The Free Trade deal with the United States of America is due to be signed at the end of January.
A deal means you give away something you've got for something you haven't got! So, what is our Government giving away to get the USA to partly open its markets to our agricultural exports?
It could well be copyright extension from 50 years to 70 years (in the case of movies, to 95 years) which goes well beyond the international copyright treaty. Drafts of other free trade deals being negotiated with the US reveal that term extension is often a prerequisite. Such a deal could have Australians forking out tenfold more in copyright licence fees (The Age 'Next' 11.11.03).
Developing countries are looking to us to resist being pressured by the US into extending its copyright term because it will be a further detrimental barrier for them in the accessing of information and education in the print and digital arena.
All Australian libraries, universities, theatres, researchers and students will be heavily affected. Lots of works, like those of composer Bela Bartok who died in 1945, currently out of copyright and in the public domain, would be taken back into the hands of private monopoly copyright holders.
The public should be told what the actual deal involves, and debated, before being signed, Mr. Truss.Signed: Kendall Lovett
Photo taken by Kendall Lovett, Melbourne, 2003To: The Letters Editor,
The situation created by the refusal of the Saudis to accept the 57,000 live sheep from Australia on the Cormo Express is likely to resurface. It was not that the sheep were suffering from scabby mouth that they were refused. The disease was a convenient excuse.
According to some farmers in the trade, the Federal Government has to accept the blame for the situation. It’s payback –to punish Australia for taking part in a completely unnecessary war in Iraq-- they suggest.
Obviously, what’s left alive of this shipment of sheep is coming back to Australia to be slaughtered in a secure quarantine environment. And undoubtedly, the meat industry employees Union is correct in claiming that all meat processors exporting to the Middle East employ halal accredited slaughterers (Letters 1.10.03). However, the consumers of such chilled or frozen halal meat in the Middle East are restaurants, hotels and relatively wealthy people with refrigeration. The rest of the population want hot meat freshly killed in the market because they don’t have refrigeration (Insight, 27.9.03). It’s all a matter of affordability and culture.
Prime Minister Howard says he has no intention of banning the export trade in live Australian sheep. Nevertheless, what will be his reaction if the 50,000 loaded in Fremantle aboard the Al Kuwait, or a subsequent shipment from Australia, is refused as further payback?Kendall Lovett,
No doubt you are aware of this proposed partnership which scares me as it must scare others like me when they learn that it proposes to give multinational drug companies power to demolish Australia's Phamaceutical Scheme (PBS) and deprive all Australians of cheaper generic alternatives to branded drugs. It would be bad enough for us but goodness knows what the poorer countries like Africa and India will do if they and other multinational industries including those in oil and power get their way.
I noticed that Australia is yet to agree to the jurisdiction of this international tribunal so I urge you to read this article and maybe help the Government to decide to join the community push against this anti-democratic agreement for the sake of all of us who depend on the PBS. Sincerely, Ken Lovett.
by Andrew Gavin Marshall. (Article appeared mid-November 2012 in USA.)
Luckily for the populations and societies that will be affected by the agreement, there are public research organizations and alternative media outlets campaigning against it – and they’ve even released several leaks of draft agreement chapters. From these leaks, which are not covered by mainstream corporate-controlled news outlets, we are able to get a better understanding of what the Trans-Pacific Partnership actually encompasses.
For example, public interest groups have been warning that the TPP could result in millions of lost jobs. As a letter from Congress to United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk stated, the TPP “will create binding policies on future Congresses in numerous areas,” including “those related to labor, patent and copyright, land use, food, agriculture and product standards, natural resources, the environment, professional licensing, state-owned enterprises and government procurement policies, as well as financial, healthcare, energy, telecommunications and other service sector regulations.”
In other words, as promised, the TPP goes far beyond “trade.”
Dubbed by many as “NAFTA on steroids” and a “corporate coup,” only two of the TPP’s 26 chapters actually have anything to do with trade. Most of it grants far-reaching new rights and privileges to corporations, specifically related to intellectual property rights (copyright and patent laws), as well as constraints on government regulations.
The leaked documents revealed that the Obama administration “intends to bestow radical new political powers upon multinational corporations,” as Obama and Kirk have emerged as strong advocates “for policies that environmental activists, financial reform advocates and labor unions have long rejected for eroding key protections currently in domestic laws.”
