Late last week a largely anonymous group of officials from several major world economies gathered in Washington, most likely in an office a short walk from the White House, to hammer out details of an agreement that is often described as "NAFTA on steroids." In other words, it's a steamroller that will be more crushing to American jobs and the middle class than the wave of outsourcing unleashed by the North American Free Trade Agreement in the 1990s.
They wanted their work to be out of the spotlight, but a small group of activists put a spotlight on the negotiations Friday. Led by Global Trade Watch and Public Citizen, demonstrators highlighted the dangers of the treaty and, in particular, the undemocratic process that will be used to ram ratification of the treaty through Congress.
Melinda St. Louis, international campaigns director for Public Citizen, explained the basics of the Trans-Pacific Partnership in this video interview with OurFuture.org.
We've written extensively about the Trans-Pacific Partnership, even though many of its details have been kept under wraps in a vain attempt to tamp down grassroots opposition. But the Financial Times today reports that internal divisions among negotiating countries are also a major problem. "Officially, Washington insists the TPP can be concluded this year, with some hoping for a breakthrough at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in Bali next month. Unofficially, almost everyone knows that is impossible and that talks will drag on into next year," the FT reports, adding that "the list of controversies is long."
Indeed, the Trans-Pacific Partnership could end up empowering multinational corporations to bypass, among other things, individual countries' efforts to protect the environment, stop price-gouging on live-saving medicines, and maintain equal access to anyone who wants to post content or do commerce on the Internet. Meanwhile, the deal would not do anything to arrest the corporate race to the bottom that is undermining American wages.
That is why a growing number of organizations are saying "flush the TPP" and instead develop a "fair trade" pact that would benefit workers and consumers around the globe, not just corporations.