[Leftist Critic is an independent writer, researcher, and comrade who cares about the world around them. Other than posting on radical subreddits, they also tweet infrequently at @leftistcriticabout about the murderous US empire, international solidarity with nations and peoples under attack, and provide necessary criticism of the Western “Left.” They can be reached at leftistcritic@linuxmail.org.]

By Leftist Critic

On January 23rd of last year, the orange menace removed the U$ from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), an agreement which strongly increased the rights of investors, had imperial aspects to it, and was strongly advocated by Obama. The removal of the U$ from the TPP should be applauded as a victory by the “grassroots movement and numerous individuals across the spectrum against the deal” not the orange menace. However, the orientation of the current administration of the murderous empire, which has continued aggressiveness toward China, has expressed an “economic nationalist” message of protectionism, even with the departure of Steve Bannon. This has included declarations by the orange menace that the “free trade” agreement with the ROK (often called “South Korea) will be scrapped, and that such trade deals, like the CPTPP will not happen in the future. This has afforded him some support from trade unions in the U$, the technocratic core of the labor aristocracy in the murderous empire, even though the orange menace is actually a neoliberal monster and a fascist. As the U$ seems to be undermining its supposed position as “the sole superpower… in a unitary world order,” which was formed after 1991, the 11 other states which were parties to the TPP worked to craft a “new” agreement. They re-branded the TPP, calling it the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP or TPP-11). In order to recognize the nature of this “new” agreement, it is necessary to outline what has changed from the “old” agreement, how the bourgeoisie in these 11 countries will benefit, what it means for the proletariat, and suggestions for a way forward.

An overview and the CPTPP’s benefit to the bourgeoisie

There are eleven states that are members of this agreement, which was signed at a public event in Santiago, Chile, on March 8th: Chile, Vietnam, Japan, Malaysia, Brunei, Mexico, Australia, Peru, New Zealand, Canada, and Singapore. This may seem a strange mix of revisionist “socialists” (Vietnam), a bourgeois republic led by social democrats to be replaced by a diehard Pinochet defender (Chile), five constitutional monarchies (Japan which is led by the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), a nationalistic, conservative party; Malaysia, headed by a Sunni Islamic party and the socially conservative National Front (BN); Australia, headed by a coalition consisting of the reactionary Liberal Party, Liberal National Party, and National Party; New Zealand, headed by social democratic New Zealand Labour Party, holding the government in a coalition with reactionary nationalist party, New Zealand First, with Greens assisting; Canada, headed by Liberal Party of Canada), an Islamic monarchy (Brunei), and three bourgeois republics headed by neoliberals (Mexico, Singapore, and Peru). Of this, only six of them have to approve the agreement using “applicable legal procedures” and then the agreement will take effect in 60 days. According to the 2016 estimates of the Gross Domestic Product or GDP (official exchange rate) as listed by horrid, propagandistic CIA World Factbook, the bourgeoisie of Japan, Canada, Australia, and Mexico will likely get the most benefit as they have the highest GDPs, with a reported total GDP of all members numbering “$13.5 trillion, or 13.5% of global GDP,” making the CPTPP “one of the largest free trade agreements in the world” if the Canadians are to be believed. It is worth mentioning here that GDP is a “poor measure of prosperity,” not reliably gauging production, as it is the “annual aggregate production of all goods and services in a country” and does not indicate economic well-being of the country since “activities that are detrimental to the long-term economy,” like environmentally destructive activities, increase the GDP as a whole, as noted by bourgeois analysts and other sources. Additionally, these same analysts note that GDP does “not measure the economic growth at all” even as they declare that it is the “best indicator measuring the economy” despite the fact that it determines a “country’s growth and standard of living” only from a “material perspective,” not factoring in social welfare, while masking economic differences within a country, and what bourgeois economists call “externalities” like “output of greenhouse gases by power plants, automobiles, and industrial plants… trash output, and pollution” which should actually be called the destructive environmental effects of capitalism itself! Even so, if we use the GDP as a measure, it could indicate that such bourgeoisie will benefit.

Apart from the declared GDP of each country, approximately 500 million people (whom the Canadians declare in business terms are “customers”), in these 11 countries, using, again, 2017 estimates from the horrid CIA World Factbook, would be affected by this agreement. Of these countries, Japan is the most populace, with over 126 million people, with Mexico second with over 124 million people. Apart from them, Vietnam is the next most populous, with over 96 million people. Other countries don’t even compare in terms of population, with Canada having almost 36 million people, Malaysia having over 31 million, the same being the case for Peru, and Australia having 23 million people. The other four countries have relatively smaller populations. Chile leads this pack, with over 17 million people, Singapore with almost 6 million people, New Zealand with about 4.5 million people, and Brunei with not even half a million people. These dynamics undoubtedly affect how the CPTPP impacts the proletariat in each of these countries and benefits their respective bourgeoisie.

Last month, on February 20th, a FAQ assembled by the Canadian government claimed to tell the “truth” about the agreement. They noted that the CPTPP incorporates provisions of the TPP,  except for a “number of provisions pertaining mainly to intellectual property and investor-state dispute settlement, whose application will be suspended once the CPTPP comes into force,” treating the Canadian government as “progressive” crusaders, which is far from the truth.[1] This same FAQ revealed, if you read it carefully, how they think would benefit the Canadian bourgeoisie: it would provide them “significant opportunities for trade and investment” in varied Asian markets, especially “Japan, Malaysia and Vietnam” allowing Canadian products to “gain preferential access to a market of nearly 500 million consumers” especially for “Canada’s auto sector… Canadian vehicle and parts exporters…[and] Canadian agricultural sector.” This FAQ also declares that the “domestic ratification procedures” for Canada will “include further domestic engagement, the tabling of the CPTPP in Parliament and the introduction of implementing legislation” which will give the masses time to organize opposition to it in the Canadian parliament. Later that month, on February 28th, another statement was released, highlighting how the negotiators from all 11 of these countries can together to “reach a balanced outcome that maintains the significant benefits of the TPP” and maintaining its “core elements” with only “a limited set of provisions… suspended” while ensuring “the commercial and other interests of all participants and preserving our inherent right to regulate, including the flexibility of the parties to set legislative and regulatory priorities.” This is coupled with the firm commitment of all members to “open markets, to combating protectionism and to advancing regional economic integration” and side letters, as necessary, to realistically engage in form of protectionism for certain countries.

The following month, there were a number of other declarations. One addressed the “evolving practice of investor state dispute settlement (ISDS),” which will be explained fully in the next section of this article, while reaffirming “the right of each Party to regulate within its territory to achieve legitimate policy objectives” and work to “promote transparent conduct rules on the ethical responsibilities of arbitrators in ISDS procedures, including conflict of interest rules.” Another claimed that varied countries are working to “help make international trade policies more progressive and inclusive” while saying at the same time that SMEs (Small and medium-sized enterprises) should have an an improved environment to increase their profit margins, benefiting a petty bourgeoisie. The same sentiment was expressed later on, with all the negotiators declaring that the agreement will “strengthen the mutually-beneficial linkages among our economies, boost trade, investment and economic growth in the Asia-Pacific region, and create new opportunities for businesses, consumers, families, farmers and workers” while it would undoubtedly benefit the bourgeoisie (“businesses”) and their lackeys, not the populace (workers, farmers, families, and “consumers”). The latter is evident by the statement of the Minister of International Trade for Canada, François-Philippe Champagne, who said during the signing ceremony in Chile that “Canadian workers, producers, farmers, entrepreneurs and businesses of all sizes will benefit from the CPTPP, which will diversify our export‎ markets, strengthen our ties with the Asia-Pacific region and create good jobs at home… The CPTPP will expand Canada’s market access and allow Canadian businesses to seize key opportunities in a burgeoning region.” While this agreement will obviously not benefit workers or farmers, it will benefit bourgeoisie of all types (“producers… entrepreneurs and businesses”) within Canada itself, with new markets available for further exploitation, enriching the pockets of the Canadian bourgeoisie.

The statement made in Chile shows the real nature of the CPTPP. The seven articles and annex agreed to by the delegations from 11 countries, in order to “open markets, increasing world trade, and creating new economic opportunities for people of all incomes and economic backgrounds… further regional economic integration,” accelerate “regional trade liberalisation and investment,” as declared in the preamble which makes it seem it will benefit the masses even though it won’t, as it is about “enhanced market access to key Asian markets,” especially for those not in Asia, creating a “massive trade bloc.” This statement also declares that most of the TPP will be part of the CPTPP (Article 1), that once the CPTPP is enacted, then the “Parties shall suspend the application of the provisions set out in the Annex to this Agreement” although these provisions can come back if 11 countries agree to stop suspending them (Article 2) and that any other state “or separate customs territory may accede to this Agreement” (Article 5). This short statement also says that parties can, on the request of one member of the agreement, “review the operation of this Agreement so as to consider any amendment to this Agreement and any related matters” (Article 6), while the agreement shall be printed in English, Spanish and French with, if there is any “divergence between those texts,” then the “English text shall prevail” (Article 7), with an attached “annex, noting all provisions that had been suspended.” If that isn’t enough, there are 37 side letters for Canada (6 for Australia, 1 for Brunei, 4 for Chile, 3 for Japan, 5 for Malaysia, 3 for Mexico, 3 for New Zealand, 3 for Peru, 1 for Singapore, and 8 for Vietnam), to address culture, motor vehicles, beef production, liquor, electronic payment services, forestry, dairy and food processing, in order to ensure that the agreement serves the interests of the Canadian bourgeoisie and basically engages in some form of protectionism! This is despite the declarations time and time again, that the CPTPP is opposed to protectionism, especially that practiced by the U$, while acknowledging the reality, that the agreement streamlines “trade and [slashes] tariffs” and has supposed “progressive” measures on the environment and labor rights, with “fair trade, free markets and multilateralism,” to ameliorate opposition from the masses.[2] For Canada, at least, it is questionable how much the government cares about the environment, due to protests against the Kinder Morgan pipeline, to give one example, meaning that such “progressive” measures are just be on paper, not having any effect on reality within the countries themselves.

At the present, varied spokespersons for the Canadian bourgeoisie have voiced their support, since the agreement would reportedly improve “market access for Canadian businesses” and stands against the supposed “mayhem” of “anti-globalization” activists, as described by the scowling bourgeoisie. Those in support of the CPTPP include the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (petty bourgeoisie), Forest Products Association of Canada, Canadian Pork Council, Council of Canadian Innovators, Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, and Quebec Hog Producers (Éleveurs de porcs du Québec), all of which are salivating for new markets, especially the “Japanese market.”[3] Additionally, the Canada Agri-Food Trade Alliance (CAFTA), Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association of Canada, Alberta Wheat Commission, Canola Council of Canada, Canadian Canola Growers Association (CCGA), Grain Growers of Canada, Canadian Meat Council, and Business Council of Canada are in support. Others are not so sure, like key companies in Canada’s auto and steel industry (Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association, Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers Association, and Canadian Steel Producers Association) worrying that this should not be negotiated while NAFTA is being renegotiated with the U$ and Mexico, and Dairy Farmers of Canada (DC), and dairy industry in general, whom are raising alarm that this agreement will undercut their industry and their profit margins. The latter grumbled that Canada is giving away too many “market concessions of the Canadian dairy market” in this agreement (and others like CETA or even NAFTA), that the Canadian government is threatening “regional food security” and that the Canadian government continues to “carve out pieces of our domestic dairy market… putting the Canadian dairy sector in jeopardy,” with a message to the Canadian government that there should be “no more concessions.”[4] This shows that not all the bourgeoisie were satisfied, but enough were that such industries likely helped craft the agreement itself as they would have been among the hundreds of corporate “advisers” participating in discussions and formulation of the agreement. This should be no surprise as the agreement has a focus on eliminating “trade barriers” which would create more profit, with “new” markets, for the bourgeoisie.

