On Thursday (Feb. 4) morning in New Zealand, trade ministers from a dozen Pacific Rim nations will meet to officially sign the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The agreement, reached in October 2015, lowers trade barriers such as tariffs and is billed by proponents as a way to raise living standards and promote transparency and economic growth. But the deal has plenty of detractors, too, who say it gives too much power to large corporations.
Were the agreement to be signed on, say, the US west coast, anti-TPP protestors would surely congregate and stage an energetic, headline-grabbing demonstration. But the signing will take place in Auckland, New Zealand—the world’s most isolated big city by some measures, and among the most by others—the point being, it’s really far away from other big cities.
Of course, the deal still has to be ratified in each nation, which could take years. Further, there have been and will be more protests—both in New Zealand and elsewhere. A few demonstrations are expected in Auckland’s city center tomorrow, which workers have been advised to avoid. Protests were also held around the country this past weekend, with demonstrators worried that the deal will limit their government’s own ability to set economic policy. But whether by design or accident, sheer distance will mean the signing can proceed in (relative) peace.