care about "investors" who want to make other countries follow more draconian regimes in those areas. There's a happy medium between "zero acknowledgement of foreign copyrights at all" and "ridiculously excessive copyright laws"; ditto for patents and trademarks. TPP just directly exported the US's ludicrously excessive copyright, patent, and trademark laws, complete with DMCA-like provisions and criminal (not just civil) penalties. Those terms at a minimum needed fixing, and I think the people arguing against TPP in its current form on those grounds alone were right to do so.

Agreed. The problems with selling trade agreements is that the benefits (while real) are diffuse while the drawbacks are felt more severely by a small part of the population. It's entirely rational for US manufacturers to be against trade deals, and indeed a lot of such people have a lot at stake. However the benefits of cheaper goods while shared by vastly more people (including those not yet entering the workforce) is harder to notice.

With some exceptions (biologics) you're right on copyright, and I'd agree. However this only tempers my support of what I consider to be an important geopolitical move.

>Also countries with trade agreements are far less likely to go to war with each other. This was one of the main benefits of NAFTA with Mexico too.

I'm not well versed in the details of NAFTA but are you contending that one of it's main benefits was preventing a war between the US and Mexico?

Not war, per se, but rather the stability the point makes more generally. It's easy to look at Mexico and see a country impoverished and rife with corruption, but the pressures put on it by NAFTA have seen it make some impressive moves over the last 30 years. It has the added benefit of reducing immigration incentives (which seem to preoccupy a lot of Americans these days).

"If it had such incredible benefits, perhaps people should have talked about those."

The problem was that nobody saw any need to make the case to the people. They thought they were in charge, and the people had to remind them otherwise.

Exactly. Meanwhile, the people opposed to it communicated at length, in detail, with supporting evidence and quotes.

Yes, but the issue was, that it was to be taken as either all or none, and the intellectual property section, as per what was leaked on wikileaks was kind of ridiculous.

The ISDS provisions were also very controversial.

Why? I think ISDS is an excellent mechanism to subjugate developing countries' governments (I know this sounds like sarcasm, but I think that's the purpose). And the issues regarding cigarettes have been resolved in favor of government regulation of cigarettes.


"It will take decades to undo the damage from this latest bout of isolationism and protectionism."

I take issue with the assumption that these two things are either equal or synonymous, and that the latter has or will cause damage. To boil the argument down, national sovereignty is the real issue at hand, and there is plenty of nuance to be had in the discussion. Such flippant dismissal of protectionism as bad and equating it with isolationism reeks of irrationality and a lack of understanding of the bigger geopolitical and geoeconomic picture.

It's a position I see taken very often these days, but it's not one that stands up to scrutiny in my experience. I would like to say I do understand where it comes from though. It's easy to assume protectionism = isolationism, and therefor rejection of any globally focused trade agreement ergo becomes another form of isolationism, and hence from that perspective it makes sense, but even a base line academic analysis would show much more room for nuanced discussion of the subject.

Of course, that's assuming that your goal is debate or discussion conducive to finding truth in the first place, which I suspect isn't the case.

Not to mention the idea that isolation in a country as large as the US is kind of irrelevant, where goddamn near every natural resource that is required is available domestically

The intellectual property provisions were terrible, so this may be the right action for the wrong reasons.

I'm very confused. When the TPP first leaked as a series of secret talks, everyone on HN was seemingly up in arms about the trade deal. Then it went through, and HN shifted to being very pro TPP. Now it's withdrawn, and now the HN mentality is back to voting for comments that are against the TPP. What is the prevailing opinion here?

The prevailing opinion isn't always the one most written or voted. There is an activation cost to spreading your opinion, and writing is often the act of last resort (ie, no definitively positive action is available).

In the previous situation all that agreed with the TPP need do nothing, as it looked sure to pass, so the argument was not worth having for them. The anti-TPP had very few positive actions available to them so it largely fell to writing.

