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Obama Lifts Veil Of Secrecy On TPP, And It's A Whopper Of A Trade Deal


The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a whopper of a trade deal. The TPP would bring together the economies of the U.S., Japan and 10 other Pacific Rim nations, creating the world's largest free trade area. NPR's Jackie Northam reports that details of the deal have been kept secret until now.

JACKIE NORTHAM, BYLINE: The Obama administration released the full text of the TPP, all 30 chapters, first thing this morning.

RAJIV BISWAS: I do admit, it's pretty hard work trolling through this document.

NORTHAM: Rajiv Biswas is Asia-Pacific chief economist with IHS Global Insight. He says the TPP agreement is very complex.

BISWAS: Not only is it 6,000 pages, but there's also side agreements between countries which add to the length of the whole process because the scope of this agreement is much greater and it covers many more chapters than the usual trade agreement.

NORTHAM: Biswas says the deal covers everything from currency manipulation rules to environmental provisions. He says a large part of the document is taken up with what he calls carve outs - special deals or exemptions.

BISWAS: It's going to take a lot of lawyers and a lot of time to study the detail, to really get to the bottom of what it really all means. And also, public interest groups, who have been quite concerned during the negotiation process because they didn't have access to the details.

NORTHAM: Labor and trade unions, environmental and watchdog groups quickly slammed the deal. John Sifton with Human Rights Watch points to a bilateral labor protection agreement between the U.S. and Vietnam in the deal.

JOHN SIFTON: And it sounds great - lots of obligations on Vietnam to change its labor laws, change its practices, to allow unions and federations.

NORTHAM: Sifton worries what happens if Vietnam doesn't live up to those obligations.

SIFTON: Will the U.S. have the capacity and the desire, the will, to actually enforce its terms against Vietnam?

NORTHAM: The TPP agreement will now go to Congress for review. Jackie Northam, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Jackie Northam is NPR's International Affairs Correspondent. She is a veteran journalist who has spent three decades reporting on conflict, geopolitics, and life across the globe - from the mountains of Afghanistan and the desert sands of Saudi Arabia, to the gritty prison camp at Guantanamo Bay and the pristine beauty of the Arctic.
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