Turnbull lobbies US Congress to pass TPP


news Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull overnight told business executives in the United States that he would be lobbying US Congress to pass the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership treaty during his visit to Washington DC, despite recent reports claiming that the treaty will deliver very little benefit to Australia.

The TPP is a controversial trade agreement among twelve Pacific countries which reached agreement in early October last year after years of negotiations. The treaty is controversial because it forces countries such as Australia to adopt rules such as investor-state dispute mechanisms which can allow corporations to sue governments for taking certain actions, as well as introducing new intellectual property controls.

Digital rights activists globally have fought hard to block the TPP over the past seven years that it has been being negotiated. One of the last chance to do so appears to be in the United States, where the US Congress has yet to formally ratify the treaty and many MPs on both sides of the US Congress oppose it.

Overnight in the US, Turnbull — currently on his first visit as Prime Minister to the nation’s capital to meet with US President Barack Obama and others — spoke at a breakfast event held by the US Chamber of Commerce.

In the speech — available in full online — Turnbull praised the TPP in strong terms.

“I know that TPP is a controversial issue in this city,” said Turnbull. “But I’d simply say this – the TPP is a very critical part of America’s continued presence in the Asia- Pacific.”

The Prime Minister said the “ingenuity, the entrepreneurship” of American companies had created the “digital world” that existed today.

“Americans should be so proud of what they have achieved,” he added. “So proud of the prosperity their commitment to freedom, to open markets, to rule of law around the world has delivered. And so confident, that as those markets are opened, their businessmen and women, their entrepreneurs, their scientists, their engineers will be able to compete with the best – and outpace most of them.”

“The reality is, the TPP offers opportunity to the United States. There is very little at risk from freedom for such a strong, innovative economy as this. And there is so much to gain in our region because I say to you that the more we can tie the economies of our region together – the more connected they become, the more transparent they become, the stronger and more reliable the rule of law is in each country, the more of that interdependency – the greater the cost of anyone seeking to disrupt them.”

For these reasons, Turnbull said, when he was speaking to US legislators “later today”, he would be ” encouraging them to support the TPP”.

In a joint press conference with Obama, Turnbull also mentioned the TPP.

“It is much more than a trade deal,” Turnbull said. And I think when people try to analyse it in terms of what it adds to this amount of GDP, that’s important, but the critical thing is the way it promotes the continued integration of those economies. Because that is as important an element in our security, in the maintenance of the values, which both our countries share as all of our other efforts, whether they are in defence or whether they are in traditional diplomacy.”

Obama also explicitly mentioned the TPP during his conference with Turnbul.

“We’ll have a chance to talk about TPP,” he said, with respect to Turnbull. “We are both part of the driving force that created this rules-based system that is now being prepared to ratify among the various nations. It is going to be good for our economy. It is going to be good for our workers and our businesses. And it reaffirms that in order for us to thrive in the 21st century, particularly economies that are respectful of rule of law and concerned about labour rights and environmental rights, it’s important for us to be making the rules in this region, and that’s exactly what TPP does.”

“And I know that the Prime Minister has an agenda to spur additional innovation and investment in science and technology in Australia, which in this economy is going to be vital for any economy to succeed. So I’ll be interested to hear his plans, and maybe offer my thoughts about the work that we’re doing to continue to make sure that our economy is a dynamic, knowledge-based economy.”

The Prime Minister’s advocacy of the deal to the US Congress comes as the World Bank has recently released a report purporting to show that the TPP would barely advantage Australia, boosting Australia’s economy by only about 0.7 percent by 2030. The United States will similarly not benefit strongly from the TPP, while other countries — such as Vietnam, Malaysia and New Zealand — will reap more rewards.

Separately in the US, the Prime Minister also announced new measures to promote ties on cyber-security between Australia and the US.

Not surprising to see Turnbull advocating for the TPP — but it is a little disappointing. Australia does not stand to gain much from the TPP, according to the World Bank — and it sure as hell does have a lot to lose.

Image credit: Office of Malcolm Turnbull


  1. Not surprising to see Turnbull advocating for the TPP </q

    Not surprising at all considering the Liberal party is reliant on corporations for the bulk of its political funding and it's the corporations that effectively drove the development of the TPP. If it gets signed the Corporations win, Citizens, lose!

    • I doubt there is a significant Lib/Lab divide on the TPP.

      Which is disappointing to say the least.

  2. The TPP would be a disaster for people on both sides of the Pacific in AUS and US, so Turnbull advocating for it while on his US jaunt, emphasises his traitorship to ordinary people.

  3. “The treaty is controversial because it forces countries such as Australia to adopt rules such as investor-state dispute mechanisms which can allow corporations to sue governments for taking certain actions”

    So does this mean open season for the Tabacco companies to sue us again in court for plain packaging?

  4. “despite recent reports claiming that the treaty will deliver very little benefit to Australia.”
    In keeping with Liberal tradition.


  5. Was that the price PM paid for Obama being nice to him. Putting pressure on US government more benefit Obama than to us.

  6. We’re importing the worst features of American business practices – the deregulated financial and labour markets, the overly-restrictive, innovation-killing IP regime which America’s own IP scholars are saying has gone too far, the insanity of pharmaceutical monopolies that hold the sick hostage and let the poor die, and the transfer of power away from representative governments and instead towards multinational corporations. The TPP will replace the federal legislature and the high Court as the highest authorities in Australia, delivering us instead to the mercy of unelected, secretive, laughably corruptable corporate arbitration panels.

    I don’t object in principal to a system of global governance, as long as that system has its roots in a form of representation that can limit its potential for abuse. ISDS is not that system. Its design guarantees that its powers will be abused, and that’s exactly what has happened to the developing countries which have been subjected to its judgements.

    All this sovereignty sacrificed for what? So that America can set rules that keep the BRICS in a box, keep those billions of people poor while American corporations continue to extract wealth from the global economy?

    Screw America. Screw this traiterous government and most especially screw the system of legalised bribery that has turned our elected representatives and media in to slaves of the wealthy hyperclass.

    Make sure your vote goes to a party or independent who wants to end political donations. It’s our only escape from this trap.

  7. Turnbull is untrustworthy. In league with Obama. He is not an elected prime minister and noted for his devious nature.

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