Now the anti-TPP position has prevailed those against the TPP see little reason to debate it, yet those who were for it are left with nothing but writing.

I think this is correct. Also, it calls to mind some marching that took place yesterday.

HN isn't one person, so I think you can blame the varied reactions on the origin and perspective of the article that the comment thread is hanging on, the relative quality of the arguments made in the particular comment being upvoted or downvoted, and the state of activity of particular groups either supporting or opposing TPP at that moment. The opposition nominally won at the point where Clinton renounced her support while Trump was an unstoppable juggernaut. After this final blow, the thread is largely centrist mourning and a bit of Trump-boosting because of his follow-through on a universally (in the US) popular promise.

Last I checked most Americans with an opinion on the TPP actually supported it.

TPP was dead anyway. The next question is whether the new administration will withdraw from NAFTA.

Probably won't withdraw, but may seek to re-negotiate it is what is more likely

I'm curious to see if the markets react to this. In the grand scheme of things, one trade deal shouldn't move the markets that much -- but the reasoning behind this withdrawal from the TPP is nothing at all approaching any of the real reasons one might be opposed to it -- the cause for this withdrawal is pure unfiltered sabre-rattling protectionism. "Let the trade wars commence and America intends to 'win'." The level of stupid behind that notion is nigh on incomprehensible -- and yet -- here we are.

What is the best summary of the TPP? It was done in such secrecy that it occurs to me that this may be the only good thing that comes from a Trump presidency.

There used to be decent chapter summaries on trade.gov, but it looks like they've been nuked like everything else in the transition.

The Australian government has decent chapter summaries too though, I'd encourage reading those:


Chapters you may be interested in:

Investment (the controversial ISDS provisions are in this chapter)

Intellectual Property



.... and it's only his 2nd day.

How is day 12 going?

Under budget and ahead of schedule.

Maybe it's just me, but wasn't everyone in Silicon Valley that wasn't senior management of a huge company vehemently anti-TPP ?

Why the change ?

As a European, what does this mean for the TTIP and CETA?

I wouldn't expect US participance in either unless they're heavily slanted in favor of US interests.

That's what I would assume. It's hard to tell because right now the Trump administration approach to trade and pretty much everything is solely sloganeering, but the initial actions appear to support the assumptions that Trump is an isolationist and wants to disengage from much of current and future national accords.

I oppose the TPP though not for the reasons given by the Trump administration, who I also oppose, so this exit is bittersweet.

TPP is an attempt by multinational giants to solidify their position above governments / democracy and secure their monopolist rents.

Ah I really wish NZ would withdrawal too. I feel embarrassed to be a Kiwi when they signed it.

Many here love to hate on any and all international trade deals. The problem with is that withdrawing from such negotiations does not stop them. Canada, china, europe, japan, the uk and everyone else will still be meeting and inking deals. Not every deal is great for everyone, but those who sit on the sidelines never win at anything.

If everyone withdraws from them it does stop them.

And by not participating, the bad things the US (i.e. Hollywood) wanted don't end up in there. And the bad things other countries wanted won't apply in the US. And the treaties can't be used for domestic policy laundering in the US.

The problem with these deals is that free trade is generally good but these deals aren't free trade. They're not about eliminating restrictions, they're about imposing them. Which we can do perfectly well on our own via our democratically elected governments, if we want to, and not if we don't.

It's not that simple. Barriers to trade aren't just tariffs. Technical regulations, standards, etc. implemented by participating countries in different manners all serve as barriers to trade. TPP specifically targets these barriers in an effort to make international trade more flexible. It's not about imposing specific restrictions; on the contrary, by and large, it's about looking at existing ones and figuring out just how in the hell you can simplify them and get them to match up better:

But trade discrimination in 2016 is different than it was in 1948, when the GATT made its debut, or even 1994, when NAFTA came into effect. The process of legislating national standards and regulations that can differ from global ones means that governments can block trade in ways the drafters of GATT could never have even imagined.

