The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement is being negotiated in secret. Well, not exactly secret — our trade negotiators know what is being negotiated, other countries know, heads of the huge multinational corporations get to know, but members of our Congress and We, the People don’t get to know. We don’t get to know because if we did know it would make us sick.
The TPP is a trade agreement between the United States, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. It is meant to be a “docking agreement” that other Pacific Rim countries including Japan, Korea and China can enter into later. When completed and enacted the TPP would be the largest Free Trade Agreement in U.S. history
The treaty is being negotiated in secret. In typical DC-elite fashion our Congress and We, the People are kept from the process, while heads of multinational corporations are informed. The Citizens Trade Campaign has obtained some leaked documents, showing that the treaty is heading into dangerous anti-democracy territory. From CTC, in Newly Leaked TPP Investment Chapter Contains Special Rights for Corporations,
The new texts reveal that TPP negotiators are considering a dispute resolution process that would grant transnational corporations special authority to challenge countries’ laws, regulations and court decisions in international tribunals that circumvent domestic judicial systems.
From the CTC website:
Here are some of the questions yet to be answered:
- Labor rights: Will the Trans-Pacific FTA include labor standards based on International Labor Organization conventions, and if included, how will they be enforced?
- Investment Provisions: Will the Trans-Pacific FTA include so-called “investor-state” provisions that allow individual corporations to challenge environmental, consumer and other public interest policies as barriers to trade?
- Public Procurement: Will the Trans-Pacific FTA respect nations’ and communities’ right to set purchasing preferences that keep taxpayer dollars re-circulating in local economies?
- Access to Medicines: Will the Trans-Pacific FTA allow governments to produce and/or obtain affordable, generic medications for sick people?
- Agriculture: Will the Trans-Pacific FTA allow countries to ensure that farmers and farm workers are fairly compensated, while also preventing the agricultural dumping that has forced so many family farmers off their land?
A group calling itself the Biotic Barf Brigade just surfaced, releasing an online video showing their “barf in” that took place during the TPP negotiations held in Virginia last week.
“That negotiators refuse to tell the public what they’ve been proposing in our names should make everyone a little queasy,” said Chuck Grossman, one of the activists. “But the leaked U.S. proposals to block access to generic medications and to hand corporations new tools for attacking environmental protections are downright revolting.”
Watch this video – of you can stomach it:
Others Warning About TPP
In June, over 130 Members of the House, led by Representatives Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and George Miller (D-CA) sent a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk pointing out the TPP’s rollback in transparency from several past U.S. trade negotiations and calling for greater Congressional and public oversight.
The Communications Workers of America (CWA) is trying to raise public awareness of TPP. A recent statement says,
“The TPP is shaping up to become one of the biggest and most destructive trade agreements because it could lead to even more offshoring of our manufacturing and service sector jobs, downward pressure on wages and benefits and the subversion of our labor rights and environmental protections,” said CWA Chief of Staff Ron Collins. “The public is unaware that the TPP even exists because negotiators are keeping proposals hidden. Americans deserve the right to know what’s being proposed in our names.”
An Electrinic Freedom Foundation (EFF) statement, Congress Members Demand USTR Tell the American People What’s Going on With the TPP and its Impact on Digital Freedom, (click through for links), warns that the agreement appears to hard freedom of speech, privace, due process and other rights We, the People currently hold,
As EFF has reported in the past (check out our infographic), the TPP is a secretive, multi-national trade agreement that threatens to extend restrictive IP laws across the globe and rewrite international rules on IPR enforcement. TPP is a terrible model for a trade agreement for the 21stcentury, and its main problems are two-fold:
(1) IP chapter: Leaked draft texts of the agreement show that the IP chapter would have extensive negative ramifications for users’ freedom of speech, right to privacy and due process, Internet liability, and hinder peoples’ abilities to innovate.
(2) Lack of transparency: The entire process has shut out multi-stakeholder participation and is shrouded in secrecy, which has raised concerns on its constitutionality.
Economist Dean Baker in The Guardian, in The Pacific free trade deal that’s anything but free,
In reality, the deal has almost nothing to do with trade: actual trade barriers between these countries are already very low. The TPP is an effort to use the holy grail of free trade to impose conditions and override domestic laws in a way that would be almost impossible if the proposed measures had to go through the normal legislative process. The expectation is that by lining up powerful corporate interests, the governments will be able to ram this new “free trade” pact through legislatures on a take-it-or-leave-it basis.
[. . .] In principle, the TPP is exactly the sort of issue that should feature prominently in the fall elections. Voters should have a chance to decide if they want to vote for candidates who support raising the price of drugs for people in the United States and the rest of the world, or making us all into unpaid copyright cops. But there is no text and no discussion in the campaigns – and that is exactly how the corporations who stand to gain want it.
What To Do
Learn about the TPP — it is one more erosion of your democratic right! Visit the organizations listed above, sign their petitions and get on their mailing lists. Start bugging your Senators and members of Congress NOW, demanding a restoration of democracy — this treaty needs public, academic, labor and non-profit input. It needs to exclude the multi-nationals from the negotiating process. And when ready, demand that your Senators vote with We, the People not They, the Big Giant Multinationals and the 1-percenters they represent.