In other words, the already ineffective and mostly toothless environmental, financial, and labor regulations that exist are unacceptable to the Obama administration and the 600 corporations aligned with the TPP who are giving him his orders.
The agreement stipulates that foreign corporations operating in the United States would no longer be subject to domestic U.S. laws regarding protections for the environment, finance or labor rights, and could appeal to an “international tribunal” which would be given the power to overrule American law and impose sanctions on the U.S. for violating the new “rights” of corporations.
The “international tribunal” that would dictate the laws of the countries would be staffed by corporate lawyers acting as “judges,” thus ensuring that cases taken before them have a “fair and balanced” hearing – fairly balanced in favor of corporate rights above anything else.
A public interest coalition known as Citizens Trade Campaign published a draft of the TPP chapter on “investment” revealing information about the “international tribunal” which would allow corporations to directly sue governments that have barriers to “potential profits.”
Arthur Stamoulis, the executive director of Citizens Trade Campaign, explained that the draft texts “clearly contain proposals designed to give transnational corporations special rights that go far beyond those possessed by domestic businesses and American citizens... A proposal that could have such broad effects on environmental, consumer safety and other public interest regulations deserves public scrutiny and debate. It shouldn’t be crafted behind closed doors.”
Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, a public interest organization, undertook an analysis of the leaked document on investment and explained that the international corporate tribunal would allow corporations to overturn national laws and regulations or demand enormous sums in compensation, with the tribunal “empowered to order payment of unlimited government Treasury funds to foreign investors over TPP claims.”
Even under NAFTA, over $350 million has been paid by NAFTA-aligned governments to corporations for “barriers” to investment “rights,” including toxic waste dumps, logging rules, as well as bans on various toxic chemicals.
Because let’s be clear: for corporations, such regulations and concerns over health, safety and environmental issues are perceived solely as “barriers” to investment and profit. Thus their “government” would sue the foreign government on behalf of the corporation, on the premise that such regulations led to potential lost profits, for which the corporation should be compensated.
The TPP allows the corporations to directly sue the government in question. All of the TPP member countries, except for Australia, have agreed to adhere to the jurisdiction of this international tribunal, an unelected, anti-democratic and corporate-staffed kangaroo-court with legal authority over at least ten nations and their populations.
Further, TPP countries have not agreed on a set of obligations for corporations to meet in relation to health, labor or environmental standards, and thus a door is opened for corporations to obtain even more rights and privileges to plunder and exploit. Where corporate rights are extended, human and democratic rights are dismantled.
One of the most important areas in which the TPP has a profound effect is in relation to intellectual property rights, or copyright and patent laws. Corporations have been strong advocates of expanding intellectual property rights, namely, their intellectual property rights.
Pharmaceutical corporations are major proponents of these rights and are likely to be among the major beneficiaries of the intellectual property chapter of the TPP. The pharmaceutical industry ensured that strong patent rules were included in the 1995 World Trade Organization agreement, but ultimately felt that those rules did not go far enough.
Dean Baker, writing in the Guardian, explained that stronger patent rules establish “a government-granted monopoly, often as long as 14 years, that prohibits generic competitors from entering a market based on another company’s test results that show a drug to be safe and effective.” Baker noted that such laws are actually “the opposite of free trade” since they “involve increased government intervention in the market” and “restrict competition and lead to higher prices for consumers.”
Essentially, what this means is that in poor countries where more people need access to life-saving drugs, and at cheaper cost, it would be impossible for companies or governments to manufacture and sell cheaper generic brands of successful drugs held by multinational corporate patents. Such an agreement would hand over a monopoly of price-controls to these corporations, allowing them to set the prices as they deem fit, thus making the drugs incredibly expensive and often inaccessible to the people who need them most.
As U.S. Congressman Henry Waxman correctly noted, “In many parts of the world, access to generic drugs means the difference between life and death.”
The TPP is expected to increase such corporate patent rights more than any other agreement in history. Generic drug manufacturers in countries like Vietnam and Malaysia would suffer. So would sales of larger generics manufacturers in the U.S., Canada, and Australia, which supply low-cost drugs to much of the world.