Those who believe in a rules-based global economy should cheer rather than condemn the fact that TPP runs thousands of pages. Its complexity reflects the fact that, like KORUS before it, the deal is going after high-hanging fruit. After all, the WTO has already picked the low-hanging fruit by disciplining most tariffs. [0]

0. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2016/08/0...

That sort of harmonization belongs in the IETF and its equivalents in other industries, not legally binding international trade agreements.

It also seems like a quite impractical protectionist method for any major country, because foreign competitors will suffer an inconvenience complying with the regulation, but in most cases that won't actually keep them out of the country. And then your country's domestic industry will suffer the same inconvenience exporting their product when they have to comply with the conflicting regulations in the other country.

Wasting resources like that is in the interest of no one, but because it's in the interest of no one, you don't need an international agreement about it, you only need the industry to each go to their respective governments with the same proposed standards and argue that they should each adopt the international industry standards because it will make it easier to export domestic products.

And why would a country that didn't agree to that be willing to sign the trade agreement? (If your answer is "some kind of extrademocratic quid pro quo" then you've discovered why these agreements are much hated.)

The worry over TPP isn't merely about trade policy. One of the main worries is that it could prevent copyright reform and otherwise erode our legal rights. You can find a good summary of the arguments against it here:


Trump is a TV executive. He literally owns pieces of TV shows. One of his cabinet finances (bad) movies. Any copyright changes they make will be so MPAA-friendly that we will all be wishing for the TPP. Youtube's legal team is probably sweating bullets atm over potential changes to fair use rules.

I never said anything about Trump. If he proposes bad changes to copyright, I will protest them, too.

Well said. By shunning TPP instead of bringing it back to the table for renegotiation, this administration has set the tone for American/European economic involvement in Asia for decades to come. The consequences of this will be severe, and will materialize in the form of harm to the poorest segments of our population.

Basics example: the canadian pipelines. If the US doesn't want canadian oil then China will take it. There are pipeline plans in canada pointing both south and west, nobody really cares which way it goes. And Vancouver has more Chinese nationals than Americans. If push comes to shove on lumber, oil, grains (ie beer ingredients) or any other basic resource there is another ready customer on this planet.

The Canadian pipelines were always about shipping petroleum and natural gas over to China.

That's part of the reason people oppose the DAPL and other pipelines, because US (and Canadian) communities are taking on the environmental risks of economic arrangements that benefit the wealthy (Trump was invested in DAPL) and China, with a few pipeline jobs the crumbs to satiate the affected communities.

TPP has been one of the worst things to happen to New Zealand. If only we would open our eyes and withdrawal too.

Withdrawal from the TPP gives China the opportunity to take the lead in those regions. Xi understood this and is taking full advantage: https://www.ft.com/content/8662c3b6-a72b-11e6-8b69-02899e8bd...

We were told by the Very Smart People we had to go into Vietnam, because otherwise Domino Theory assured that the Communists would take over the world. We lost Vietnam, and tens of thousands of lives, and nothing happened.

We were told by the Very Smart People that we had to invade Iraq, because otherwise the Islamists would consolidate control over the region. We invaded, and not only did we not prevent that outcome, we actually caused it.

I didn't even vote for Trump, but the one thing I'll side with him on is that I'm quite sick of being told that we have to take this or that self-destructive action for the sake of defeating the foreign-boogeyman-du-jour.

I didn't really make any value judgements, simply described what's happening in the world.

>We were told by the Very Smart People we had to go into Vietnam, because otherwise Domino Theory assured that the Communists would take over the world. We lost Vietnam, and tens of thousands of lives, and nothing happened.

Please stop trying to dramatize reality. The truth is that withdrawing from a multilateral 'trade' deal has consequences, and those are worth analyzing.

