TPP – Stop Corporate Power Grab
Photo Credit: Expose the TPP
Have you heard or read about the TPP, the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement?
This proposed free trade area of the Pacific Rim grew out of an initiative launched by the governments of Brunei, Chile, New Zealand, and Singapore back in 2006. They were soon joined at the negotiating table by the United States (Feb 2008), Australia (Nov 2008), Peru (Nov 2008), Vietnam (Nov 2008), Malaysia (Oct 2010), Mexico (Jun 2012), Canada (Jun 2012), and Japan (Mar 2013).
Together, these twelve nations represent nearly 40 percent of global GDP and about one-third of all global trade, larger than the European Union (EU) as a regional trade block.
Do you live in one of these twelve countries? Is your country considering joining the TPP negotiations? Does your country trade or do any business with any of these countries? If so, you may have cause for concern.
After 19 rounds of negotiations, each member nation must now vote the terms of the TPP Agreement into law. On 9 January 2014, the US Senate Committee on Finance (see their latest release) presented a Bill to Congress seeking renewal of the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) or fast track legislation to allow our President to speed up approval of the TPP Agreement. Under fast track authority, Congress has up to 90 days to vote on the Agreement. This offers little time for congressional oversight and public debate.
With only five of its 29 chapters pertaining to trade issues, the TPP Agreement is not a traditional free trade agreement. Outlines of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement published by the Office of the US Trade Representative indicate legislation will also cover environmental protection, financial regulations, government procurement policy, intellectual property, labor rights, and telecommunications.
What is unusual and alarming is that the TPP rounds of negotiations have been shrouded in secret. Members of Congress, governors, state legislators, the press, civic organizations, and we-the-public have been left out in the dark. On the other hand, multinational corporations have had privileged access during negotiations and to the full text of this Agreement. No doubt, they have played a crucial role in framing the terms of this Agreement.
The only knowledge we-the-public have about some of the terms of the TPP is through five leaked documents. These include the draft Investment Chapter (Public Citizen verified June 2012), draft text of the Intellectual Property Rights Chapter (WikiLeaks Nov 2013), two documents showing the state of the negotiations (WikiLeaks Dec 2013), draft text of the Environment Chapter (WikiLeaks Jan 2014), and the Report from the Chairs for Environment Chapter (released Jan 2014).
Based on what little we now know about the TPP, the diagnosis is not good. In addition to more job losses, increased threats to our environment and health, exposure to unsafe foods and products, we will face even greater challenges from global corporate power that already shackles our government.
I am very concerned about the TPP.