While the United States has given up the right to negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical corporations (hence the exorbitant price for drugs purchased in the U.S.), countries like New Zealand and even Canada to a lesser extent negotiate drug prices in order to keep the costs down for consumers. The TPP will grant new negotiating privileges to corporations, allowing them to appeal decisions by governments to challenge the high cost of drugs or to go with cheap alternatives. Referring to these changes, the U.S. manager of Doctors Without Borders’ Access to Medicines Campaign stated, “Bush was better than Obama on this.”
But that’s not all the TPP threatens: Internet freedom is also a major target.
The Council of Canadians and OpenMedia, major campaigners for Internet freedom, have warned that the TPP would “criminalize some everyday uses of the Internet,” including music downloads as well as the combining of different media works. OpenMedia warned that the TPP would “force service providers to collect and hand over your private data without privacy safeguards, and give media conglomerates more power to send you fines in the mail, remove online content – including entire websites – and even terminate your access to the Internet.”
Also advanced under the TPP chapter on intellectual property rights, new laws would have to be put in place by governments to regulate Internet usage. OpenMedia further warned that, from the leaked documents on intellectual property rights, “there can be heavy fines for average citizens online,” adding: “you could be fined for clicking on a link, people could be knocked off the Internet and web sites could be locked off.”
The TPP, warned OpenMedia founder Steve Anderson, “will limit innovation and free expression.” Under the TPP, there is no distinction between commercial and non-commercial copyright infringement. Thus, users who download music for personal use would face the same penalties as those who sell pirated music for profit.
Information that is created or shared on social networking sites could have Internet users fined, have their computers seized, their Internet usage terminated, or even get them a jail sentence. The TPP imposes a “three strikes” system for copyright infringement, where three violations would result in the termination of a household’s Internet access.
So, why all the secrecy? Corporate and political decision-makers study public opinion very closely; they know how to manipulate the public based upon what the majority think and believe. When it comes to “free trade” agreements, public opinion has forced negotiators into the darkness of back-room deals and unaccountable secrecy precisely because populations are so overwhelmingly against such agreements.
An opinion poll from 2011 revealed that the American public has – just over the previous few years – moved from “broad opposition” to “overwhelming opposition” toward NAFTA-style trade deals.
A major NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll from September of 2010 revealed that “the impact of trade and outsourcing is one of the only issues on which Americans of different classes, occupations and political persuasions agree,” with 86% saying that outsourcing jobs by U.S. companies to poor countries was “a top cause of our economic woes,” with 69% thinking that “free trade agreements between the United States and other countries cost the U.S. jobs.” Only 17% of Americans in 2010 felt that “free trade agreements” benefit the U.S., compared to 28% in 2007.
Because public opinion is strongly – and increasingly – against “free trade agreements,” secrecy is required in order to prevent the public from even knowing about, let alone actively opposing, agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership. And this, as U.S. Trade Representative Kirk explained, is a very “practical” reason for all the secrecy.
Part III of Marshall's investigative series on the Trans-Pacific Partnership will appear Monday 26 NOVEMBER 2012.
This article was published at NationofChange at:
http://www.nationofchange.org/why-so-secretive-trans-pacific-partnership-global-corporate-coup-1353687546 All rights are reserved.
The Green Shadow Cabinet stands united in opposition to the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and is committed to defeating this Obama administration effort to enrich and empower global corporations at the expense of people and planet.
For three years, the Obama administration has engaged in 16 rounds of secret negotiations to develop the TPP. Those negotiations have included hundreds of representatives of global corporations. The TPP negotiations have excluded representatives of the vast majority of the American people. It is a fact that the TPP is global economic policy for the 1%, at the expense of the 99%.
Today, all five branches and 81 members of the Green Shadow Cabinet begin to act in concert to not only defeat the TPP, but to show America that another government with another global economic agenda is possible. There is an alternative to the corrupt political establishment that produces economic terrors like the TPP. Our Cabinet is proof of that alternative. Daily this week, the Green Shadow Cabinet will release over a dozen statements in opposition to the TPP; these statements describe the threats posed by the TPP, and offer better alternatives. This month, our Cabinet members will begin participating in the broader movement against the TPP through actions and events across the United States and urge all Americans to join this effort. We are bringing our networks and communities into this critical struggle.THE TPP THREATENS ALL OF US
If you oppose the industrial farming practices of Monsanto, Cargill and other giant food and agribusiness corporations, with their intense use of toxic herbicides and other harmful chemicals, production of untested genetically modified food, efforts to control the seed supply and patent life, their pollution of the water, air, soil and food supply, then you must oppose the TPP.