The same is the case for the Australian bourgeoisie, whom have been promised a benefit by the Australian government itself. Specifically, even with the “rules around intellectual property” and other “controversial ones” removed from the agreement, the exporters of beef and kiwi fruit would reportedly benefit from the agreement.[5] Additionally, those from the Australian sheep and goat meat industries endorsed the agreement, such as the Red Meat Advisory Council, with some saying that “Peru represents a new market opportunity for Australian red meat” and that the agreement is a “significant milestone for the Australian red meat industry” which was echoed by the National Farmers’ Foundation, which praised the “wins” for Australian agriculture. The Minerals Council of Australia, which represents mining companies, endorsed the agreement. Even so, the imperialist outlet which masquerades as “progressive,” The Guardian, even had to acknowledge that “the boost to Australia’s economy” will be “very small” and, of the 11 countries involved in the agreement, “Australia will receive the smallest increase in national income” with a fairly small opportunity for “growth.”[6] For New Zealand, on the other hand, one bourgeois analyst wrote that “the reaction from the business community appears to be muted elation… given that the new Prime Minister appears to be delivering what the business community wants, there is little sense adding pressure on her by bragging about it.”

Apart from the bourgeoisie of Canada and Australia, there are those of Chile, Vietnam, Japan (which has scrambled to keep the deal alive), Malaysia (with many private firms claimed to get “benefits” but those who will truly benefit are banks and property agents for one), Brunei, Mexico, Peru, and Singapore. Those who favor the agreement declare that it would increase exports among the agreement’s partners by 2.43%, but only expand total exports of these partners to the world by 0.23% and only raise the GDP of this trade bloc by 0.074%.[7] So in that way, the agreement has little impact. However, apart from this agreement benefiting the Canadian bourgeoisie because Canadian agribusiness, especially in beef, fruit, pork, and poultry, does not need to compete with the U$ in the markets of other members, the bourgeoisie of Singapore, would gain a “preferential position in Asian markets” while the bourgeoisie of Vietnam and Japan would still benefit, but have less gains than under the original agreement because they “stood to gain the most in the U.S. market.” As the U$ bourgeoisie would suffer since they would be excluded from the possible “benefits” of the agreement, the complex and differentiated schedules of the CPTPP would lead to effects which aren’t known. The Vietnamese bourgeoisie would gain not through “enhanced access to the U.S. market,” eliminated due to U$ withdrawal from the TPP, but from “intra-TPP exports” in sectors such as “machinery and equipment… leather products… beef… processed foods… and fruit and vegetables,” with claimed benefits to “higher-skilled workers” in the country. As for the Mexicans, their bourgeoisie would benefit from further ties with Canada, with the same being the case in Japan, where Canada would gain “largely equal access” to the markets of Malaysia, Vietnam, and Japan, while “the U.S. would be the odd man out.” In terms of Canada, the biggest gain for their bourgeoisie would be the access to the Japanese market “ahead of the U.S.” on terms they could, apparently, not get in bilateral negotiation.

The media of Vietnam talked a bit about the reported benefits of this agreement. One publication noted that Vietnam was standing against “growing protectionism and isolationism,” quoting the Minister of Industry and Trade, Tran Tuan Anh, as saying that this demonstrates that Vietnam is resolutely and consistently implementing the guidelines of the Vietnamese Communist Party (VCP), and the State’s policies “in facilitating proactive and extensive integration.”[8] The article went onto say that with this agreement, Vietnam will be able to have a “rule-of-law state and an economy with increasing competitiveness… following the principles of the market economy,” helping Vietnam go to a new and “higher level in the new markets, as well as in the potential markets.” The article ended by quoting Tran Tuan Anh again, noting that the government will outline an “action programme” to domestically institute the integration commitments of the CPTPP, with the business community’s role in “accessing the contents, requirements, opportunities, and challenges” posed by the agreement highlighted while institutional mechanisms to monitor, facilitate and inspect the CPTPP’s implementation will be put in place. Another article in Vietnamese media said that the agreement will fight against “protectionism and trade warfare” by reducing tariffs but gave no other specifics.[9] Furthermore, the Ha Cong Tuan, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, declared in May 2016 that “Viet Nam needs to take advantage of opportunities, and overcome challenges to develop agriculture when participating in the Trans-Pacific Partnership,” adding that while “Viet Nam lags behind the remaining 11 countries in terms of production level and market” the Vietnamese government has “maintained the consistent principle of ensuring national interests in disadvantaged fields of production level and competitiveness.” He added, in the same statement, that with the agreement

Viet Nam will be more flexible and better restructuring export and import market of agricultural sector… When TPP takes effect, most of agricultural export taxes will be reduced to 0%, or are maintained at a low tax rate…Viet Nam’s advantages are very large compared to countries with similar production conditions… [the] TPP will be the driving force and the requirements to promote agricultural restructuring faster and more efficiently… TPP should be viewed as an economic leverage to explore and apply the breakthrough development solutions. Agriculture needs to capture fast, timely turn TPP opportunities into practical effect… [the] TPP offers an opportunity to reduce tariffs for all partners, leading to flows of imports… in order to effectively adapt to the TPP, while the TPP has not been officially approved by Member States, in the immediate future, it is necessary to early publicize basic knowledge and the provisions of TPP for people as well as local firms, especially on challenges and advantages, tariff reduction schedules, opening of markets, review to harmonize the provisions of domestic laws with TPP, continue to concentrate on restructuring program aimed at improving the efficiency of agriculture, competitiveness and developing the supply chain of agricultural products

Taking this into account, it would mean that Vietnam would continue to use market measures, moving away from the supposed “socialist road” they claim to be on, but are not in reality. In March 2017, Nguyen Xuan Thang argued these measures are necessary because “in the mid-1980s of the 20th century, Vietnam faced serious difficulties” saying that the country’s “centrally-planned, bureaucratic and subsidized economic mechanism annulled development motivation” with the country isolated, leading the country to, in 1986, initiate “a comprehensive renovation of the country which advocated “joining international division of labor,” “expanding economic and scientific-technical relations” with other countries.” As such, the country reached “reached agreements with economic institutions at all levels, including new generation free trade agreements (FTA)” like the CPTPP and the Vietnam-European Union Free Trade Agreement (VEFTA). They further claim that this shows “Vietnam’s proactive and positive efforts to accelerate the process of in-depth and extensive international economic integration” and that these agreements “have caused powerful impact on Vietnam’s independence, and self-reliance” while admitting that “the decision to join new generation [of] FTAs is a shift as well as a new challenge for Vietnam’s economy.” This is even the case as the country implements many of the measures instituted by the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), as noted by Pham Binh Minh, Member of the Politburo, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, in March 2016.

Some investment analysts, focusing on East Asia, had some similar arguments, saying that the “CPTPP will lead to an increase of 1.32 percent in Vietnam’s GDP, much less than 6.7 percent as predicted under the TPP” and that the “CPTPP will lead to numerous institutional reforms such as labor reforms leading to an easier and faster integration into the global supply chains” with the agreement also pushing Vietnam to improve regulations, introduce “administrative reforms,” and invest further “in innovation to remain competitive.”[10] Again, this is capitalistic thinking and orthodoxy without question, showing that the revisionists (and yes, “Eurocentric leftists” are undoubtedly “the true revisionists, erasing very clear statements by the thinkers and revolutionaries they apparently follow, in order to avoid the uncomfortable truth that they take part in the oppression of workers in the Third World”) have gone against the original aims of the revolution in Vietnam. Le Dinh Quang of the Vietnam Labor Federation can only say that “that [the affects of CPTPP] is a very big challenge for us, but due to the national benefits and the integration with the world, and also the rights and benefits of labor, we have to find solutions” instead of working to remove the country from the agreement altogether, with the revisionist Vietnamese government willing to join others in a “determination to open the market”![11] This connects with the supposed role of Vietnam as “one of the most successful and influential members of ASEAN.”

Clearly, the VCP is leading the country away from their founding ideals. This is not a “betrayal” as that would fall into the “Western trope” that those like Roland Boer of Stalin’s Moustache argue is used in “European-derived, or North Atlantic… approaches to communism,” who say at some point that “a communist revolution was betrayed by someone, betrayed itself, ran into the mud, ‘failed’.” For one, in the Vietnamese 1945 declaration of independence, it was states that the “whole Vietnamese people, animated by a common purpose, are determined to fight to the bitter end against any attempt by the French colonialists to reconquer their country… The entire Vietnamese people are determined to mobilise all their physical and mental strength, to sacrifice their lives and property in order to safeguard their independence and liberty.” Signing this agreement, and ultimately ratifying it, would stand against these principles, showing the country has kneeled before the capitalist poles of power, showing they have no intention of making Vietnam socialist anytime soon. Additionally, the country will not be following the words of the hard-fought revolutionary, Ho Chi Minh, called “Uncle Ho” in a positive manner by the Vietnamese and by Pete Seeger in a song titled “Teacher Uncle Ho,” which is why it is used throughout the rest of this article. He wrote in 1952 that the Vietnamese path is “enlightened by the great Marxist-Leninist doctrine.” Rather, they are mixing “Marxist wording” with the language spoken freely by the global bourgeoisie in an attempt to seize and suck dry any market they find. Signing this agreement is a saddening day for Vietnam and gloomy for the Vietnamese people. Even if the Vietnamese thought signing this agreement was worth the risks, it is not in any way, shape or form as it is not a “victory for reason” as the Japan Times declared, but is rather a victory for the bourgeoisie.

The ISDS system: giving corporations extra-legal rights

In an overall sense, the agreement, more than a reported “victory for trade liberalisation,” has not changed much from the “old” to the “new.”[12] A bourgeois analyst favoring U$ imperialism writes that “most of the original TPP text remains intact, and two-thirds of the CPTPP’s 30 chapters are identical to TPP” with only 22 provisions from the original TPP “suspended or otherwise changed,” focusing on areas which were priorities for the U$. The most significant changes were in the “investment and intellectual property (IP) chapters,” including the removal of “longer patent periods for innovative medicines” which this bourgeois analyst decried a “blow to U.S. pharmaceutical companies” with shorter copyright protection periods deviating “from the American standard.” Others said that articles “related to intellectual property rights, such as patentable subject matter, test data protection, biologics, copyright terms of protection, and technological protection measures” were suspended, with 11 of the suspended provisions “related to IP” with the Google-funded group (which is part of Google’s “Policy Fellowship program”), the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), and Doctors Without Borders, funded by wealthy benefactors, having some qualms. The former said that the CPTPP has a strong investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) process allowing “multinational companies to challenge any new law or government action” and that “the TPP was, and remains, a bad model for Internet regulation.” Neither organization has openly opposed the agreement as they had before, likely because of no U$ participation.

As some gloat about the “initiative” of Canada, the fact is this should not praised as the agreement, even as it “limits” the ISDS, the IP (“intellectual property”) chapter is still strong, protecting “companies operating abroad from having their innovations stolen” (i.e. helping the bourgeoisie protect their property). Other  chapters on state-owned enterprises (SOEs), e-commerce, and government procurement are not changed. Some call the agreement a “meaningless rebrand” since “access to markets agreed under the original deal is apparently unchanged” and changes to the agreement were “minor tweaks” since the “the IP-related clauses were US-driven.”[13] Strong protection for investors remains, as do restrictions on SOEs, clauses that have “negative effects such as higher costs for medicines, educational materials and farm inputs,” and other onerous provisions. Still, with this “new” agreement, the ISDS is, as one analyst put it, “what really matters” in the agreement itself.

In order to show the true nature of the agreement, it is worth looking it as a whole, part by part, with much of the CPTPP put in a PDF which is 688 pages long, which I’ve assembled, with some comments on certain pages, mainly to indicate those provisions which were suspended. Of course, this is not the whole length of the agreement, but it includes the most pertinent parts. This section of the article will look at the ISDS provisions in the agreement, and the next section will focus on the rest of the agreement.