>We were told by the Very Smart People that we had to invade Iraq, because otherwise the Islamists would consolidate control over the region. We invaded, and not only did we not prevent that outcome, we actually caused it.

I don't really understand what you're saying, to be honest - are you talking about the Iraq War, like the one that happened in '03? Do you think that's the reason that was cited, or the motivation of the administration?

>I didn't even vote for Trump, but the one thing I'll side with him on is that I'm quite sick of being told that we have to take this or that self-destructive action for the sake of defeating the foreign-boogeyman-du-jour.

Funnily enough, Trump gave up a great piece of leverage and instead needs to resort to threats ('China wont go into the north china sea', recognizing Taiwan). So the net result in the change in relations is much less effective and much riskier leverage.

> We were told by the Very Smart People that we had to invade Iraq, because otherwise the Islamists would consolidate control over the region. We invaded, and not only did we not prevent that outcome, we actually caused it.

This is incorrect. The primary justification for the 2003 invasion of Iraq was that Saddam Hussein's regime had WMDs, and that his WMD programs were a growing threat to the region and the world. The majority of Americans thought that invading Iraq would increase the terror threat to the US.[1]

1. In a CBS/NYTimes poll, 62% of those polled said that if the US took military action vs. Iraq, the threat of terror would increase. http://www.cbsnews.com/news/poll-talk-first-fight-later/

The fear of those polled was that Bin Laden's Al Qaeda would seek vengeance for an attack on Iraq. That's because the Bush administration successfully promoted the lie that Saddam was buddies with Bin Laden despite the fact that the latter publicly denounced the former for running a secular state and actively suppressing Islamist ambitions.

The Very Smart People said that invading Iraq was idiotic and would cause chaos throughout the Middle East. They were right.

The people advocating invasion did so on the basis that their WMD program represented a threat to the world. They were obviously full of crap to anyone paying attention at the time.

Nope, the plan to invade Iraq was created before 9/11 and information was faked to get us to go to war. No smart people told us we should go, it was only Bush, Cheney, etc. The smart people worldwide were pretty much all in agreement about what a bad idea it was.

> We invaded, and not only did we not prevent that outcome, we actually caused it.

Well yeah, who thinks you bring peace with war? There are ways we could have taken over Iraq peacefully, such as making it a protectorate and giving everyone health care (which would have been far cheaper than the war).

In fact, what you're saying is the second half of the traditional "We have to do something, and this is something, so we have to do this." fallacy. "Well, if bombing the the ungrateful fuckers didn't make them love us we're out of here."

No, you've got a lot of shit to fix before you get to quit.

As insane as it sounds, the brutality and extreme loss of life in the Battle of Okinawa was a deciding factor in dropping the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. According to wikipedia, every male citizen over the age of 18 died over the course of the 82 day battle. Over 20,000 American soldiers died, and somewhere between 75,000-110,000 Japanese and Okinawan soldiers died.

The argument is that a land invasion would have resulted in far more than the 129,000 people killed by the two bombs.

The use of nuclear weapons wasn't expected to end the war; in fact even after Nagasaki the invasion of Kyushu was planned to be supported by at least seven such bombs, which were to be used to destroy beach defences and defenders. More were needed for the final jump to Tokyo.

Later it emerged that it was actually the Soviet delcaration of war on the 8th August that was the deciding factor for surrender; the Japanese had stocked around 10,000 aircraft in Manchuria which were now under threat and they couldn't fight a two-front war.

Yes, the two bombs ultimately saved untold thousands lives but that was more accidental than deliberate.

I've read about this theory as well. Hiroshima and Nagasaki were something like the 29th and 30th Japanese cities that had been completely leveled by bombings. Thus, the Japanese were not necessarily moved by more of what had been constantly occurring for quite some time.

Japanese leadership assumed they could negotiate with the Russians, and therefore still had an out. When this avenue was closed, the Japanese were forced to face the fact that they had lost.

