Wed, Jul 29, 2015 - Page 8 News List

Telling the truth about the TPP

By Liu Ching-yi 劉靜怡

During the Sunflower movement, the DPP took a position supportive of the movement and in opposition to the non-transparent cross-strait service agreement. Yet when it comes to the TPP, the party avoids any discussion about the fact that most parties seem to believe that it is the US’ largest non-transparent trade agreement in history and that the TPP negotiations have caused a lot of controversy and criticism both in the US and in the international community for its lack of transparency.

In the end, the DPP will be unable to avoid the necessity of proposing concrete policies to respond to the aforementioned impact that the TPP will have on Taiwan domestically.

Many people, such as Nobel laureate in economics Joseph Stiglitz, have often criticized the TPP, saying that it is reducing the governments’ ability to protect the national economy and public interests among other things.

That raises the question of how Taiwan, if it becomes a member state of the accord, will manage to balance long-term public welfare policy controls with welfare measures.

In other words, the TPP is by no means just an economic issue, but rather a litmus test of fairness and justice.

Beyond the fact that Taiwan holds a strategic location in Asia, which is in fact of national security concern, another question is whether the DPP, which is anticipating victory in next year’s presidential election, intends to use the process of obtaining TPP membership as a means to drastically transform the structure of Taiwan’s industrial sector, social welfare policy, talent flow, legal system and more.

If this is the case, where should the capital required for this transformation come from, and what would be the direction of such restructuring and the concrete steps to implement them? How would they be able to strike a balance between the related costs and the benefits of this restructuring process?

For example, anyone who is willing to examine some of the content from the TPP draft text that has been exposed by the whistle-blowing Web site Wikileaks will find that the text’s intellectual property rights chapter — which covers patents, trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets and many broad, controversial provisions — would have a negative impact on values such as human rights, fairness and justice.

The DPP will be faced with tough challenges keeping to election slogans such as participatory democracy, fair distribution, social justice and an innovation-driven economy.

Therefore, instead of hosting carnival-like events to promote the idea of an innovation economy, the DPP should clearly and seriously tell young people why it is absolutely necessary that Taiwan joins the TPP, and the extent to which the trade agreement is hiding obstructions to freedom of information and opportunities for innovation.

It should also tell them how the next president will go about resolving these issues in an effective manner.

Liu Ching-yi is a professor in the College of Social Sciences at National Taiwan University.

Translated by Zane Kheir

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