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Tightening Global Trade Rules

The United States wants to impose its rules on much of the world through the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) that has been agreed to by 12 Pacific Rim countries will, when actualised, usher in the world’s largest trade bloc. The free trade agreement (FTA) that is the TPP began taking shape in 2008 when the United States (US) agreed to engage with New Zealand, Singapore, Chile and Brunei, the so-called “P4” group of countries, which had concluded the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership in 2006. However, it was not until late 2009 that US President Barack Obama gave the green signal for the US to join the TPP negotiations “with the goal of shaping a regional agreement that will have broad-based membership and the high standards worthy of a 21st century trade agreement.”

For six years, the TPP negotiations were held in absolute secrecy. In an unprecedented move during the eighth round of the negotiations that was held in Chicago in 2011, each participating country took an oath of secrecy stating that the “substance of the negotiations, and other information exchanged in the context of the negotiations... will be held in confidence, unless each participant involved in a communication subsequently agrees to its release.” This oath of secrecy seems to be holding good even after the announcement of the formal conclusion of the TPP negotiations on 5 October, for the details of the various covered agreements of the TPP are yet to be revealed publicly.

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