It's somewhat ironic that the Russian army put forth the vast majority of effort and lives that defeated the Germans, yet it was America that reached Berlin first, resulting in Nazi surrender. This was reciprocated in the Pacific theater by the Americans expending the lions share of the effort and lives, yet it was the Russians that forced Japanese surrender.

Although, this is all theory by historians. It still stands to reason that in the moment, the Americans speculated that the use of nuclear weapons would end the war. After all, Truman issued an ultimatim that essentially spelled out what would and did happen if the Japanese did not surrender.

> yet it was America that reached Berlin first, resulting in Nazi surrender.

Um, no.


I stand corrected. Thank you.

> Later it emerged that it was actually the Soviet delcaration of war on the 8th August that was the deciding factor for surrender

Emperor of Japan directly cited "a new powerful weapon" in a surrender address.

> the Japanese had stocked around 10,000 aircraft in Manchuria

Sources? Why Japan had to stock that number of aircraft so far away from the planned invasion points?

Good! Let's see what new monsters the DRM lobby will pull out of their twisted minds.

TPP was a threat to the sovereignty of the United States. It would have encoded in a multilateral trade agreement, representing huge amounts of economic activity, massive regulatory requirements, enforcement courts, and processes for further multilateral regulation. It would have made the cost of changing those regulations unbearable for any future administration.

We almost had the regulatory state imposed at an international level. Good riddance.

It's nice to see I'm not completely alone on HN in defending the concept of national sovereignty these days, because often it can be a very lonely field to argue about.

Having spent a lot of my time since getting out of the military trying to understand the bigger geostrategic picture, I am fairly confident in saying the national sovereignty is one of the most important, and most under-discussed, issues of our time as we progress towards an increasingly global economy. The global economy itself is here, and I am not disputing that the world needs more cooperation on international issues such as global climate change, but far too often I see these arguments being used to then turn around and use those issues to advocate overthrowing the idea of sovereignty, which I find is logically fallacious reasoning, callous, naive, and can only imagine such touting comes from the ivory tower of intellectuals, academics and other insulated peoples who haven't experienced the stark reality of this world when the sovereignty of nation states is violated.

In short, those who call for an end of nationalism fail to understand the proper and right role of sovereignty in the apllication of the rule of law, and in the ability for the people to affect their government.

My question for those who propose national sovereignty as being an outdated concept, I have one question:

What would you propose to replace the nation-state with once you toppled it down?

I couldn't have said it better myself. Sovereignty is the only barrier between you and a global government that turns tyrannical. If you can't run away from a bad government when you need to, you'll be in deep doo-doo.

For me, the optimal outcome is actually as much secession as possible - to a state or county level. With so many options in place, people can self-select into what fits their style and culture. This would be, in my view, a recipe for increased global peace. It is when forced integration is in place that conflict emerges.

Well said. There is no replacement for the market of ideas.

The TPP doesn't weaken the nation-state. Like every other "trade deal", it has much more to do with foreign policy and geopolitics (reinforcing US power and isolating China) than with economics or trade.

I agree about the importance of sovereignty, for the same reasons as Nassim N. Taleb. He says the EU results slightly increases efficiency at the cost of vastly increased complexity and fragility, and therefore weakens the world order and threatens global peace. This isn't the case for the TPP, and it's unlikely that Trump can negotiate something much better economically.

It's not about sovereignty, it's about the rule of law. Every international agreement involves governments committing themselves to do certain things and not do others. Sometimes that also means agreeing to abide by judgements by an arbitrator. But they're free to negotiate changes to those agreements or withdraw from them. That means they retain sovereignty.

Treaties passed by the legislative branch of the government are laws. Do you believe that your governments executive branch should be bound by the laws of your nation, or not?

You retain sovereignty in a technical legal sense, but the cost of exercising that sovereignty becomes prohibitively expensive if you can't get the other signatories to agree. That's why trade agreements that mandate extensive intellectual property and other regulatory frameworks are so dangerous.