Despite recent claims, ISDS is strong within this agreement, especially in Chapter 28, titled “Dispute Settlement.” Disputes cover instances where an “actual or proposed measure of another Party” is claimed to be inconsistent with an obligation of the CPTPP,  “interpretation or application of this Agreement,” and a Party (“any State or separate customs territory for which this Agreement [CPTPP] is in force”), on behalf of their bourgeoisie, claiming that a reasonable benefit, such as “market access to goods… rules of origin…textile and apparel goods… customs administration… technical barriers to trade…cross-border trade in services… or government procurement” is impaired or nullified by a measure of another party.[14] The panel, for which each country is obligated to provide “administrative assistance,” is composed of three members. One is appointed by the complaint (party filing complaint and requesting establishment of the panel), the other is appointed by the respondent (party which has “been complained against”), with the chair appointed by a person agreeable to both sides, with provisions in place if any on the panel are disliked by one side or the other. Broadly, the panelists have to be in the legal profession, since they need “expertise or experience in law, international trade… or the resolution of disputes” arising from “international trade agreements” and are, on the face, chosen “on the basis of objectivity, reliability and sound judgment” and are said to be “independent of, and not affiliated with or take instructions from, any Party.”[14] However, countries will likely pick panelists they know will argue in their favor. As for the chair of the panel, a roster will be created 120 days after the CPTPP goes into force, consisting of “at least 15 individuals, unless the Parties agree otherwise” with those who are parties to the agreement appointing “individuals to the roster by consensus.” The panel itself will, in paper, work to make an “objective assessment of the matter before it,” making the necessary “findings, determinations and recommendations” in order to “resolve” the dispute while not diminishing “rights and obligations” under other agreements. Additionally, the panel will make it “decisions by consensus” or, if that is not possible, by a “majority vote,” following established “rules of procedure.” Additionally, other groups, so-called “third parties,” can, after telling those involved in the dispute, “attend all hearings, make written submissions, present views orally to the panel, and receive written submissions.” Additionally, the panel, or a certain party, can “seek information and technical advice from any person or body that it deems appropriate.” While these provisions create openings for NGOs, which are mostly bourgeois in nature, and citizens groups, they would also create openings for corporate-friendly groups to distort a panel to benefit them. Furthermore, this panel’s work may be suspended at the request of the complaint(s) for a period of up to 12 months or be completely terminated.

The draft report of this panel, which will be put together “without the presence of any Party,” will make the “recommendations for the resolution of the dispute” and the final report will be presented 30 days later. The latter report is obligated to be presented to the public within 15 days, with no party disclosing which panelists were “associated with majority or minority opinions.”[16] Again, the secretive nature of the ISDS process is preserved to the detriment of the masses. From here, the parties involved in the decision will work to comply with the panel’s decision, because, otherwise, untold “benefits,” equivalent to the “non-conformity, or nullification or impairment” of a certain measure, can be suspended, with a monetary assessment from the panel’s decision either paid in U$ dollars or in another currency for months to come. At the same time, each party is required to ensure “observance of agreements to arbitrate and for the recognition and enforcement of arbitral awards in such disputes.”

For all this to happen, those who have a dispute need to engage in “other means of alternative dispute resolution” to settle their disputes, and cannot bring a claim on the grounds that a measure violates a party’s “obligations under this Agreement” with parties aiming to “arrive at a mutually satisfactory resolution of any matter that might affect its operation or application.”[17] Additionally, the complaint can “select the forum in which to settle the dispute” and parties can request “consultations with any other Party” with such consultations “confidential” or “secret.” At the same time, after six months of the agreement in force, WTO members can “initiate non-violation nullification or impairment complaints under Article 64 of the TRIPS Agreement.”

It is worth recognizing the full ramifications of the ISDS process. In one of the few criticisms in a Western publication I could find, a writer, Stephen Lendman, describes the agreement as “NAFTA on steroids, a stealth corporate coup d’etat, a giveaway to corporate predators,” saying that “corporate predators and lobbyists” wrote the agreement, and describing that the ISDS allows corporate predators, as represented by their governments, to “sue [other] governments before a rigged panel of three corporate lawyers for virtually unlimited compensation from taxpayers on what they claim violates their rights – including alleged loss of “expected future profits”” with these rulings “not subject to appeal.” This is evident in chapter 9 of the CPP when the term “investment” is defined:

every asset that an investor owns or controls, directly or indirectly, that has the characteristics of an investment, including such characteristics as the commitment of capital or other resources, the expectation of gain or profit, or the assumption of risk. Forms that an investment may take include… an enterprise….shares, stock and other forms of equity participation in an enterprise…bonds, debentures, other debt instruments and loans… futures, options and other derivatives

While the latter definition was shortened in the changes made from the TPP to CPTPP, much of the language remains, meaning that those who use the ISDS process, whether countries or investors, under the agreement, still have a wide latitude to sue any of the 11 states who are part of the agreement!

The ISDS process, as should be recognized, is a norm in the vast network of international investment and trade rules, with most of the world tied up in this process, except for People’s Korea, Cuba, Brazil, Libya, Guyana, Suriname, Iran, Eritrea, India, Kyrgyz Republic, Nepal, Myanmar, Laos, Poland, Western Sahara, and Equatorial Guinea, along with a host of other small island nations. There are also three countries which withdrew from this horrid process in the 21st century: Bolivia (2007), Ecuador (2009), and Venezuela (2012). Obviously the the ISDS system serves the bourgeoisie. Not only are the proceedings secret, and even the decisions, but the threats “uttered in private meetings or ominous letters” which lead to these courts (or panels) are powerful enough that they “often eliminate the need to actually bring a lawsuit.” Over the years, corporations have turned the threat of ISDS action into a “fearsome weapon” to make countries give “into their demands,” going past the original purpose, which was to serve as “a forum in which to resolve conflicts between countries and the foreign companies that do business within their borders.”[18] Instead, countries are put at a disadvantage, with companies/investors, as represented by governments in the case of the CPTPP, the only ones that can bring suits, as countries cannot sue the companies, with arbitrators drawn from “the same highly paid corporate lawyers who argue ISDS cases” with these individuals having broad “authority to interpret the rules however they want, without regard to precedent and with almost no public oversight” and their decisions having “extraordinary power.” Often countries are obligated to follow the ISDS judgments as if they “came from their own highest courts” but there is “no meaningful appeal” or check on the court’s power!

The Australian Fair Trade Network added that ISDS has created concepts such as “”indirect” expropriation” which allows “foreign investors to sue governments for millions and even billions of dollars of damages or compensation if they can argue that a change in law or policy has “harmed” their investment” with cases lasting “for 3 to 5 years” with the average cost being “US$8 million per case, with some cases costing up to US$30 million.” Additionally, the ISDS is a system which is “enormously costly” and gives “increased legal rights to global corporations which already have enormous market power,” which is not available to domestic investors. This is the case for the ISDS system in the CPTPP where, as the provisions summarized earlier attest, the proceedings are secret and not open to the public, even though the rulings themselves will hurt the masses, showing the elitist nature of such a system!

There are additional horrid elements to the ISDS. A May 2013 study by UNCTAD (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development) concluded that in 2012, of the new cases initiated, about two-thirds of “respondents are developing or transition economies” while a similar amount of these cases originating “from developed countries” with claimants challenging “broad range of government measures” with, a supermajority of the decisions, available publicly, accepting the claims of the investor, “at least in part.” The study goes on for 35 more pages, but these highlights show the horrid nature of the system. The “progressive” publication, The Guardian wrote about this system as well, noting that the “increasingly powerful field of international law” is one where “foreign investors can sue governments in a network of tribunals for billions of dollars.”[19] They highlighted the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) in Washington, D.C., which is part of the World Bank, noting that investors have used the system “to sue for compensation for alleged expropriation of land and factories, but also over a huge range of government measures, including environmental and social regulations, which they say infringe on their rights.” This article also notes that the World Bank proposed the idea of ISDS back in the 1964, creating a ICSID Convention.

The U$ Trade Representative (USTR), on a dated page, declares that the ISDS creates a “neutral and impartial process to resolve conflicts between countries and foreign investors,” looking to resolve “investment conflicts… protect citizens abroad” and give a “signal to potential investors that the rule of law will be respected.” They then call the system “peaceful,” “fair,” and “extremely limited,” but they admit that it is designed to designed to protect investors (they say “American” but it could apply to any investor) “abroad from discrimination and denial of justice,” making sure that they “will not be treated less favorably than local investors or competitors from other countries… that property of… investors won’t be seized by the government without just compensation… [that] investors will not be denied justice in criminal, civil, or administrative adjudicatory proceedings… that investors will be able to move capital relating to their investments freely, subject to safeguards to provide government flexibility.”[20] There has been strong criticism of these “shadow courts” (as one book called it) with a backlash leading German magistrates to denounce such a system as illegal, even as the EU Commission defended it, and the European Parliament voting in favor of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), but not ratifying it, only on the condition that the ISDS “mechanism be replaced by another system,” which seems unlikely for the TTIP. At the present-time, the “15 rounds of… negotiations” on TTIP “were stopped without conclusion at the end of 2016, following the change of Administration in Washington” and negotiations seem that they will not resume any time soon.

In order to recognize the effect of the ISDS system within the CPTPP, I searched for the word “dispute.” There were numerous instances in which it doesn’t apply.[21] Even so, the ISDS system does apply to at least 15 issues and situations:

  1. measures for controlling plant diseases of agricultural crops under certain conditions
  2. approval or registration of pharmaceutical products
  3. approval or registration of cosmetic products
  4. approval or registration of medical devices
  5. a general “investment dispute,” with the final award of the tribunal including either (or both) monetary damages and any applicable interest; and… restitution of property” with the tribunal even awarding “costs and attorney’s fees incurred by the disputing parties in connection with the arbitral proceeding”!
  6. cross-border trade in services
  7. professional services or delivery services
  8. financial services, with certain requirements, with panelists required to have “expertise or experience in financial services law or practice” which may include financial regulation
  9. a “regulation or supervision of financial institutions, markets or instruments”
  10. refusal to grant temporary entry of business persons
  11. state-owned enterprises and “designated monopolies” of each party, but not certain enterprises owned by the Malaysian government
  12. labor rights and laborers
  13. environmental issues and general “environmental laws”
  14. an obligation relating to anti-corruption measures, “in a manner affecting trade or investment between Parties” (but not applicable to other situations)
  15. taxation measures, including excise duties, but not custom duties, after “the expiry of the six-month period, or any other period as may have been agreed”

Looking at all of this, it is clear that those criticizing the agreement are right. The ISDS gives “extra rights” to certain “elite foreign investors,” to whom it cedes state sovereignty, favors powerful corporations, with the system issuing “secret rulings not bound by precedent or subject to appeal.”[22]

The supposed “limits” on the ISDS under the CPTPP is another joke. As the Council of Canadians put it, the “publicly stated commitments to the environment, gender, cultural identity, Indigenous rights, and labour rights chapters are only mentioned in the preamble of the agreement” meaning that that they are “only decorative, not enforceable.”  Those in Japan, who were critical of the original TPP and are undoubtedly critical of the CPTPP, are right that the ISDS provisions will allow “corporations to sue governments… [bringing] about an unreasonable loss to… national governments [and]… local governments in regard to their administration and maintenance of public services,” forcing local government to not give “preferential treatments to local businesses in the bidding process” for public works because they will “face a lawsuit for unfair treatment.” Additionally, this agreement will undoubtedly serve “the interests of multinational corporations” with the ISDS impairing “the state function of providing welfare services to its citizens” It will, as Anna Pha of the Australian Communist Party put it, enshrine the “rights of foreign investors over those of governments and people,” having no provision allowing  governments to “sue foreign corporations” will lead to widespread deregulation. The ISDS will also “allow foreign firms to challenge policies that apply to domestic and foreign firms alike… lock in any weakening of regulation… [and] override the government’s sovereign powers and responsibility to legislate in the interests of its people, its economy and environment.”

For all those countries that are parties to this agreement, and any others which allow for the ISDS to flourish, the masses should recall the words of Uncle Ho in 1923, which undoubtedly applies to the Vietnamese revisionists: “the oppressed people of all countries ought to know on which side their true brothers are, and on which side their enemy.”

Chapter by chapter: expanded “rights” for the bourgeoisie

Any so-called “progressiveness” in the agreement is a ruse. Take for example, the Mexican bourgeoisie who have, and will, use “populism” to battle against other “class rivals” with the Mexican state, as has been done in the past, will assist, stimulate, and complement private capital, in a system with U$ capital wielding considerable influence,  which is favored by the country’s bourgeoisie.[23] This is the case even as the state acts like it has a “Mexican and independent character” rather an “IMF-dictated and dependent character,” which is the reality. A similar dynamic is also present in Japan which has never been a “revolutionary country” with active social movements, especially among students, even as a “mass-consumer society” has developed in Japan.[24] After all, in the propagandist preamble of the statement made in Chile, the goals of the CPTPP agreement are clear: “economic integration to liberalise trade and investment,” strengthened “competitiveness of their businesses in global markets… promoting opportunities for businesses… [supporting]… growth and development of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises by enhancing their ability to participate in and benefit from the opportunities created by this Agreement… [affirming] that state-owned enterprises can play a legitimate role in the diverse economies of the Parties, while recognising that the provision of unfair advantages to state-owned enterprises undermines fair and open trade and investment” and a number of other so-called “progressive” claims.