If you oppose the actions of the big banks and financial institutions that led to the world economic crash, exploding wealth inequality, risky investments that endanger the economic future, and their ability to dominate national economies, then you must oppose the TPP.
If you are committed to protecting the rights of working people to a living wage, the right to organize, and to safe working conditions, then you must oppose the TPP.
If you favor a free and open Internet where free speech is protected and creativity and communication flourish, then you must oppose the TPP.
If you understand that healthcare is a human right and that the inflated prices of pharmaceutical drugs should not be protected by law, then you must oppose the TPP.
If you want to see the air, waters and lands protected from toxic chemicals and pollution, and know that the ecological crisis of species extinction and environmental breakdown must be reversed, then you must oppose the TPP.
If you would live in a world where local, state, and national governments are allowed to take urgent action to deal with the global climate crisis, and to implement a Green New Deal, then you must oppose the TPP.
We look forward to working with you in the coming months to defeat the Trans-Pacific Partnership and to prevent its sister trade agreement, the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, from following the same path. The first step is to stop enactment of Trade Promotion Authority legislation, also known as “Fast Track,” that would prevent Congress from holding hearings on the TPP or amending the TPP. There must be no end-run around the Constitution, or the right of the American people to petition the government for redress.DEFENDING THE NEW WORLD
We know that another world is possible. We are building that world every day through local governments, cooperatives, community organizations, and publicly owned financial institutions.
Those who defend corporate capitalism also understand that another world is possible, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership is their attempt to foreclose our new world. The TPP gives major corporations legal personhood to sue in transnational courts dominated by judges who themselves are lawyers for major corporations. Under the TPP, corporations would be able to claim that environmental, labor, financial, health and other laws cost them profits, and to extract damages from our governments - and from us as taxpayers - if they enforce those laws.
The current administration in Washington D.C. is committed to passing the TPP and to defeating America’s grassroots movement for economic democracy. The Green Shadow Cabinet is committed to defeating the TPP, and to strengthening the U.S. democracy movement. We and our allies are the many, they are the few. Let us defend our communities and our future and stop the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
For more information please visit Greenshadowcabinet.us
There is a battle building between the people of the planet and transnational corporations. The battleground is the Trans-Pacific Partnership. It is a battle the people can win if we act in solidarity.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a global corporate coup that makes corporations more powerful than governments and undermines our national sovereignty. While the public and media are not allowed to see the text, and members of Congress only receive limited, heavily restricted access, 600 corporations have been advising the president and suggesting amendments as they have full access to the documents. This includes some of America’s worst corporate citizens:
Monsanto, Walmart, Bank of America, JP Morgan, Phiser and big Pharma, Cargill, Exxon-Mobil, Chevron among them.
The Green Shadow Cabinet is putting forward a critical, in-depth analysis of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (see links below). Top people in their fields – movement leaders, academics, researchers and activists – are writing about specific aspects of the TPP and how it affects virtually every aspect of American life. The Green Shadow Cabinet is about half way through its analysis with more statements coming over the rest of the week and into the next two weeks. This is the type of in-depth analysis we need from people informed on the topic so that the public becomes informed and joins the campaign to stop the TPP.
Some members of Congress are making their way through the bureaucratic process that allows them to see the text, but does not allow their staff to do so, nor does it allow elected officials to make copies, take notes with paper or computer; and they are not allowed to share it with their constituents. It took Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) six weeks of negotiation with the US Trade Representative to finally got to review the text on June 17th. He was only allowed to see an edited version of the text and was not allowed to bring any staff with him.
Grayson told the Huffington Post that the Obama administration classifies the documents to prevent discussion of the contents, “They maintain that the text is classified information. And I get clearance because I'm a member of Congress, but now they tell me that they don't want me to talk to anybody about it because if I did, I'd be releasing classified information.” While we appreciate Grayson for going as far as he has, Members of Congress need to break the silence and share the contents with the American people.