So you're aware, you're being downvoted for "liberal internationalism". I'm completely a liberal internationalist, and I opposed TPP- for a lot of the reasons you described! This is a class issue, not a partisan issue.

The TPP was far greater than a class issue. It was part of the War on General Purpose Computation (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HUEvRyemKSg). It cut through class lines, into our ability to control the technology in our lives.

I just removed it because it's not even the right word. I meant to refer to the philosophy that seeks to incrementally build an international legal order. It's commonly called "liberalism" within the context of international relations but isn't directly related to contemporary western leftism, also called "liberalism". https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liberalism_(international_rela...

I think the word that most clearly states what you mean, and would be understood by the greatest number, is "neoliberalism". In any case, I've undone my downvote.

Probably the only silver lining to be found in the new administration.

Please don't post generic partisan comments. They lead to generic partisan flamewars.

Here's my take. Look at Rex Tillerson, and a lot of others in his cabinet, not to mention Trump's donors. This looks more to me like the speech did, claim to bring power back to the people and then end a regulation that would yield savings for homeowners on their mortgages a couple hours later. Claim to want healthcare for all and not really put forward with a replacement, but continue the route towards repeal. Claim to be against "global financial interests" then appoint rich, wealthy donors to his cabinet and not to mention a number of former Goldman Sachs employees.

The point is a lot of money on the line. Being against TPP is good politics, but it doesn't fly well with those who funded him. I am worried what happened with the ethics office will happen here: they tried it, be blown back by the bad rep it gets, reverse course, then pass rules that limit the ethics office anyway when no ones looking. I have a feeling that Trump is doing this for press now, but a form of the TPP will pass anyway because there is just too much money on the line.

More soothsaying.

It might temper your confidence to know that most forecasts have routinely been wrong about President Trump.

His press secretary is already blatantly lying to the media and complaining that they reported the news accurately, so that surely bodes well.

Opposed to the polite kind of lying the previous administration engaged in. At least I get my bullshit upfront with this guy.

"If you like your insurance, you'll keep your insurance."

Politifact honored that utterance as Lie of the Year in 2013.


that's just the icing on the cake.

There's all that "collateral damage" via drone strikes, and then his stepping all over the constitution, nothing to see here folks, move it along.

The loaded gun that Obama left for Trump is what terrifies me the most. Trump has been shown the way on what to do when you want to take out a citizen without due process of law. I am hopeful that all the disdain against Trump will result in a peeling back of these abuses that Obama pioneered, even more so than his predecessor, Mr. Bush.


What does your comment even mean? According to you, you're getting lied to either way.

So I kinda understand, but at the same time don't understand the point of articles like this.

"Ha ha, Trump didn't do all those awful things that he said he would on the very first day!" Shouldn't that make people who are against Trump happy?

I know, I know, the point is that people who are apparently smart but don't understand the concept of hyperbole can say "LOL Trump lied again, he said he'd do all this stuff on day one but he didn't until day three, you Trump voters got taken for a ride!"

People don't like a wildcard. Trump's broken promises are a little more than slight exaggerations. At this point I have to wonder if it's possible for him to lie in a way he hasn't already which will lead his supporters to recognize it as more than hyperbole. My guess is that it's not about what he says, but whether they feel he is acting in favor of their interests or not - which is really a totally different matter.

He just stood up in front of the CIA and claimed that he had more people than any Inauguration. In reality, he had less than half. The man has 0 integrity. It's not just one thing, it's everything he says. Hillary had a public and a private position - he's got so many positions his words mean nothing.

Yes, he really does seem to be behind reducing immigration. Yes, I can guess that when he stood up and told Silicon Valley's CEOs he was going to remove the borders and trade restrictions, he was probably lying. But in the end, the details are what matter, and for him to violate every single thing he says in favor of vague wishy-washy nonsense is not someone I can trust as President.