This brings us to the other chapters of the CPTPP. When the word “country,” “domestic,” “foreign,” “party,” or “country is used in this section, it refers to those who are currently signatories of the CPTPP. Chapter 1, which establishes a “free trade area” under the agreement and brings it into compliance with other neoliberal agreements, along with providing definitions of varied terms, and chapter 28 which focuses on the ISDS. However, Chapter 2 is different. It states that each party will give goods of party to the agreement, “treatment no less favourable than the most favourable treatment” that is given to “directly competitive or substitutable goods” of another country, setting up an “even” playing field where customs duties are eliminated.[25] Even “entry to commercial samples of negligible value and printed advertising material” from another party is allowed to enter any other member country without restriction, with the same applying to “professional equipment… goods intended for display or demonstration… commercial samples… [and] goods admitted for sports purposes.” Broadly, any “good of another Party or on the exportation or sale for export of any good destined for the territory of another Party,” including re-manufactured goods, cannot be prohibited from entry.[26] This would seem to eliminate all tariffs, except countries can impose a “duty, tax or charge” on a “good when destined for domestic consumption” or the application of an “export prohibition or restriction… to prevent or relieve a critical shortage of foodstuffs.” There is no doubt that the more “developed” bourgeoisie in Japan, Canada, Australia, and Mexico will have an advantage in this situation, allowing them to push more products into the markets of Chile, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, Peru, New Zealand, and Singapore! Of course, this evident advantage is not stated in the agreement itself, with the Committee on Trade in Goods, which would meet at least once a year, working to resolve disputes by “… addressing barriers to trade in goods between the Parties” and making sure trade between parties to the agreement is “harmonized,” to name a few aspects.[27] This is connected to prohibition of “export subsidies for agricultural goods” in order to protect their domestic industries, the Committee on Agricultural Trade, which functions similar to the committee previously mentioned, efforts which leave the door for “modern biotechnology” which is code for genetically-modified-organisms or GMOs, and varied other special provisions for some of the parties, with tariff reductions specified in trade schedules for each country which stretch on for hundreds, if not over 1,000, pages![28]

This focus on tariffs brings us to the words of Karl Marx and Frederich Engels. The idea of “free trade” was debated by Marx and Engels in the 1840s, saying that they are for free trade because it will act on a large scale, unite the contradictions together, leading to a united enemy, with a struggle that will “eventuate in the emancipation of the proletarians.” Even so, Marx and Engels wrote in the Communist Manifesto that the bourgeoisie has “set up that single, unconscionable freedom” called free trade, which is, in one term (they say “word” but they really mean “term”), “for exploitation, veiled by religious and political illusions, it has substituted naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation.”[29] They would clarify the same year, 1848, in a joint publication on free trade, saying that under its present condition it is “freedom of capital” and when a “few national barriers which still restrict the progress of capital” are eliminated, it is given “complete freedom of action” but that the protectionism of the day was “conservative, while the free trade system is destructive” since the latter “breaks up old nationalities and pushes the antagonism of the proletariat and the bourgeoisie to the extreme point” and as such “hastens the social revolution.” Engels said the same one year before, adding that the bourgeoisie has “two different views… with regard to industry and trade” once of which is protectionist, favoring “differential tariffs” and the other which opposes such restrictions, the latter whom see free trade as a “means by which France can be saved from a devastating war between the workers and the bourgeois,” a measure to ameliorate class conflict. While they felt, at the time, that “free trade” could be positive, in the sense that it leads the world closer to social revolution, it doesn’t mean that the same approach should be taken today, not in the slightest.

Even with this, as one should not have to point out, but is obvious, Marx and Engels would strongly oppose any “free trade” agreement. The idea of “free trade” then, when they were writing, is different than what is proposed now. Still, their broad ideas still apply today. It is still freedom for capital to expand across the globe, which was, like the English imperialists did in the 19th century, forced upon “possible customers abroad” while keeping in place trade monopolies, with free trade, as Marx saw it, as the “normal condition of modern capitalist production” with protectionism not an easily workable strategy, as other industries are hurt. As Engels said in 1888, writing that “free trade has become a necessity for the industrial capitalists,” protectionism will become “an unbearable shackle to any country aspiring, with a chance of success, to hold its own in the world market,” which has a  degree of validity, depending on the situation from country to country. The latter has been twisted into agreements such as the GATT and the founding document of the WTO to promote neoliberalism which is not its own ideology, but is just part and parcel of capitalism itself.

Then we get to chapter 3 of the CPTPP. First, terms like “originating goods” (those “obtained or produced entirely,” “produced entirely” or “produced entirely… using non-originating materials”) and “wholly obtained or produced goods” are defined, with the latter encompassing plants, live animals, aquaculture, “mineral or other naturally occurring substance,” a “fish, shellfish and other marine life,” a “waste or scrap derived from production” or goods of any other type.[30] Additionally, materials used in production are “handled” with their “value” determined by varied requirements, with specific rules of origin. This will, of course, help determine tariff rates, and connects to intra-CPTPP trade after the agreement is in force, with importers, under certain restrictions, allowed to “make a claim for preferential tariff treatment.”[31] Parties to the agreement can also “establish or maintain appropriate penalties for violations of its laws and regulations,” relating to trade, if they deem it necessary, with disputes over trade between the countries and information collected being secret, meaning it is not available, openly, to the public.

Chapter 4 focuses on a different area: textiles and apparel goods. Under this chapter, parties are obligated to match their trading practices, classifying what category these goods all under, allowing varied tariffs to be imposed.[32] Specifically, only “hand-loomed fabrics… hand-printed fabrics… hand-made cottage industry goods… traditional folklore handicraft goods” can be classified as “duty-free” (no tariffs) or have “preferential tariff treatment” but other textiles and apparel goods cannot. At the same time, a country can punish another if a “textile or apparel good” privileged under this agreement, is imported into another country, causing “serious damage, or actual threat… to a domestic industry producing a like or directly competitive good.”[33] They can, specifically, impose an increased customs duty on the exporter, with certain requirements for determining the qualifications for how “serious damage” or an “actual threat” is determined. Even parties, if in dispute, can verify if a “textile or apparel good… qualifies for preferential tariff treatment” through varied procedures or a “site visit,” but this likely would not go well if the dispute causes differing bourgeoisie to fight each other, with the country importing goods having the right to “deny a claim for preferential tariff treatment for a textile or apparel good” on certain grounds.[34] Again, the disputes are secret and not revealed to the public.

Chapter 5 is different, but related, focusing on customs administration and trade facilitation. While the parties pledge to conduct their customs procedures in a “predictable, consistent and transparent” (and automated) manner, cooperating together, they can deny the import or export of a certain good, which is “reviewed” but there does not seem to be any appeal process.[35] As such, if the bourgeoisie of one country doesn’t like the bourgeoisie of another country, the government of the first country could unilaterally bar the importation of a certain good, which would hurt the industry of the other country, which is exporting the good itself. There can also be penalties imposed by the importer for violating “customs laws, regulations or procedural requirements” which can be broadly defined, again privileging one country over another.[36] Apart from the language dominance of English imposed on the parties, since each party is required to publish its “customs laws, regulations, and general administrative procedures and guidelines” online “in the English language,” the disputes are again secret, meaning they are not open to the public!

Chapter 6 builds upon Chapter 5, but focuses on “trade remedies” which should really be called trade penalties, as it focuses on “overall impairment” of a domestic industry (so-called “serious injury”), fact-based threat of such impairment (“threat of serious industry”), and domestic industry which is defined as producers of a “directly competitive good operating within the territory of a Party,” among other terms.[37] Parties to the agreement can impose “safeguards,” to protect their domestic industries from “attack” from imports, on a transitional and temporary basis (for up to two years). The latter satisfies the bourgeoisie in each country as they can protect their own country’s industries from “dumping” of goods by another country. Even worse, is that fact that if an agreement cannot be reached, the country importing the goods has to provide compensation to the exporting country for up to 30 days![38]

Chapter 7 goes to a different topic. It focuses on protecting “human, animal or plant life or health… while facilitating and expanding trade,” through controlling of plant diseases of agricultural crops (phytosanitary and sanitary issues), with parties working together on “recognition of pest- or disease-free areas, and areas of low pest or disease prevalence” but the measures of different countries have to be aligned, with no discrimination toward one country or another.[39] Further, differing countries would share information on these measures. What is not mentioned is that some countries have strong environmental laws, and others do not, with this including measures against pesticide use or even use of GMOs, in which case ISDS would come in, with investors of one country suing another through the panel itself! This is connected to the next chapter, chapter 8, which focuses, like others, on trade barriers. With an objective eliminate “unnecessary technical barriers to trade” made by government bodies, working to harmonize them with “international standards, guides and recommendations” even though these standards favor capitalists, with varied mechanisms to eliminate supposedly unnecessary “trade barriers” and a committee to “solve” disputes.[40] Annexes to this chapter focuses on how “wine and distilled spirits,” “information and communications technology products,” pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, medical devices, prepacked foods, “organic products,” will be exported and imported from country to country.

Following this is chapter 9 which focuses on investment. Some of it has already been mentioned before, but this chapter specifically obligates countries to give investors of an outside party equal treatment to “its own investors with respect to the establishment, acquisition, expansion, management, conduct, operation, and sale or other disposition of investments in its territory” while it also says that each country has to give “fair and equitable treatment and full protection and security” to outside investors, even compensating them in the advent of “armed conflict or civil strife”![41] Countries also are obligated to allow transfers of capital, cannot “expropriate or nationalise” an investment by a foreign investor unless it is for “a public purpose… in a non-discriminatory manner… [is] on payment of prompt, adequate and effective compensation… [and] in accordance with due process of law.” Specifically, compensation is required to be paid as soon as possible in amount which is “equivalent to the fair market value of the expropriated investment” before the expropriation. This means there cannot be any expropriations of capital, without compensation, to benefit the proletariat as has been done after the revolutions in Russia, Cuba, China, People’s Korea, and elsewhere. The chapter declares that countries can require investment activity be “undertaken in a manner sensitive to environmental, health or other regulatory objectives” or the fake idea of “corporate social responsibility” but this obviously is just a smokescreen for the further exploitation by capitalists of the struggling proletariat.[42]

Connected to many of the previous chapters is chapter 10, which focuses on cross-border trade. All parties are obligated to give “services and service suppliers of another Party” the same treatment as their “own services and service suppliers,” cannot impose measures that limit such services, which applies to, only “aircraft repair and maintenance services… selling and marketing of air transport services… computer reservation system services… specialty air services… airport operation services… [and] ground handling services.”[43] In crafting laws on such services, countries are obligated to avoid measures that “constitute unnecessary barriers to trade in services” or deny benefits to a supplier of such services, while allowing transfer of capital across border lines. This is, obviously, connected to chapter 11, which focuses on financial services which comprise “insurance and insurance-related services, and all banking and other financial services.”[44] Specifically, countries are forced to give equal treatment to “investors of another Party treatment” as it gives its own investors, “with respect to the establishment, acquisition, expansion, management, conduct, operation, and sale or other disposition of financial institutions and investments in financial institutions in its territory,” doing the same for financial institutions of another country. Countries are also prohibited from adopting or maintaining measures that impose limits on “financial institutions of another Party,” are not required to allow access to “related to the financial affairs and accounts of individual customers… [or] any [other] confidential information,” and cannot require that financial institutions “of another Party to engage natural persons of any particular nationality as senior managerial or other essential personnel” or that more than a “minority of the board of directors of a financial institution of another Party be composed of nationals of the Party.” This means that there cannot be any measure like that practiced in Zimbabwe, which was in full effect before the counter-revolution led by the army-installed president Emmerson Mnangagwa, which required that “foreign-owned companies… offer at least 51 percent of their shares to indigenous Zimbabweans.”