From what has been leaked, the TPP will give corporations control over every aspect of our lives and make them more powerful than governments. This non-transparent approach to something so far-reaching is an assault on US democracy. As Senator Elizabeth Warren said when questioning the new Trade Representative:
“I have heard the argument that transparency would undermine the Trade Representative’s policy to complete the trade agreement because public opposition would be significant,” Warren explained. “In other words, if people knew what was going on, they would stop it. This argument is exactly backwards. If transparency would lead to widespread public opposition to a trade agreement, then that trade agreement should not be the policy of the United States.”
Grayson pointed out the irony and hypocrisy of the Obama administration’s approach: “What I saw was nothing that could possibly justify the secrecy that surrounds it. It is ironic in a way that the government thinks it's alright to have a record of every single call that an American makes, but not alright for an American citizen to know what sovereign powers the government is negotiating away.”
The movement to stop the TPP calls on the administration to be transparent about this important treaty. The administration needs to:1. Release the text that has been agreed on.
The other essential step is for the administration to allow real democracy, to let the checks and balances of the US Constitution to be allowed to work. They should state publicly their support for transparency, checks and balances and Constitutional government by not pursuing “Fast Track” which short-circuits the Constitution and prevents Congress from doing its job.
If you want to join the campaign to stop the TPP sign up at
Below are excerpts from the statements released so far by the Green Shadow Cabinet, to get the full statement click on the headline. Visit the website for more statements in coming days. The first statement was signed by the full cabinet and it is a call for solidarity for all those concerned with economic and social justice as well as protecting the planet from ecological collapse to join together to stop the TPP.
The Green Shadow Cabinet stands united in opposition to the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and is committed to defeating this Obama administration effort to enrich and empower global corporations at the expense of people and planet.
For three years, the Obama administration has engaged in 16 rounds of secret negotiations to develop the TPP. Those negotiations have included hundreds of representatives of global corporations. The TPP negotiations have excluded representatives of the vast majority of the American people. It is a fact that the TPP is global economic policy for the 1%, at the expense of the 99%.
Today, all five branches and 81 members of the Green Shadow Cabinet begin to act in concert to not only defeat the TPP, but to show America that another government with another global economic agenda is possible. There is an alternative to the corrupt political establishment that produces economic terrors like the TPP. Our Cabinet is proof of that alternative.
U.S. trade pacts must clearly protect the right of workers to organize and form unions to protect their jobs, health and safety and communities in which transnational corporations operate. It is only strong worker protections that can prevent such tragic situations from occurring that we have seen in the Union Carbide factory explosion in Bhopal, India that killed thousands in 1984; the recent tragedies in Bangladesh — the building collapse in April and the fire that killed more than a thousand workers in November, and the untold numbers in the U.S. and worldwide who have been victims of cancer alleys created by the oil, chemical, energy and agribusiness industries.
The desire of the Bush and the Obama administrations to pass the TPP is apparently an effort to create a coalition of nations to match China’s exploding economy and increased military and political influence in the region. On Nov 12, 2011, Obama spoke before the Summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum and stated that, “… we’ve turned our attention back to the Asia Pacific region.” This is being accomplished through two vehicles: the TPP and the “Pivot to Asia,” meaning a redeployment of American priorities and military forces away from Europe and the Middle East to Asia. Also in the same month, this time speaking before the Australian Parliament, Obama said: “As a Pacific nation, the United States will play a larger and long-term role in shaping this region and its future.” The United States now has 320,000 troops in the Pacific region, and the Pentagon has promised there will be no reductions as troops are drawn down in Afghanistan and other parts of the world.
The much touted, at least by multinational corporations and some governments, Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, has grave consequences for the so-called poor of the world, including those in the United States. This agreement, clouded in secrecy, has been characterized as something akin to “NAFTA on steroids!” But, what exactly does it mean for the poor and working class of the United States?
Suppose a Taiwanese company wanted to open a factory in California to make clothing. They propose importing workers who would accept a daily wage of $10, would not spend any money in the plant to meet U.S. occupational health and safety regulations, and would be rabid in opposing workers’ attempts to meet collectively to discuss their grievances or to bargain collectively with management.
