The Trans-Pacific Partnership (also known as the TPP) is a trade agreement between 12 countries designed to encourage trade between them. On February 4th officials from each country involved met in Auckland New Zealand, and amidst protests in the city, signed the agreement.

The deal reduces or removes nearly 18,000 import taxes on a wide range of goods and is designed to encourage trade as well as make it easier. The deal also includes commitments to help small and medium sized businesses understand and benefit from the agreement.

Critics of the deal say that it is designed to benefit large corporations. Concerning the internet they say it contains “extensive negative ramifications for users’ freedom of expression, right to privacy and due process, as well as hindering peoples’ abilities to innovate“.

Suspicion of the deal grew from the fact it was negotiated in private and contains anti-copyright measures far stricter than ones currently in place. Concerns have also been raised over the power it gives corporations to sue governments who try to implement state run services, like healthcare and education.

While the deal has been signed by the officials present at the meeting, it still has to be ratified by each individual countries governments, which will have to institute the required policy changes.