Business-friendly chapters continue to populate the CPTPP. Chapter 12 which focuses on entry of a foreign business person into a country in which they do “not intend to establish permanent residence” which can be regulated by a state, but their “benefits” cannot be impaired or nullified, even as their immigration can be denied if “settlement of any labour dispute” would be affected negatively by their arrival in the country.[45] In order for such entry to happen, countries are required to publish online “current requirements for temporary entry… the typical timeframe within which an application for an immigration formality is processed” while establishing varied mechanisms, and working with a committee created to solve country-to-country disputes, with some problems solved through the ISDS process. Chapter 13 is all about telecommunications, referring to “transmission and reception of signals by any electromagnetic means, including by photonic means.”[46] Countries are required, by the agreement, to “deliver a wide choice in the supply of telecommunications services and to enhance consumer welfare,” implying some level of deregulation, saying that countries can “engage in direct regulation… rely on the role of market forces… [or] use any other appropriate means that benefit the long-term interest of end-users” all of which fall within the bourgeois political realm. Countries are obligated to make sure that foreign enterprises have “access to and use of any public telecommunications service… offered in its territory or across its borders” with any service supplier permitted to “purchase or lease… terminal… that interfaces with a public telecommunications network… provide services… connect leased or owned circuits with public telecommunications networks… [and] perform switching, signalling, processing and conversion functions” and cannot impose any condition “on access to and use of public telecommunications networks and services” other than those needed to “safeguard the public service responsibilities of suppliers” or to protect “the technical integrity of public telecommunications networks or services.” If that isn’t enough, countries are further required to “ensure that suppliers of public telecommunications services” in their country can connect with “suppliers of public telecommunications services of another Party,” that the latter suppliers are “afforded access to telephone numbers on a non-discriminatory basis,” and that there be “transparent and reasonable rates for international mobile roaming services” formed while cooperating with other countries. More than that, domestic “public telecommunications services” cannot be treated more favorably than those of foreign countries, while “anti-competitive practices” are prohibited, and the “resale of any public telecommunications service” is allowed, along with other efforts to limit or restrict foreign “public telecommunications services,” with established recourse for disputes over telecommunications issues.[47] It is important to note that the term “public telecommunications services” does not mean that it is owned by the government, but rather that it is open to investors in a market, and includes “telephone and data transmission typically involving transmission of customer-supplied information between two or more defined points.”

Most importantly, for those connected to the internet is, the chapter on “electronic commerce,” chapter 14. This chapter recognizes the “economic growth and opportunities provided by electronic commerce,” meaning that it is observed how such commerce benefits the bourgeoisie of each country.[48] This is “recognized” through prohibition of “customs duties on electronic transmissions,” requiring that each country receive the same treatment on “digital products created, produced, published, contracted for, commissioned or first made available,” along with other digital products, not denying, generally, “the legal validity of a signature solely on the basis that the signature is in electronic form.” While it says that measures to “protect” customers online is important, including their personal information, it also encourages paperless trading, access to the internet for electronic commerce, transfer of information by electronic means, and addressing spam messages (“unsolicited commercial electronic messages”). Overall, with this chapter, the bourgeoisie will benefit, as chapters like this are written in such a way that only lawyers and those with specialized “knowledge” can derive the full and “accurate” interpretation. Still, one can, take up the call to arms outlined by Uncle Ho in 1951, in which he said that the Vietnamese, will, when working with the Laotians and Cambodians “overcome all difficulties and hardships, smash the aggressive French colonialists, smash the American interventionists and any other invader.” While the circumstances now are undeniably different than in 1951, the same sentiment can apply: support and unification in order to smash the foreign capitalist invaders whether it is the imperialist foot-soldiers in Okinawa or the U$ capitalists in Hanoi.

The following chapter, chapter 15, is on something different, government procurement, meaning the selecting of vendors, “establishing payment terms, strategic vetting, selection, the negotiation of contracts and actual purchasing of goods” and is concerned with, in this case, “acquiring… all of the goods, services, and work that is vital” to a government. This chapter only covers certain procurement, specifically relating to a “good, service or any combination” in a country’s annex, procuring, by contractual means something “with or without an option to buy” or an action by a “procuring entity” but does not cover “acquisition or rental of land… non-contractual agreements… sale, redemption and distribution of public debt… public employment contracts” or other types of procurement.[49] Countries are required to not apply procurement in a way that would “constitute a means of arbitrary or unjustifiable discrimination” between countries, or treat “goods and services of any other Party and to the suppliers of any other Party” any differently than their own goods and services, but can adopt measures to “protect public morals, order or safety… protect human, animal or plant life or health… protect intellectual property” or measures relating to “the good or service of a person with disabilities, of philanthropic or not-for-profit institutions, or of prison labour.” Some may think this is a bit “progressive” but clearly made-up terms like “intellectual property,” along with measures to maintain order shows its real intent: to further reinforce the position of the bourgeoisie. Even those “poorer” countries can adopt transitional measures to get to the same level as those countries which are “richer” where “conditions for participation in a covered procurement” can be limited, with the “procurement process” supposedly fair and impartial, but again, is secret from the public! This connects to chapter 16, which focuses on “competition policy,” or those policies which “proscribe anticompetitive business conduct” with countries having the right to impose a “sanction or remedy” against an investor for “violating its national competition laws”![50] The bourgeoisie are benefited, not the proletariat,as investors can seek “redress, including injunctive, monetary or other remedies” from a court or “other independent tribunal” for “injury to that person’s business or property caused by a violation of national competition laws.”

For Vietnam, especially, the next chapter, chapter 17, is damning as it focuses on state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and designated monopolies, what one could call “remnants” of socialism in Vietnam. In this agreement, SOEs refer to a commercial enterprise which is more than 50% is owned by a government, controls “more than 50 per cent of the voting rights” or holds “the power to appoint a majority of members” of the enterprise’s management body, while the designated monopolies refer to a privately or government-owned owned established, designated, or authorized as the “sole provider or purchaser of a good or service.”[51] This chapter applies to activities of SOEs and designated monopolies of a country “that [affects] trade or investment between Parties within the free trade area” making it no surprise that both of these types of entities are required, in such transactions, to follow “commercial considerations” when selling or purchasing “a good or service.” Additionally, countries must provide courts with jurisdiction against a foreign-owned SOE, with countries also required to prevent “adverse effects to… interests” or “injury to a domestic industry,” the latter meaning “material injury to a domestic industry, threat of material injury” or material deceleration of the “establishment of such an industry,” of another country, through use of “non-commercial” assistance to SOEs. Basically, this means that SOEs of foreign country “compete” evenly with those which are domestic, which dilutes the power the government can wield over an economy, especially for a state like Vietnam which claims it is serving the masses and is on the “socialist road” even though even a cursory analysis would show this is obviously not the case. The VCP leadership is not freeing themselves from foreign aggressors, which Lenin called for, and Uncle Ho echoed in 1924, but are rather collaborating with them for their own benefit.

On a related note is chapter 18, which was supposedly limited by recent changes (scattered throughout the chapter), focusing on the magical idea of “intellectual property” which covers “computer programs… cinematographic works… photographic [works]… [works] of applied art… sound recordings… [trademarks]… independently created industrial designs… protected industrial [designs]… patents… an integrated circuit” of Part 2 of the TRIPS Agreement.[52] This is bad for those who want to build a socialist culture (which would be the case in Vietnam if was not revisionist) and the proletariat in the other 10 countries as this chapter promotes “protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights” even saying that the measures a country adopts to “protect public health and nutrition, and… promote the public interest in sectors of vital importance” to “socio-economic and technological development” cannot violate rights of “intellectual property” holders, with no practices “which unreasonably restrain trade or adversely affect the international transfer of technology.” Again, these efforts will undoubtedly make the bourgeoisie smile with glee as countries are almost encouraged to “provide more extensive protection for, or enforcement of, intellectual property rights, requiring that countries ratify six agreements listed which all protect these corporate “rights,” saying that countries must provide equal treatment to all “intellectual property” holders, whether domestic or foreign, with countries cooperating on united policies keeping in place these laughable corporate “rights” to information and their trademarks. All countries are also requires to provide authors, performers and producers of phonograms… the exclusive right to authorise or prohibit all reproduction of their works, performances or phonograms in any manner or form, including in electronic form” which a very broad form of copyright which functions best in the interest of the bourgeoisie. This is coupled with judicial authorities of each country having the right to “order injunctive relief” to a holder of “intellectual property” rights or copyrights of any kind and each country having “criminal procedures and penalties to be applied” to willful “trademark counterfeiting or copyright or related rights piracy on a commercial scale” which further restricts the use of information.

Chapter 19 and 20 are the supposedly “progressive” elements of the CPTPP. Chapter 19 focuses on labor rights, saying that countries “affirm their obligations as members of the ILO… regarding labour rights within their territories” including “… recognition of the right to collective bargaining… elimination of all forms of forced or compulsory labour… effective abolition of child labour… [and] elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation” and say that it is “inappropriate to encourage trade or investment by weakening or reducing the protections afforded in each Party’s labour laws” but also admit in the same breath that no country shall move away from its labor statutes or regulations in “a manner affecting trade or investment between the Parties” showing that it is again, all about profits, as one would expect.[53] The rest of the chapter says that countries have the right to enforce (and publicly promote) labor laws, that the goal of “eliminating all forms of forced or compulsory labour” should be striven toward, that enterprises should “voluntarily adopt” the fake ideal of “corporate social responsibility” and says that there should be “collaboration” to “solve” labor disputes by “worker and employer representatives” coming together, a form of class collaboration! That is not something which will benefit the proletariat but will rather keep the bourgeoisie pleased and on their high horse, with secretive “labor consultations” which are not available to the public. In all, this whole chapter is basically PR which whitewashes how the agreement will serve capitalists without question.

The next chapter, chapter 20, is similar, talking about the environment in similar terms. It talks in high terms about “levels of environmental protection… effective enforcement of environmental laws… sustainable development… multilateral environmental agreements… the ozone layer…protecting the marine environment… [and] biodiversity,” coupled with promoting existing environmental laws of each country.[54] Yet, it is a business-friendly approach as “new, consultative mechanisms… to seek views on matters” to implement the chapter may include persons who have “experience in business, natural resource conservation and management, or other environmental matters” showing this chapter is meant to appease conservationist environmental groups, even sticking in another measure about phony “corporate environmental responsibility,” while not engaging in the necessary radical ecology needed to save the planet from global environmental catastrophe. This is evident by the fact that the agreement says that “flexible, voluntary mechanisms… [including] market-based incentive… and public-private partnerships” contributes to “high levels of environmental protection” which is so laughable, it shows that this whole chapter is a joke without any real meaning.[55] This is evident when later on in the chapter it declares that “the Parties acknowledge that transition to a low emissions economy requires collective action” while not specifying what this really means. This chapter is bourgeois conservationism at its “finest,” which isn’t that fine but benefits the bourgeoisie without question.

The final chapters of the agreement don’t say much. One chapter, chapter 21, focuses on “cooperation and capacity building activities” to help implement the agreement, and promote (and increase) intra-CPTPP trade, saying that “the involvement of the private sector is important in these activities” showing once again that the Vietnamese revisionists, along with the governments of the other 10 countries, have shown themselves to just be simple pawns of the bourgeoisie.[56] While these activities include “promotion of education, culture and gender equality” (conceived in bourgeois, liberal manner), they also include “agricultural, industrial and services sectors… [and] disaster risk management” which again tips the scale in favor of the bourgeoisie. This is similar to the next chapter, chapter 22, with the countries recognizing that “business environments” in their countries “must be responsive to market developments” and establishing a “Committee on Competitiveness and Business Facilitation” which is composed of government representatives from each country, tying them together, but making this a forum where disputes between the bourgeoisie can be solved.[57] Once again, measures like this are not for the benefit of the proletariat, as so-called “interested persons” can provide “provide input on matters relevant to enhancing competitiveness and business facilitation” with those people undeniably being the bourgeoisie and their sycophants. Another chapter, chapter 23, has a similar message, as it focuses on what they call “development.” While it commits countries to “improve welfare, reduce poverty, raise living standards and create new employment opportunities” this obviously will be limited or counter-productive with a strengthened “open trade and investment environment,” “broad-based economic growth,” so-called “innovation” or development in concert with the corporate raiders themselves![58]

The same is the case for chapter 24, which focuses on sharing of “information regarding this Agreement.” This includes the text of the agreement, a summary, “information designed for SMEs… websites… that provide information the Party considers useful to any person interested in trading, investing or doing business in that Party’s territory” with each party working to “make the information available in English,” a provision which is Orientalist without question.[59] This attempt at transparency is almost an afterthought as this agreement was negotiated publicly but was done so behind closed doors. Chapter 25, on the other hand, is about making sure there is regulatory cooperation between countries to “promote international trade and investment, economic growth and employment” which again means having an environment where the bourgeoisie can prosper and the proletariat continue to suffer at their delight.[60] This is coupled with the following chapter. The chapter, chapter 26, says that the “laws, regulations, procedures and administrative rulings of general application” which are related to “any matter covered by this Agreement” have to be published or made available to “interested persons and Parties.”[61] Again, this is tilted to benefit those with more money than those who have less, as they would, undoubtedly, have more ability to access this information. After all, the “interested persons and parties” would include those connected with the Trans-Pacific Partnership Commission, comprised of delegations from 11 countries who are parties to this agreement, considering any matter about the operation, implementation, or changes to the agreement.[62] The final two chapters of the agreement are obvious. One focuses on exceptions to the agreement (chapter 29), and another (chapter 30) focuses on final provisions, followed by annexes after annexes which give privileges to certain countries, some of which has been overwritten and is put in the statement of the delegations meeting on the CPTPP earlier this month.