The right to have the means to sustain one’s physical life is a foundational principle of human rights. The right to work and earn a livable wage in conditions commensurate with human dignity that allow for securing adequate food, clothing, housing, medical care and necessary social services is the basis for material sustainability and a dignified life.>H3>The Top Secret deal between 11 countries that will affect your life
You know one of the most powerful weapons the government can use against us? It’s not missiles, or gas, or propaganda, or threatening to release all the nude TSA body-scanner images of you as Christmas cards. Nope. …It’s boredom. When evil stuff is boring, mind-blowingly BORING, people don’t give a crap about it. Boring evil is the worst! People care less than Vladimir Putin at an Amnesty International convention.
Small businesses and entrepreneurs are foundations of strong communities. Yet as with previous international trade agreements, small businesses are not at the table negotiating the details of Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement. Instead, the TPP is being drafted by the representatives of more than 600 major corporations. Unlike the owners of cooperatives and community businesses, the owners and managers of big capital are unconcerned about the economic impact of trade policies on local communities and the people who live in them.
Kevin Zeese is a participant in PopularResistance.org which will be announcing a campaign to stop the TPP in the very near future; and a member of the Green Shadow Cabinet where he serves as Attorney General.
Something is looming in the shadows that could help erode our basic rights and contaminate our food. The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) has the potential to become the biggest regional Free Trade Agreement in history, both in economic size and the ability to quietly add more countries in addition to those originally included. As of 2011 its 11 countries accounted for 30 percent of the world’s agricultural exports. Those countries are the US, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Canada, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Viet Nam. Recently, Japan has joined the negotiations.
Six hundred US corporate advisors have had input into the TPP. The draft text has not been made available to the public, press or policy makers. The level of secrecy around this agreement is unparalleled. The majority of Congress is being kept in the dark while representatives of US corporations are being consulted and privy to the details.
The chief agricultural negotiator for the US is the former Monsanto lobbyist, Islam Siddique. If ratified the TPP would impose punishing regulations that give multinational corporations unprecedented right to demand taxpayer compensation for policies that corporations deem a barrier to their profits.
There appears not to be a specific agricultural chapter in the TPP. Instead, rules affecting food systems and food safety are woven throughout the text. This agreement is attempting to establish corporations’ rights to skirt domestic courts and laws and sue governments directly with taxpayers paying compensation and fines directly from the treasury.
Though TPP content remains hidden, here are some things we do know:
• Members of Congress are concerned that the TPP would open the door to imports without resolving questions around food safety or environmental impacts on its production.
• Procurement rules specifically forbid discrimination based on the quality of production. This means that public programs that favor the use of sustainably produced local foods in school lunch programs could be prohibited.
• The labeling of foods containing GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) will not be allowed. Japan currently has labeling laws for GMOs in food. Under the TPP Japan would no longer be able to label GMOs. This situation is the same for New Zealand and Australia. In the US we are just beginning to see some progress towards labeling GMOs. Under the TPP GMO labels for US food would not be allowed.
• In April 2013, Peru placed a 10-year moratorium on GMO foods and plants. This prohibits the import, production and use of GMOs in foods and GMO plants and is aimed at safeguarding Peru’s agricultural diversity. The hope is to prevent cross-pollination with non-GMO crops and to ban GMO crops like Bt corn. What will become of Peru’s moratorium if the TPP is passed?
• There is a growing resistance to Monsanto’s agricultural plans in Vietnam. Monsanto (the US corporation controlling an estimated 90% of the world seed genetics) has a dark history with Vietnam. Many believe that Monsanto has no right to do business in a country where Monsanto’s product Agent Orange is estimated to have killed 400,000 Vietnamese, deformed another 500,000 and stricken another 2 million with various diseases.
Legacies of other trade agreements that serve as a warning about the TPP have a history of displacing small farmers and destroying local food economies. Ten years following the passage of NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) 1.5 million Mexican farmers became bankrupt because they could not compete with the highly subsidized US corn entering the Mexican market.
In the same 10 years Mexico went from a country virtually producing all of its own corn to a country that now imports at least half of this food staple. Mexican consumers are now paying higher prices for Monsanto’s GMO corn. With little or no competition for large corporations Monsanto, DuPont and Syngenta now control 57 percent of the commercial food market.
While the TPP is in many ways like NAFTA and other existing trade agreements, it appears that the corporations have learned from previous experience. They are carefully crafting the TPP to insure that citizens of the involved countries have no control over food safety, what they will be eating, where it is grown, the conditions under which food is grown and the use of herbicides and pesticides.
