THE TPP - Trans-Pacific Partnership - is a secretive trade deal between the US and Brunei, New Zealand, Chile, Singapore, Australia, Canada, Peru, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico and Vietnam.
Whilst Papua New Guinea is not directly involved, it will nevertheless have profound effects on PNG, and if successful will, I predict, force PNG closer into the welcoming embrace of China and impact many industries, commercial interests and education in PNG.
It is a deal being negotiated in secret. Some details have been leaked via Wikileaks, and these are disturbing. There is as yet no democratic debate and little public discussion of the proposals. As PNG's major trading partners are involved it will have a profound effect on PNG.
It is supposed to be a 'free-trade' agreement, so why should we be worried?
Well one view is that it is an attempt to impose the dominance of US commercial interests on the Pacific Rim with little return for the other partners.
For example, it greatly extends the power of US companies to exert their influence by exempting them from local (national) trade protection law. It also gives them the right to sue governments that seek to limit their activities because of local environmental, ethical or commercial interests.
Take one example. If a US company wants to develop a seabed mine next to the barrier reef, and Australia says no, it will cause environmental damage, the US company can take the Australian government to international court to demand it's rights to do so (as it's a restriction of 'free trade'). Under the proposed TPP the company would probably win.
Don't think this is merely hypothetical, it is already happening.
And if pharmaceutical companies complain that cheap medicines are being made and sold outside of their control, they can likewise sue. This is also happening.
But the biggest impact I believe would be on education and social media. The TPP proposes major extensions of copyright, based on the US model, which seems to extend copyright tenure regularly to support the interests of US big media.
Try getting multiple copies of Alice in Wonderland or War of the Worlds or 1984 for teaching purposes without having to pay through the nose to a US copyright holder.
Disney controls our classrooms.
Why is there so little discussion or debate about all of this? Mainly because the TPP negotiations are being held in secret, and to leak the details opens you to charges of espionage.