Please note: the purpose of this diary series is not an argument for or against the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
There have been a great number of diaries written on this topic, and my only goal here is to provide more information regarding what TPP does, and what it doesn't do.
Part one: Understanding free trade agreements can be found here.
Part Two: Manipulating Free Trade can be found here.
In Part One, we discussed how FTAs don't create a free for all between trade partners; there are provisions that each partner must work within, and many times trade between, for example, Canada, the United States, and Mexico will fall outside of the parameters of NAFTA.
But in Part Two we learned how that can sometimes (or even often) be manipulated, so that exporters obtain preferential treatment even when products don't (or shouldn't) fall within those parameters.
We learned in both part one and part two how some countries are able to negotiate much stronger standing than other partners in a FTA. (Mexico flooding the sugar market of North America to the detriment of Canada, for example.)
Before we do the jump, let's go over a few of the necessary notes and such:
First, I appreciate all of the positive feedback I've received, and I really appreciate the questions that I get in the comments section. That helps me understand my audience a bit more and attempt to address specific questions and concerns that some readers have.
That being said, I don't think I fully appreciated what a monster this project would be until I started writing it. In fact, this started as a single diary in December. Due to the many disruptions in my life around that time I had to temporarily abandon it. When I came back to revisit it, I realized that it would have to be a series or the longest blog post ever written. (I think I've passed the "TL;DR" threshold in each diary already, so I truly do appreciate those of you have stuck with me on this.)
So there are a lot of other points about FTAs that I wanted to address before we moved on to the TPP, but we're getting to the point where we don't have a lot of time left on this subject and I'm going to have to let those things be side-notes in subsequent diaries. (Whenever this happens, I'll still make myself available in the comment sections to further elaborate on any point that seems unclear.)
And, finally, please keep in mind that as we venture on to the meat of the TPP that things might take a different tone. This is for a few reasons:
A) Where I don't have a strong opinion on FTAs in general, I do have one on the TPP. From this point on, we're going to be analyzing the TPP and I hope to keep my personal feelings out of it, but I can't promise that it will happen. Analyzing this for me means wearing a few different hats, so I apologize in advance if we veer from a "just the facts" series to a more opinionated piece.
B) Analyzing the TPP is going to be difficult given that I don't have a document to compare and contrast with previous trade agreements. Leaked documents and other reports are not the same as a final deal, so we'll all be fumbling in the dark on this point.
C) The main reason that I wanted to address the TPP is because it is not a traditional free trade agreement. That is also why I wanted all of you to have a better understanding of what a traditional free trade agreement consists of. We'll get into the hows and whys of how TPP differs from NAFTA, but the short version is: TPP goes well beyond simple trade and into much murkier waters.
This means that I can address in detail the trade part of the deal, but there are provisions that involve trade only tangentially and I am simply not qualified to analyze that with the rigor that I'd have with a compare and contrast to NAFTA and CAFTA. TPP is simply above and beyond that.
Alright, let's do the jump and understand the basics of TPP.