The way forward: what can be done?

There doesn’t seem to be much hope in stopping the agreement. The conservatives and social democrats in Chile, the nationalists in Japan, the conservatives in Malaysia, the reactionaries in Australia, the social democrats and reactionaries in New Zealand, the “liberals” in Canada, the Islamic monarchists in Brunei, and the neoliberals in Singapore, Peru, and Mexico seem set to approve the agreement. Even the revisionists in Vietnam are gung-ho, even though Vietnam was oppressed by French colonialism, valiantly fought for its independence against “invasion, occupation and imperialism” headed by the U$, leading a socialist revolution at the time, with Uncle Ho at the head, leading the national liberation struggle. You can say that Vietnam has more “leverage over the imperialist rivals,” as one person commented here, but it is still a “comprador regime” which benefits from the capitalist system more than ever before. After all, this agreement only “benefits multinationals and undermines peoples’ lives and economic sovereignty, along with being a plan, coupled with other “trade agreements,” to “centralise economic and political control in the imperialist core and away from peripheral states” and is inherently inter-imperialist. This is because it is part of an anti-China effort, hurts the proletariat as a whole, subordinates states to measures benefiting the capitalist poles of power in the world. The CPTPP, is plain, and simply, about stronger corporate control and “finance capital’s preferential treatment… over people.”[63]

Japanese Communist Party (JCP) opposed the TPP, and would feel the same about the CPTPP. In recent years they called the TPP a threat to “domestic food safety” since it would “widen the circulation of imported foods which violate Japan’s safety standard,” and would require Japan to “import a fixed amount of rice without tariffs” inflicting serious damage on Japan’s agriculture. The JCP also participated in a rally of thousands in Tokyo against the agreement, with some agricultural organizations “which used to support the Liberal Democratic Party” (LDP) changing their affiliations because the LDP backs the TPP! The same is the case in Chile where large sectors of the country have opposed the implementation of the agreement. They aren’t the only ones. The trade unions in Australia and Canada (like Unifor)—who can accurately be described as a leading section of the labor aristocracy—and a nationalist sect within the Canadian bourgeoisie, oppose the agreement. In Chile there have been demonstrations against the agreement with people holding banners such as “No to modern slavery!”, “no to the TPP-11” and “The TPP and TPP-11 are the same!?,” protesting outside the Chilean government’s headquarters.[64] Additionally, left-leaning parties in Australia and Chile also oppose the agreement, with protests outside the parliament in Wellington, New Zealand as well. In the latter country there have been protests by the Christchurch Direct Action Group and Auckland TPP Action Group in which they “dumped dozens of pillows, soft dog toys and homemade rats outside the Prime Minister’s office in Mt Albert, Auckland” with messages on the pillows reading “Aotearoa is not for sale”, “Protect Aotearoa and our ecological assets” and “It’s our children’s future! We must protect it!” The dogs refer to “Ms Ardern’s previous comments” that ISDS clauses were “a dog,” the rats are a reminder the CPTPP “will still need to be ratified by Parliament,” and the pillows symbolize how the “Government has gone to sleep on the wider implications of the TPP.” In Malaysia, the social democratic “socialist party” of Malaysia—which is not socialist in the Marxist sense—proposed a “People’s Charter on International Trade Agreements” which, of course, acknowledges capitalist precepts but opposes “concessions [which are being granted to]… the richest corporations.” It says that “trade agreements should not make market access commitments that facilitate privatization of health sector,” adding that “every country should have the right to impose tariffs on imported food so as to protect local farmers and fishermen” and arguing that “trade should not be only about Malaysia benefiting especially if it is at the expense of a country that is more unfortunate compared to us.” In the year to come, there has been talk of the ROK (“South” Korea) and the Chinese nationalists in “Taiwan” joining the CPTPP, while China has been encouraged to give “careful thought to cooperation potential” to the CPTPP as an opinion in the Global Times recently declared.

Of the 11 countries, Malaysia, Japan (called the National Diet), New Zealand, Canada, Singapore, Australia, have a parliament, while Peru (called the Congress of the Republic), Mexico (called the Congress of the Union), Chile (called the National Congress), and Vietnam (called the National Assembly) also have legislative bodies. Brunei is the only one without a functioning legislative body, as there is a legislative council but all the members are appointed by the sultan. With this, the populace could, theoretically, push, through social movements, to pressure legislators to reject the agreement, which is part of contradictory “world market integration” which is dependent upon “dominance of neoliberalism… [which has introduced some] interesting new features into the dynamic of the world market” setting it apart from previous historical periods. However, inherently, these legislatures have a bourgeois character, perhaps even in Vietnam, meaning that they are not truly representative.

With that, it is important to chart a way forward. For one, it is best to recall the words of Uncle Ho in 1960, saying not only that “socialism and communism can liberate the oppressed nations and the working people throughout the world from slavery” but Leninism is a wise compass for “Vietnamese revolutionaries and people… the radiant sun illuminating our path to final victory, to socialism and communism.” Today, the same applies and there should be a focus on using Leninism in its most powerful form, by defending, as Uncle Ho has argued four years earlier, “the purity of Marxism-Leninism” which the Vietnamese revisionists have undoubtedly abandoned and thrown in the trash.

At the same time, we should recognize that, as Jose Carlos Marulanda wrote recently in ANTICONQUISTA, that “Western/First World workers benefit from imperialism… [and there is an] actual material relationship that can be scientifically understood through a thorough study of the global capitalist system” with “Third World or Global South workers and nations… robbed of a large portion of their wealth, helping to maintain the high wages of First World workers,” leading to an “imperialist unequal exchange” which is the “main source of profit for First World companies, states and workers.” He further wrote that “a large portion of the workers in the West benefit materially from imperialism” which should be a reason to “join hands with billions of oppressed people across the Third World who wish to destroy parasitic capitalism and imperialism.” It is evident that there can be communist mobilization in the “West,” especially among “poor Black people, Latinx immigrants, immigrants in general and even some white workers,” while the “inherent Eurocentrism of mainstream communist parties” should be criticized, as should the idea that “the working class in each country is equally exploited by the same global capitalist class” as this ignores the nuances between the proletariat.

What does this mean in terms of the CPTPP? It means that the workers in Canada, Japan, New Zealand, and Australia, especially, would benefit, more from the unequal capitalist exchange enhanced by the CPTPP, than the proletariat in Mexico, Vietnam, Chile, Malaysia, Brunei, Peru, and Singapore. The latter will continue to be oppressed by the imperialist blocs, as RAIM has argued, centralized in the “West.” After all, as James Cockcroft wrote social classes are not static entities and under capitalism the form labor takes is being continuously transformed, with the purpose of “extracting surplus value” in a conflict-ridden process of “social class formation.”[65] This process gives way to an evolving class structure, which in turn is “shaped by class struggle” itself.

Elsewhere, in other parts of the world, the same horrid, and neoliberal, elements are being applied to peoples of color. Take for example a major agreement set to be signed in Africa, which will cover “more than 1.2 billion people across Africa, from Morocco all the way to South Africa,” encompassing the continent’s 55 nations, creating a Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA)![66] This would eventually be “extended to create common policies on investment, competition and intellectual property” with the agreement, covering economies “with a combined GDP of around $3.4 trillion,” aiming to replace “a patchwork of smaller trade agreements and bring countries closer together, following the pattern set by the European Union.” Additionally, this agreement would, within 10 years, create an “African central bank and single currency” but some have been skeptical, worrying that “the free trade zone could be “unworkably large” and may have limited benefits.” Others like Niger’s President Mahamadou Issoufou “listed several obstacles to boosting continental trade.. [but said that] the potential rewards are simply too big to ignore,” citing NAFTA’s “success” as an example. This shows the power of neoliberalism, and shows the real face of the Chinese revisionists, who argue that that they staunchly support “trade liberalization” and “economic integration,” opposing the new tariffs on imported steel and aluminum imposed by the orange menace on much of the world (but not Canada and Mexico), arguing that they don’t want a “trade war.”[67] A few years ago the Chinese even declared they would join the TPP at the “appropriate time” despite the fact, that at the time, the agreement benefited the capitalists to the most extent! Basically, these Chinese revisionists are holding the same position on trade that Obama had when he was in office, president of the murderous empire, seriously throwing into question the idea that the country is on the “socialist road.” Still, socialist and communist supporters of  China as a “socialist state” shout from the rooftops, or out their windows, as suggested by Howard Beale in the problematic (due to its anti-Arab biases mainly) but still relevant Hollywierd movie from the 1970s, Network, to all who can hear them, declaring they have the “truth” about China and that others have Orientalist reasoning. Of course, these individuals gloss over the capitalist, bourgeois ideology which has been subsumed into China and its development since 1976, basically declaring it is part of a 42-year policy mirroring the New Economic Policy (NEP) of the early Soviet government, which is, frankly, strange reasoning at best.

In the end, while it is unlikely that the legislatures of Malaysia, Japan, New Zealand, Canada, Singapore, Australia, Peru, Chile, and Vietnam or the governmental bodies of Brunei will oppose the agreement, that does not mean comrades should lay down and surrender. Exactly the opposite should happen. Even if this agreement can’t be stopped, there must be a strong movement, pushed forward or led by those who have a Marxist-Leninist ideology, pushing against such agreements in the years to come. Obviously this will not bring socialist revolution, but it provide a fertile ground to organize the proletariat for revolutionary action, expanding the ranks of communist parties, challenging the bourgeois political constraints, smashing them like a wine glass shattering to a million pieces on the concrete floor.


[1] New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, on a web page titled “CPTPP vs TPP,” writes that a “suspended provision is a provision in the original TPP Agreement which will not have effect under CPTPP. Agreement of all CPTPP members would be needed for these provisions to take effect in the future. Twenty-two items from the original TPP will be suspended under CPTPP. This means they will have no affect [sic] on CPTPP Parties” along with a number of other specifics.

[2] “CPTPP: 11 countries sign Pacific Trade Deal in Chile,” The Santiago Times, Mar 9, 2018; Alanna Petroff, “The Pacific trade deal Trump quit is back on,” CNN Money, Jan 23, 2018; “CPTPP Another Step Closer to Reality,” AG Web, Mar 2, 2018; Alex Capri, “Trump’s Trade Wars, China Inc’.s Globalization Plan And The CPTPP—What’s Next?,” Forbes, Mar 8, 2018; Tim McDonald, “Asia-Pacific trade deal signed by 11 nations,” BBC News, Mar 8, 2018; Gyles Beckford, “New TPP deal: why now and who wins?,” RNZ, Jan 24, 2018; Alex Capri, “The Reborn TPP Proves That Multilateral Agreements Trump Bilateral Trade Deals Every Time,” Forbes, Nov 15, 2017; “6 things to know about the trans-Pacific trade pact CPTPP,” The Straits Times, Jan 23, 2018; “Trans-Pacific Trade Partners Are Moving On, Without the U.S.,” New York Times, Nov 11, 2017; Heather Long, “As Trump announces tariffs, Trudeau unveils Canada’s new trade deal with Asia,” Washington Post, Jan 23, 2017; “Canada reaches deal on revised Trans-Pacific Partnership,” CBC News, Jan 23, 2018.