If the TPP is adopted the door will be open wider for human rights and environmental abuse. Some of the things we should expect to see include:• more large scale farming and more monocultures;
Together these are a step backwards for human rights and a giant step towards Monsanto’s control of our food. Please pass the word to others about the TPP as most Americans are unaware of this trade agreement or its ominous effects if passed.
Chances are that you've never heard of the Trans-Pacific-Pact/Free Trade Agreement, aka the TPP-FTA, and that is exactly the way the Obama administration (and its corporate bosses)-- would like to keep things. The mainstream (read: corporate), media has utterly left the American public in the dark on this skunk of a deal which surrenders our national, state and local sovereignty to corporate interests. The TPP as it is known in secretive corporate circles represents the most anti-democracy assault devised by trade representatives from some 600 corporations, including Halliburton, Chevron, PhaRMA, Comcast and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).The secrecy factor...hiding TPP's anti-democracy powers behind 'national security'...
The TPP-FTA (Trans-Pacific-Pact Free Trade Agreement) is the latest brainchild of the 1%. Negotiations for each round have been so secretely guarded that paramilitary teams surrounded each locale with weaponized helicopters looming overhead.
A 'weapon of mass deception' specifically engineered to surrender our representative democracy to corporate rule; the TPP has been negotiated in secret since 2008 and is now nearing completion in its 17th round.
President Obama has allowed both of his US Trade Representative(s) (first Ron Kirk and now Mike Froman); to use the illegitimate veil of 'national security', and the accompanying overclassification of information, to shut out the public and Congress from 'negotiations.'
No amount of public relations salesmanship from Obama can sell this stinker of a trade deal--once the facts hit the light of day. Ironically, the facts only surfaced--because of a leak--another whistleblower.
Leaked official documents clearly show that parties involved agreed to keep all draft and contributing documents secret, until four years after the final ratification of the agreement ( or when negotiations collapse);-- EXCEPT for the final text. During the entire length of ongoing negotiations--now in it's 17th round, Congress was locked out of any meaningful discussion or investigation, while over 600 corporate chieftains and advisors have all but scripted the entire document down to the last punctuation mark.Congress locked out....
Congress was not only 'locked out'--it was never invited to the party. (While it's true that the USTR 'permitted' limited viewing of the texts by members of Congress--none were allowed to have expert staffers in various negotiated areas of concern, present. Furthermore, recording devices were expressly forbidden.
The deal which would surrender national, state and local sovereignty to a secret tribunal of three corporate attorneys,--excluding all but corporate interests, was blessed with impunity on the profane altar of 'national security.' Leakers would be punished as 'enemies of the state'--with a real possibility of jail time--and that threat included members of congress. Congressional leaders questioning this 'corporate coup' though few--were refreshingly forthright. Senator Ron Wyden (D) Oregon led the charge, followed by Senator Elizabeth Warren (D) Mass. and Congressman Alan Grayson (D) Fla.Senator Ron Wyden denied access...blew the whistle on secrecy....
Senator Ron Wyden is the reigning Chair of the Senate Finance Committee's Subcommittee on International Trade, Customs, and Global Competitiveness, the very committee assigned jurisdiction of treaties like the TPP went on record from the floor of Congress stating how ...
...."the majority of Congress is being kept in the dark as to the substance of the TPP negotiations, while representatives of U.S. corporations--like Halliburton, Chevron, PhaRMA, Comcast and the Motion Picture Association of America--are being consulted and made privy to details of the agreement."
Senator Wyden further reiterated the duty of Congress to review, regulate and ratify international trade negotiations. Wyden also countered the specious claim made by the US Trade Representative that providing access to negotiation documents would...'endanger national security,' by instructing his staff to cooperate with security needs. To quote Senator Wyden; ..."As the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee’s Subcommittee on International Trade, Customs, and Global Competitiveness, my office is responsible for conducting oversight over the USTR and trade negotiations. To do that, I asked that my staff obtain the proper security credentials to view the information that USTR keeps confidential and secret. This is material that fully describes what the USTR is seeking in the TPP talks on behalf of the American people and on behalf of Congress. More than two months after receiving the proper security credentials, my staff is still barred from viewing the details of the proposals that USTR is advancing."
