More Pushback On Multiple Fronts Against TPP and Fast-Track

Dave Johnson

In a Detroit News op-ed this week, Michigan Republican Senate candidate Terri Lynn Land separated herself from most Republican lawmakers and voiced opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement currently being negotiated. Her op-ed included this:

I am discouraged by the direction of the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations.

I am concerned that the Trans-Pacific trade agreement would let exported products from some countries, like Japan, enter the U.S. market easily, but our domestic goods and products would face obstacles entering their markets.

If the Trans-Pacific trade agreement does not ensure reciprocity in market access, it should be postponed.

If other nations will not agree to fair practices, we should not become free trade agreement partners with them.

Bipartisan Letter From 140 Members Of Congress

Last week 140 members of Congress signed a letter asking the White House and TPP negotiators to leave out countries that won’t fully open their markets to all U.S. agriculture products. The letter was led by Devin Nunes, R-Calif. and Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., the chair and ranking member of the House Ways and Means trade subcommittee.

Farm Futures reports that the letter focused on Japan. Japan is demanding exemptions that allow the country to continue tariffs on what they call “sensitive” products. These include pork, beef, dairy, sugar, wheat, barley and rice. Reuters reports that the letter also asked that Canada be removed from TPP negotiations.

Open Letter From Members Of Congress Concerned About Human Rights In Vietnam

Another Congressional open letter was sent this week, this time from 35 members. This letter expressed concerns over Vietnam’s human rights record. The letter said:

Despite its election to the United Nations Human Rights Council, the Vietnamese government has stepped up its crackdown against human rights advocates and people of faith. …

Vietnam has the highest number of political prisoners in Southeast Asia. …

[T]hese individuals had been unjustly imprisoned for years for crimes such as “propaganda against the state” and “using democratic freedoms to injure the national unity.”

…TPP membership [should] not be extended to governments that act against our most fundamental values.

Members Of Congress Concerned About Brunei’s Harsh Punishments

In recent months concerns were expressed over Brunei’s recent adoption of Sharia laws with severe penalties for things like being gay, adultery, pregnancy out of wedlock and insulting the Koran. According to Reuters Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wisc.) is circulating an open letter that says, in part,

“The United States must make it clear that we will not tolerate such abuses,” says the draft, which was seen by Reuters. It is addressed to Secretary of State John Kerry and U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman and says the United States should use its position as the world’s largest economy to push against discrimination and abuses.

“(We) urge you to insist that Brunei address these human rights violations as a condition of the United States participating with them in any further Trans-Pacific Partnership trade negotiations,” the draft letter said.

Former WTO Director-General Warns About TPP

Last Month former World Trade Organization director-general Supachai Panitchpakdi was visiting New Zealand and called TPP and the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) a step backwards in the world trading system:

“TTIP and TPP together could drive the world back into the old days before the WTO was conceived, a world trading system predominated by major trading nations, which was something I thought we tried to adjust with the more democratic participation of membership of the WTO,” said Dr Supachai, who was director-general of the WTO from 2002 to 2005.

Biggest Multinationals Carving Up The Economic World Amongst Themselves

These are just a few of the recent public objections to TPP. The question is can the giant multinational corporations that are using TPP to divide up the economic world amongst themselves overcome the governments they already regard as irrelevant. A significant part of their hope to do so is to force this trade agreement through Congress using “fast track” trade promotion authority.

Public Citizen has an action you can take on fast track. Ask your representative to oppose fast track and fight to get it replaced with a system that works for the people — not the corporations. Public Citizen is asking people to “Email Your Representative to Oppose ‘Fast Track’. We Need a New Way to Make U.S. Trade Agreements That Work for the People — Not the Corporations.” At the link you can enter your zip code to bring up a page that lets you send email to your member of Congress.

Also at the Stop Fast Track website a number of organizations have set up a way to be in phone contact with your representative’s office.

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