[3] “What They’re Saying: CPTPP,” Liberal Party of Canada, Jan 25, 2018; Kate Ayers, “‘Sign’ of relief – Canada, a confirmed participant in CPTPP,” Farms.com, Jan 24, 2018; Peter Hall, “CPTPP: Trade is Still in Vogue!,” EDC, Mar 8, 2018; David Worts (executive director of the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association of Canada), “Why the new TPP will boost Canada’s automotive sector,” Globe and Mail, Nov 20, 2017; Steven Chase and Greg Kaufman, “Canadian industries split on new TPP trade deal,” Globe and Mail, Jan 24, 2018; “Who needs America?,” The Economist, Nov 16, 2017; Community News Service, “Canadian ag groups applaud CPTPP signing,” The Western Producer, Mar 9, 2018; “RealAg Radio, Jan 31: Moisture concerns, CPTPP excitement and Do More,” Real Agriculture, Jan 31, 2018; “Canola industry cheers CPTPP signing,” Alberta Canola, Mar 7, 2018; Canadian Meat Council, “Canadian Meat Council Supports CPTPP,” PerishableNews.com, Jan 18, 2018. What is stated here is noted by The Economist which says that “as America retreats, others will lead instead…If countries used the opportunity to grab new concessions in their pet areas, others could make counterclaims and talks could descend into a protectionist mess… The Canucks want better access to the Japanese vehicle market and worry that a CPTPP agreement on cars will complicate the politics of NAFTA negotiations; they also want more freedom to force companies to develop Canadian cultural content….Aside from the areas still under discussion, the ministerial statement listed 20 carve-outs from the original pact… States can force investors to sign agreements waiving their right to sue under the CPTPP. Despite these difficulties, so far the CPTPP looks impressively similar to its parent. It seems the new deal will preserve the market access agreed upon in the TPP… Even if America has rejected its own rules, others still see value in them.” The last sentence is vital and shows that the capitalist poles of power in the world, even in the U$ still benefit, to an extent, even if only rhetorically and through influence from the CPTPP.

[4] Trevor Hargreaves, “Opinion: Scramble to sign Canada Into the CPTPP trade deal is short-sighted,” Vancouver Sun, Feb 5, 2018; “Dairy Farmers of Canada reacts to reports regarding the revised CPTPP agreement,” Cosmopolitan Dairy Magazine, Jan 24, 2018.

[5] Charlotte Greenfield and Colin Packnam, “Final version of Trans-Pacific trade deal released, rules pushed by U.S. on ice,” Reuters, Feb 20, 2018; “Sheep and goat meat tariffs eliminated by CPTPP trade agreement,” Sheep Central, Mar 8, 2018; Evan Young, “What does the CPTPP mean for Australia?,” SBS News, Mar 8, 2018.

[6] Gareth Hutchens, “Trans-Pacific Partnership’s benefit to Australia ‘very small’,” The Guardian, Jan 25, 2018; Hamish Rutherford, “Muted elation from business hides relief at CPTPP trade deal,” BusinessDay, Nov 13, 2017.

[7] CanadaWest Foundation, “The Art of the Trade Deal: Quantifying the Benefits of a TPP Without the United States,” June 2017, pp 3, 4, 5, 6, 12, 18, 20, 21, 27, 28, 30, 34, with all these pages used for this paragraph. For the next sentence, take for example what the American Farm Bureau Federation declared on January 31st: that the “Trans-Pacific Partnership would have increased net farm income by $4.4 billion… Without being party to CPTPP, the U.S. will not have favored access to the agricultural markets in these countries[Canada and Mexico] and could lose market share in this high-growth and geopolitically-important part of the world… Now is the time to make agricultural trade great again by enhancing NAFTA, negotiating a U.S. position in CPTPP, engaging with Japan, improving KORUS, and getting more access to the important Chinese market.” In a recent analysis published in CNN by Ronald Brownstein titled “Somebody should tell Democrats they’ve become the free trade party” he wrote that “Democrats have been almost entirely tongue-tied” on the issue of the tariffs by the orange menace, with most Democrats trying to “avoid the issue altogether”which he said “speaks volumes about the Democrats’ inability, or unwillingness, to recognize the evolving nature of the party’s demographic and geographic base.” He added that few Democrats want to clash with “labor unions who promote protectionist policies” and leading them to fail to “support international economic engagement” meaning that they are not supporting “free trade”agreements like the TPP, which “Democratic mayors” have been strongly supportive, like horrid Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, as have “Democratic voters.” This is has meant, he argued, that “Republicans have become the party of blue-collar, older and non-metro white America…[while] Democrats now rely on a preponderantly urban-based coalition of minorities, millennials and white-collar whites.”

[8] Nhan Dan, “CPTPP facilitates Vietnam’s international integration at a new level: Minister,” dtinews, Mar 9, 2018.

[9] Phuong Anh, “Vietnam and 10 countries signed the CPTPP” (English translation), Thanhnien, Mar 9, 2018.

[10] Dezan Shira Associates, “TPP Is Now The CPTPP: What Does This Mean For Vietnam?,” Frontera, Nov 29, 2017.

[11] “What can the CPTPP trade agreement bring to Vietnam?,” VIETNAMNET Bridge, Feb 6, 2018; “TPP changed to Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership,” VOV (Voice of Vietnam) 15, Nov 11, 2017. A recent article in Scientific American declared that while “the metro projects in Vietnam… have the potential to transform Saigon and Hanoi into modern cities with efficient, clean, and accessible mobility for all” but the “increasing delays, cost overruns, inability to disburse funds, lack of enforcement across contractors” may hurt public transit users, something not unique to Vietnam with cost of the Saigon Metro tripled, and second line, “the Ben Thanh-Tham Luong… line, is now two years delayed… with cost overruns.” Due to the fog in such bourgeois media on countries such as Vietnam, this is likely true at least to an extent, showing some of the effects of revisionism in Vietnam itself.

[12] “11 countries, including Singapore, agree to new Trans-Pacific Partnership deal,” The Straits Times, Jan 23, 2018; Matthew P. Goldman, “From TPP to CPTPP,” Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Mar 8, 2018; Jeremy Malcolm and Jyoti Panday, “Despite A Victory on IP, the TPP’s Resurgence Hasn’t Cured Its Ills,” EFF, Nov 10, 2017; Matt Peterson, “A Glimpse of a Canadian-Led International Order,” The Atlantic, Jan 24, 2018; William New, “TPP Texts Show Suspended IP Provisions,” Intellectual Property Watch, Nov 16, 2017; David Farrar, “CPTPP,” Kiwiblog, Nov 14, 2017; “Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership May Differ Significantly from TPP,” JD Supra LLC, Mar 8, 2018. The latter source said that “… suspension of these provisions removes many of the benefits for biotechnological and pharmaceutical inventions that were part of, and part of the attractiveness of, the TPP as negotiated by the Obama administration… Regardless of the current inclination of the present administration to espouse nationalistic rhetoric and policies, U.S. biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies live in the global community and their ability to compete in foreign markets has not been improved by suspension of these provisions of the CPTPP.”

[13]Hamish Rutherford, “Muted elation from business hides relief at CPTPP trade deal,” BusinessDay, Nov 13, 2017; Angela Bilbow, “CPTPP: Trading between the new ocean’s eleven,” Global Legal Group, Nov 15, 2017; Tang See Kit, “Singapore inks new TPP trade pact with 10 other countries: 5 things to know about the CPTPP,” ChannelNewsAsia, Mar 9, 2018; Martin Khor (director of SouthCentre), “The New CPTPP Trade Pact is Much Like the Old TPP,” Inter Press Service, Mar 7, 2018; Jomo Kwame Sundaram, “Model Trade Deal Con,” Inter Press Service, Feb 28, 2018; “6 things to know about the trans-Pacific trade pact CPTPP,” The Straits Times, Jan 23, 2018; Michael Tatarski, “Countries agree on Pacific trade pact that excludes U.S.,” Politico, Nov 10, 2017; Matthias Helble and Yizhe Daniel Xie, “Is the CPTPP a risky gamble?,” EastAsiaForum, Dec 23, 2017.

[14] This paragraph uses Articles 27.6, 28.1, 28.3, 28.9, 28.10, 28.11, 28.12, 28.13, 28.14, 28.15, 28.16 of the CPTPP.

[15] In certain instances, the panelists, other than the chair, must have “expertise or experience in labour law or practice” (for labor disputes), “expertise or experience in environmental law or practice” (for environmental disputes), or “expertise or experience in anti-corruption law or practice” (for transparency and anti-corruption disputes) in order to be on the panel.

[16] This paragraph uses Articles 28.17, 28.18, 28.19, 28.20, 20.21, & 20.23 of the CPTPP.

[17]  This paragraph uses Articles 28.2, 28.4, 28.5, 28.8, 28.22 & 28.23 of the CPTPP. The chapter goes on. It says that parties may agree to other methods “of dispute resolution, such as good offices, conciliation or mediation” if needed (Article 28.6), that a panel can be requested if the “consulting Parties fail to resolve the matter” within either 30-day-window (for perishable goods), and 60-day-window (for everything else) (Article 28.7).

[18] Chris Hamby, “The Billion-Dollar Ultimatium,” BuzzFeed News, Aug 30, 2016. I usually dislike Buzz Feed as utter trash but this article actually was pretty good.

[19] Claire Provost and Matt Kennard, “The obscure legal system that lets corporations sue countries,” The Guardian, Jun 10, 2015.

[20] The USTR gloats, on the same page, that “in the three decades that the U.S. has had agreements for investment arbitration, only 13 cases have been brought to conclusion and the U.S. has won every single case,” not caring how it affects other countries and peoples.

[21] It doesn’t apply to: auto trade between Canada and Mexico (Appendix B), or between Canada and Mexico (Appendix D-2), anti-dumping practices (Annex-6A), technical barriers to trade (TBT) agreement (Article 8.4), most favored nation treatment (Article 9.5; Article 11.4), public debt (Annex 9-G), a decision of Australia, Canada, Mexico, or New Zealand to approve (or not) a “foreign investment proposal” (Annex 9-H), and cannot submit a claim of arbitration on behalf of another country (Annex 9-J). Additionally, this doesn’t apply to immigration measures (Article 12.9), electronic commerce for Malaysia and Vietnam for two years after agreement enters into force (Article 14.18), “competition policy” (Article 16.19), Vietnam’s implementation of intellectual property provisions for three years (Article 18.83), and New Zealand’s measures “to protect indigenous plant species” (Annex 18-A). At the same time, it also doesn’t apply to cooperation and capacity building which are “activities… intended to accelerate economic growth and development” (Article 21.6), competitiveness and business facilitation which are efforts to “enhance the domestic, regional and global competitiveness of their economies, and to promote economic integration and development within the free trade area” (Article 22.5), development policies “designed for its nationals to maximise the use of the opportunities created by this Agreement” (Article 23.9), small and medium-sized enterprises (Article 24.3), “regulatory coherence” or designing regulations to achieve “domestic policy objectives” and engaging in “regulatory cooperation” (Article 25.11), transparency and fairness for medical devices and pharmaceutical products (Annex 26-A, Article 6), and the Treaty of Waitangi for New Zealand (Article 29.6). Additionally, a party can maintain or increase a customs duty, if authorized by the ISDS of the WTO or under another agreement (Article 29.1 (4)). For the 15 issues and situations, see Articles 7.17, 7.18, 10.2 (7), 11.21, 11.22, 12.10, 17.15, 19.5 (12) & (13), 20.23, 26.12,  and 29.4 (4), Annex 8-C (12)(c), Annex 8-D (12)(c), Annex 8-E (13)(c), Section B, Annex 9-D (listing places a dispute-settlement document would be sent for every party), footnote 1 of Chapter 10, Annex 17-B; Footnote 10 of chapter 17, footnote 25 of chapter 17 of the CPTPP.

[22] Golriz Ghahraman, “The CPTPP deal undermines Kiwis’ best interests,” Newshub, Mar 8, 2018; Dan Satherley, “Activists cement their feet in concrete to protest CPTPP signing,” Newshub, Mar 8, 2018; Jomo Sundaram, “My Say: Will Parliament stop the CPTPP Frankenstein?,” TheEdge Markets, Jan 31, 2018; Michael Reddell, “A free trader critiques the CPTPP,” Newsroom, Jan 26, 2018.

[23] James D. Cockcroft, Mexico: Class Formation, Capital Accumulation, and the State (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1990 edition), pp 140, 145, 165, 209, 253, 309.

[24] Charlotte Nassim, “Notes on the Revolutionary Students in Japan,” The New Revolutionaries: A Handbook of the International Radical Left (ed. Tariq Ali), pp 251, 252, 255, 256. While a “Streak of Trotskyism” runs through this book, there are a number of non-Trotskyists whose work is reprinted: Black Panthers Eldridge Cleaver and Stokely Carmichael, and Fidel Castro, to name a few. Tariq Ali, if one puruses his Wikipedia page, seems to be a Trotskyist, but he has written on varied subjects meaning that he shouldn’t be totally ignored.

