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Obama’s International TPP Takes Big Hit

Aug. 1, 2015 (EIRNS)—Twelve trade ministers from the nations negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in Hawaii failed to reach a deal after marathon talks in Hawaii, effectively stopping the project in its tracks. The ministers failed to reach agreement on such issues as dairy products, sugar, autos, and property rights. While the talks could be taken up against next year, it will now run into the US elections, which could well kill it altogether.

Australian Trade Minister Andrew Robb said the problem lay with the "big four" economies of the United States, Canada, Japan and Mexico. "The sad thing is, 98 percent is concluded," he said, according to Reuters.

Three outstanding issues are undecided. The dairy and auto issues are ordinary tariff issues of international trade, while the drug provision would greatly lengthen the length of pharmaceutical patents, undermining generics for the poor. The rumored, more contentious, issue of corporate suits against a country’s domestic laws was not discussed in the press reports on the secret meetings.

But as the Sidney Morning Herald pointed out, the TPP is

"about entrenching the clean, transparent and open norms that are necessary for cross-border services and investments to thrive."

And above all it was the economic side of Obama’s “pivot”, in which the Obama Administration hoped to bring together the countries in the region sans China in a solid “trade bloc” against China. It was also an attempt to undermine the BRICS collaboration, which has been greeted enthusiastically by the developing nations and their ability to create a new type of trade regime. "If we don’t write the rules, China will write the rules out in that region," has been the Obama mantra since this whole boondoggle was first proposed.

On Friday, when the talks were in the penultimate stage, Wikileaks documents indicating that the United States has for years been intercepting phone calls between Japanese officials on sensitive issues including trade, climate change and bilateral relations, according to a cache of cables.

The failure of the TTP talks can not be directly tied to the Wikileaks cable exposure, but it illustrates that the TPP talks are occurring in a miasma of ubiquitous NSA cyber-espionage and and China confrontation.