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]

Notable Replies

  1. In summary, what can we conclude from these data? Canada, with by far the most sole-country proposals, seems like it is up to something.

    Something good or something eeeeeeeeeevil?

  2. Ygret says:

    This is most assuredly NOT true. In fact, free trade helps corporations at the expense of people by turning wages into a zero sum game with the peoples of different nations competing with each other for who can work for less. Large portions of the masses of Bangladesh, Thailand, Jamaica, China, etc., went from subsistence farming in the countryside to diseased, polluted shanty towns where they don't have enough to eat. Sure a very small segment of these societies prosper, but that is not good enough to justify impoverishing and sickening the vast majority.

    Actually, most all of these trade barriers, tariffs in other words, are gone already. TPP is more about US companies dominating via patent and copyright expansions and locking poorer nations into being police for US corporations while opening up even more of their national livelihood to corporate domination: if a nation wants to provide a service of benefit directly to their people forget it, the TPP doesn't allow for expansion of social programs. Companies will be able to sue poor countries for "lost expected profits" anytime a nation passes an environmental law or wants to regulate an industry they can be sued for massive "damages". The history of "trade agreements" from NAFTA onward have been a travesty for first world workers and third world workers alike. And the TPP helps to cement these changes in place while gutting sovereignty once and for all.

    If it was merely about cheaper sneakers for the poor you might be right. Unfortunately the reality is much worse than the fantasy you've been fed. Ask yourself, when has the global corporate structure ever done anything that helped the people of the world over its own bottom line? Given that the global corporations are salivating over this TPP it is obvious who will benefit. And who will suffer.

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