[25] See Articles 2.3, 2.4, & 2.5 of the CPTPP. For the next sentence, see Articles 2.7 & 2.8.

[26] See Articles 2.10, 2.11, & 2.14 of the CPTPP. For the next sentence, see Articles 2.15 & 2.24.

[27] See Article 2.18 of the CPTPP.

[28] See Articles 2.21, 2.25, 2.27, Annex 2-A, Annex 2-B, Annex 2-C, and Annex 2-D, and Annex 2-D for every party of the CPTPP, Appendix A of Canada’s Tariff Schedule, Appendix B, Appendix B-1, Appendix B-2, Appendix C, Appendix D-2, Appendix A-1, Appendix A-2,

[29] In Outlines of Political Economy in 1844, Engels wrote that political economy “came into being as a natural result of the expansion of trade.”

[30] See Articles 3.2, 3.3, 3.4, 3.6, 3.7, 3.8, 3.9, 3.10, 3.14, 3.15, 3.16, 3.18, and Annex 3-D of the CPTPP.

[31] See Articles 3.13, 3.17, 3.20, 3.21, 3.22, 3.23, 3.24, 3.25, 3.26, 3.27, 3.28, 3.29, 3.30, 3.31, 3.32, Annex 3-A, Annex 3-B, and Annex 3-C of the CPTPP.

[32] See Article 4.2 of the CPTPP.

[33] See Article 4.3 of the CPTPP. There is also cooperation between parties on enforcement of measures relating to “customs offences,” with monitoring in place, as noted in Articles 4.4 and 4.5.

[34] See Articles 4.6, 4.7, 4.8, & 4.9, Annex 4-A, and Annex 4-A-Appendix 1, of the CPTPP.

[35] See Articles 5.1, 5.2, 5.3, 5.4, 5.5, 5.6, 5.7, 5.9, & 5.10 of the CPTPP.

[36] See Article 5.8 of the CPTPP, and for the next sentence, see Articles 5.11 and 5.12.

[37] See Article 6.1 of the CPTPP. For the next sentence, see Articles 6.2, 6.3, 6.4, 6.5, 6.6, 6.8, and Annex 6-A.

[38] See Article 6.7 of the CPTPP.

[39] See Articles 7.2, 7.3, 7.4, 7.5, 7.6, 7.7, 7.8, 7.9, 7.10, 7.11, 7.12, 7.13, 7.14, 7.15, 7.16, & 7.17 of the CPTPP.

[40] See Articles 8.2, 8.3, 8.5, 8.6, 8.7, 8.8, 8.9, 8.10, 8.11, 8.12, 8.13, Annex 8-A, Annex 8-B, Annex 8-C, Annex 8-D, Annex 8-E, Annex 8-F, and Annex 8-G of the CPTPP.

[41] See Articles 9.4, 9.5, 9.6, 9.7, 9.10, 9.11, 9.12, 9.14, & 9.15, Annex 9-B, and Annex 9-C, of the CPTPP, with Articles 9.8 & 9.9 the source for the next sentence.

[42] See Articles 9.16 and 9.17 of the CPTPP. Under Annexes 9-E and 9-F Chile gives itself certain rights in regards to investment, with the same for Australia in Annex 9-H, Vietnam in Annex 9-I, Malaysia in Annex 9-K, varied countries (Chile, Mexico, Peru or Vietnam) in regards to an arbitration claim as noted in Annex 9-J, and Annex 9-G saying every country has a right to restructure its public debt if need be.

[43] See Articles 10.2, 10.3, 10.4, 10.5, 10.6, 10.7, 10.8, 10.9, 10.10, 10.11, 10.12, 10.13, Annex 10-A, Annex 10-B, Annex 10-C of the CPTPP.

[44] See Articles 11.1, 11.3, 11.4, 11.5, 11.6, 11.8, 11.9, 11.10, 11.11, 11.12, 11.13, 11.14, 11.15, 11.16, 11.19, and 11.20, along with Annexes 11-B, 11-C, and 11-D, as cited for that sentence and the two following it. Annexes 11-A gave specific requirements for Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam.

[45] See Articles 12.1, 12.2, 12.3, 12.4, 12.5, 12.6, 12.7, 12.8, and 12.10 of the CPTPP.

[46] See Article 13.1 of the CPTPP with later sentences referring to Articles 13.3, 13.4, 13.5, & 13.6

[47] See Articles 13.7, 13.8, 13.9, 13.10, 13.11, 13.12, 13.13, 13.14, 13.15, 13.16, 13.17, 13.18, 13.19, 13.20, 13.21, 13.22, 13.23, 13.24, 13.25, 13.26, Annex 13-B of the CPTPP.

[48] See Articles 14.2, 14.3, 14.4, 14.5, 14.6, 14.7, 14.8, 14.9, 14.10, 14.11, 14.12, 14.13, 14.14, 14.15, 14.16, & 14.17 of the CPTPP.

[49] See Articles 15.2, 15.3, 15.4, 15.5, 15.6, 15.7, 15.8, 15.9, 15.10, 15.11, 15.12, 15.13, 15.14, 15.15, 15.16, 15.17, 15.18, 15.19, 15.20, 15.21, 15.22, 15.23, and 15.24 of the CPTPP.

[50] See Articles 16.1, 16.2, 16.3, 16.4, 16.5, 16.6, 16.7, 16.8, 16.9, and Annex 16-A, of the CPTPP.

[51] See Articles 17.1, 17.2, 17.3, 17.4, 17.5, 17.6, 17.7, 17.8, 17.9, 17.10, 17.11, 17.12, 17.13, 17.14, 17.15, Annex 17-A, Annex 17-B, Annex 17-C, Annex 17-D, Annex 17-E, Annex 17-F of the CPTPP. Sherman Katz in an article in Harvard Business Review on March 8th, titled “Tariffs Are the Wrong Way to Fight Unfair Trade Practices,” wrote about this. They noted that the CPTPP out in place the “tightest constraints on SOEs to date…[the] strongest set of SOE rules to date” which were, interestingly enough, “largely drafted and negotiated by U.S. trade negotiators” with these rules prohibiting “countries from providing subsidies to their SOEs in many cases… mandat[ing]… that countries list all their SOEs on a public website and disclose their ownership stakes in SOEs… require commercial sales and purchases be made on the basis of commercial considerations,” showing that they recognize the stakes at hand, while the Vietnamese revisionists have remained silent.

[52] See Articles 18.2, 18.3, 18.4, 18.5, 18.6, 18.7, 18.8, 18.9, 18.10, 18.11, 18.12, 18.13, 18.14, 18.15, 18.16, 18.17, 18.18, 18.19, 18.20, 18.21, 18.22, 18.23, 18.24, 18.25, 18.26, 18.27, 18.28, 18.29, 18.30, 18.31, 18.32, 18.33, 18.34, 18.35,18.36, 18.37, 18.38, 18.39, 18.40, 18.41, 18.42, 18.43, 18.44, 18.45, 18.47, 18.49, 18.52, 18.53, 18.54, 18.55, 18.56, 18.57, 18.58, 18.59, 18.60, 18.61, 18.62, 18.64, 18.65, 18.66, 18.67, 18.70, 18.71, 18.72, 18.73, 18.74, 18.75, 18.76, 18.77, 18.78, 18.80, 18.81, 18.83, Annex 18-A, Annex 18-B, Annex 18-C, and Annex 18-D of the CPTPP, used for this whole paragraph.

[53] See Articles 19.2, 19.3, 19.4, 19.5, 19.6, 19.7, 19.8, 19.9, 19.10, 19.11, 19.12, 19.13, 19.14, & 19.15 of the CPTPP.

[54] See Articles 20.1, 20.2, 20.3, 20.4, 20.5, 20.6, 20.7, 20.8, 20.9, 20.10, 20.11, 20.12, 20.13, 20.14, 20.15, 20.16, 20.17, 20.18, 20.19, 20.20, 20.21, 20.22, 20.23, Annex 20-A, and Annex 20-B of the CPTPP which is used throughout this paragraph.

[55] Even worse is the provision which says that “the Parties recognise the importance of trade and investment in environmental goods and services as a means of improving environmental and economic performance and addressing global environmental challenges” showing this form of conservation to about profits, profits, and more profits.

[56] See Articles 21.1, 21.2, 21.3, 21.4, & 21.5 of the CPTPP.

[57] See Articles 22.2, 22.3, & 22.4 of the CPTPP.

[58] See Articles 23.1, 23.2, 23.3. 23.4, 23.5, 23.6, 23.7, & 23.8 of the CPTPP.

[59] See Article 24.1 of the CPTPP.

[60] See Articles 25.2, 25.3, 25.4, 25.5, 25.6, 25.7, 25.8, 25.9, & 25.10 of the CPTPP.

[61] See Articles 26.2, 26.3, 26.4, 26.5, 26.6, 26.7, 26.8, 26.9, 26.10, 26.11, Annex 26-A, and Appendix to Annex 26-A of the CPTPP

[62] See Articles 27.1, 27.2, 27.3, 27.4, 27.5, 27.6, & 27.7 of the CPTPP.

[63] Similar statements were reprinted by the Italian Communist Refoundation Party (PRC). One of these is a statement by a Stop TTIP Italy spokesperson criticizing preferential market access conditions in all countries that are competitive with its Pacific manufactories” inherent in the TPP, an article by bourgeois economists Joseph Stiglitz and Adam S. Hersh translated into Italian in 2015 harshly criticizing the TPP, including the ISDS provisions, saying that “make it difficult for Governments to perform their basic functions-protect the health and safety of their citizens, economic stability, and protect the environment.” Other statements include one about protests in Brussels “against the negotiations on the liberalisation of trade and investment.”

[64] “CPTPP: 11 countries sign Pacific Trade Deal in Chile,” The Santiago Times, Mar 9, 2018; “CPTPP to be signed (and protested) today,” Your NZ, Mar 8, 2018; David Farrar, “CPTPP,” Kiwiblog, Nov 14, 2017; Dan Satherley, “Activists cement their feet in concrete to protest CPTPP signing,” Newshub, Mar 8, 2018.

[65] James D. Cockcroft, Mexico: Class Formation, Capital Accumulation, and the State (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1990 edition), p 186.

[66] Alanna Petroff, “The Pacific trade deal Trump quit is back on,” CNN Money, Jan 23, 2018; Alanna Petroff, “African nations set to approve huge free trade deal,”CNN Money, Jan 23, 2018.

[67] “CPTPP: 11 countries sign Pacific Trade Deal in Chile,” The Santiago Times, Mar 9, 2018; Reuters Staff, “China communist party paper says country should join U.S.-led trade pact,” Reuters, Oct 24, 2015; Yuli Yang and Susannah Cullinane, “Beijing: ‘No winners’ in any trade war with US,” CNN, Mar 11, 2018; “China Minister Says Trade War Would Bring ‘Disaster’ to World,” Bloomberg News, Mar 11, 2018.

Join the conversation! 7 Comments

  1. […] toward capitalism.” [9] This is a worrisome sign, if a path similar to that of Vietnam, which recently rolled over and accepted the CPTPP, a trade agreement which benefits the global bourgeoisie and hurts the proletariat, being pursued, […]

  2. […] toward capitalism.” [9] This is a worrisome sign, if a path similar to that of Vietnam, which recently rolled over and accepted the CPTPP, a trade agreement which benefits the global bourgeoisie and hurts the proletariat, being pursued, […]

  3. […] “Free trade” and the CPTPP: a Capitalist Feast on the Global Proletariat […]

  4. […] also trying to expand Chinese investments and “infrastructure loans.” After all, they were fine with the horrid TPP (and its successor, the CPTPP), wanting more integration of the global capitalist […]

  5. […] also trying to expand Chinese investments and “infrastructure loans.” After all, they were fine with the horrid TPP (and its successor, the CPTPP), wanting more integration of the global capitalist […]

  6. […] “Free trade” and the CPTPP: a Capitalist Feast on the Global Proletariat (Mar 15, 2018) […]

  7. […] “Free trade” and the CPTPP: a Capitalist Feast on the Global Proletariat (Mar 15, 2018) […]


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Africa, Asia, Imperialism, Latin America, Neo-Colonialism, Political Economy, Revolutionary Foreign Policy, Theory, US/Canada


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