>He just stood up in front of the CIA and claimed that he had more people than any Inauguration.

Except he didn't. I watched that press conference. He said he had lots and lots of people. He never said he had more people than Obama. He was calling out CNN because CNN was trying to make it seem like had less than half.

>In reality, he had less than half.

Except we have photos showing he have almost the same as Obama. Around 90% of Obama.



The photo you saw probably came from CNN. CNN posted a photo from earlier in the day, before people started filling it up, and claimed that Trump only had half the people.


Here's a photo closer to the end, showing the crowds goes all the way to the back, almost comparable to Obama.


So even his own forecasts are wrong :)

More seriously, they might not complete on day 1, but many will happen. E.g. your article lists the TPP withdrawl was a broken "day 1" promise. How long did that take? Couldn't have been much more than 24 hours...

Well that's how the "Trump is such a liar" stuff works. Take everything he says 100% literally with no wiggle room and wow, look at all those promises he broke. He said he'd do this the first day, it's actually the second day! What a complete fraud this guy is!

This is not normal. Trump is not normal. Do not act like this is just any old election. Millions of people in the USA and around the world do not normally march in protest of our elections.

Oh yeah, and trump is a liar. That's very well documented - and just a google search away. But I'm not really concerned with if he's a liar or not. I just care about what he ends up doing. I do not suspect I will like it very much - but I would LOVE to be wrong.


Please post civilly and substantively, or not at all.


We detached this flagged subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13453095.

I know your comment was sarcastic, but NAFTA has been around since 1993, which precedes Obama by several administrations.[1]

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_American_Free_Trade_Agre...

I came here to reply the same thing.

More important than ignoring trolls is to combat them with facts so other observers don't get the wrong impression about the topic they troll.

I would love to see more work along the lines of browser extensions that automatically provide a certain amount of factual context/background around articles. This browser extension[1] seems like a great start in that direction.

[1] https://github.com/rabidaudio/fact-check-extension

Instead of responding to trolls, just click the timestamps on their comment to find the "flag" button. (I'll delete this comment in a few minutes to clean up the thread; you could do that too.)

Sorry about this! I went to go make dinner and forgot about promising to delete the comment.


Because if they are in fact just trolls, they aren't simple misapprehensions made in good faith that can be corrected by facts and reason. They're either an intentional derailment or a lie told as a catchy tune to be repeated by others. "Obama wants to take away your guns and institute death panels" can't actually be refuted by facts because the problem isn't that the teller just holds the wrong facts. There are no facts or arguments will make that person walk away with their mind changed.

Which one this commenter was is up to you, but actually responding to trolls makes the problem worse, not better. It's a case where only moderation can really help.

Besides, Hacker News is very clearly a heavily moderated echo chamber and you don't have to spend long here to know it. And there's nothing wrong with that, nobody is obligated to go to places that they don't want to go and this is an interest group with a culture. Accosting people in their interest groups to demand that they debate you is clearly not helpful to anyone.


If you continue to post uncivil and/or unsubstantive comments, we're going to have to ban your account. No more of this, please. We don't want partisan or ideological flamewars here.

Hey thanks for your reply. How could I have edited my comment to be acceptable? Just replace "Ohbummer" and "Ohbuttocks" and use "Obama?"

Is that the only problem?

That was the only egregious thing in that comment, yes. But you've got a pattern of posting comments that are both political and unsubstantive (like https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13453147). That's a bad combination for HN—one of the worst—so please don't do that.


I see you've been on Hacker News for a long time, but haven't been very active, so I just thought I'd point you toward the guidelines, linked at the bottom of the page.

Of particular note, name-calling is off limits, even if it's of the former President and he's not actually involved in the thread. Among other things, it's a relatively strong signal that productive dialogue is not going to happen. Since we prefer productive dialogue here, we'd appreciate if you'd fill your comments with substance but not name-calling.

You literally responded to Animat's comment about NAFTA.

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