Data visualization shows US isolation in pushing for brutal Trans-Pacific Partnership

Gabriel Michael, a PhD candidate at George Washington University, subjected the IP Chapter of the secret Trans-Pacific Partnership, leaked by Wikileaks last week to statistical analysis. The leaked draft has extensive footnotes indicating each country's negotiating positions. By analyzing the frequency with which the US appears as the sole objector to other nations' positions, and when the US is the sole proponent of clauses to which other nations object, Michael was able to show that TPP really is an American-run show pushing an American agenda, not a multilateral trade deal being negotiated to everyone's mutual benefit. Though Canada is also one of the main belligerents, with even more unilateral positions than the USA.

This graph indicates that the core overlap of negotiating positions currently includes New Zealand, Singapore, Chile, and Malaysia, although the direct connection between New Zealand and Singapore is weaker than the others. If we consider geography, culture, and politics, countries on the outskirts of this network often appear to connect via sensible routes: Mexico through Chile, Australia through New Zealand, and Brunei through Vietnam and Malaysia. Canada’s connection through New Zealand makes sense, though the connection through Malaysia is odd; likewise, Peru via Chile makes sense, but via Singapore is surprising.

Returning to the large network graph, we can include sole-country proposals, which show up as loops connecting a country back to itself. This allows for a direct comparison of the data from the first two bar graphs, and gives us a sense of the degree to which a country is joining with other parties vs. “going it alone.”

The United States and Japan are still relatively isolated, but we can also see that they’ve made numerous sole-country proposals, perhaps related to their relative isolation. Though Canada has the highest number of sole-country proposals, it also has strong connections to many other countries. Singapore, Peru, Malaysia, and Brunei have so few sole-country proposals that their loops are barely visible.

The United States is isolated in the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations [Henry Farrell/WashPo]