If the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP) is signed at the end of this year, it may rewrite the rules of the global economy for the foreseeable future. That's because the TPP, currently being negotiated between the U.S. and eight Pacific rim countries, will likely remain open for other countries to join—as Canada, Mexico and Japan have already expressed interest in doing, even though they will not be permitted input into the agreement. Negotiating further bilateral trade agreements, a process that draws intense public scrutiny, could become altogether unnecessary for Washington. But as negotiators resumed TPP talks in San Diego yesterday, they were met by a coalition of labor, environmental and Occupy groups intent on stopping the mega-deal, glossed by its critics as “NAFTA on steroids.”

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