Senator Wyden further reminded the president the authority granted Congress on the regulation of international trade. ..."It may be the U.S. Trade Representative’s (USTR) current job to negotiate trade agreements on behalf of the United States, but Article 1 Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution gives Congress – not the USTR or any other member of the Executive Branch – the responsibility of regulating foreign commerce. It was our Founding Fathers’ intention to ensure that the laws and policies that govern the American people take into account the interests of all the American people, not just a privileged few."
And yet to date, only a few members of Congress have gained access to the very treaty they are constitutionally assigned to regulate. Consistent with Senator Wyden's criticism--the privileged few (namely corporate lobbyists) are granted unfettered input to the very treaty which would deliver a final death blow to our economy and surrender our democracy to the whims of corporate heads.Why the secrecy?...
If the TPP-FTA is a legitimate deal--why this unprecedented level of secrecy? Why is the US Trade Representative refusing to answer congressional inquiries? Why are US Congressmen such as Darrell Issa and Alan Grayson or Senator Ron Wyden being locked out of negotiations? As usual with this president--the facts are buried in legal jargon and double-talk. Additionally, the now historic abuse of the national security 'classification system' has reached ludicrous levels which would make Karl Rove--blush like a schoolgirl in a whorehouse.
Congressman Grayson spoke to the secrecy and the most egregious elements in the TPP itself, in a telephone interview with this reporter.
..."They (USTR) set out to do it this way, knowing full well that if they shed any light on what they were doing there would be a lot of hell to pay." (phone interview 06/21/13)
Grayson was allowed 'limited' access after some six weeks of official requests--access to negotiation texts that any member of Congress by law--had a right to review. After reviewing some very limited text Grayson spoke to the outrageous and unlawful giveaways in the TPP, and the cover-up maintained by the USTR.
..."..."I've seen an element of the current rounds..they are binding ...I will tell you that they have every reason to be concerned about them...the backlash...there would be a public backlash"..."what they said uh.. indicated was classified and they stick to appear to----the classification system by calling the shots in secret, and by threatening people with every nightmare discomfort ...including imprisonment...except for the 500 corporate lobbyists.."
Alan Grayson may be blunt--but he's honest. When asked about the effects of the TPP on our country if pushed into law--he stated frankly that
..."TPP establishes what are called ... procedures that are essentially" abrogating our democracy'... Grayson explained further that...
"...they (TPP international tribunal) replace our five step established court systems for claims against the government with an alternative system that is wired for the benefit of multinational corporations"
Grayson added that the TPP extends into matters which are not under the purview of trade relations. He added that the TPP ..."goes far beyond anything even remotely resembling trade and systematically interferes in areas such as finance, that most people would regard as having no connection ....to matters of trade." The agreement...." extends well beyond trade in a manner that systematically benefits multinational corporations to the detriment of health, safety, the right to organize, and other fundamental human rights and progressive values. "
Ironically, Grayson and the others couldn't explain why the TPP poses these dangers, as this information has been 'classified' by the USTR.
In spite of Grayson's fair and rational argument--the USTR under President Obama remains unmoved. In fact, the administration wants to finalize the TPP 'agreement' this October, pushing Congress to a simple up and down vote, consistent with corporate demands.The rush to finalize this surrender of sovereignty...
In addition to this transfer of power from nations to corporations; the TPP negotiating teams are rushing to finalize the document before any meaningful discussion or review.
...".The TPP is poised to become the largest Free Trade Agreement in U.S. history. The twelve countries currently involved — the United States, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam — already cover approximately 40% of the global economy, and the TPP also includes a “docking mechanism” that could enable other countries to join over time. The TPP’s seventeenth major round of negotiations concluded in Lima, Peru last month, and negotiators are racing to complete their work by an October deadline set by President Barack Obama and others."Fast Track ...and a news blackout by the corporate owned media....
The sheer fact that the SEVENTEENTH round of negotiations has been completed with no coverage in the mainstream corporate media only deepens the suspicion. President Obama is pushing Fast Track authority specifically engineered to ram through Congress a simple up or down vote on the entire finished document minus any substantive investigation or debate. 'Fast Track' dating back to the Nixon administration, denies Congress the right to study, debate or otherwise amend any piece of legislation pushed and signed off by any president. In essence, the Obama administration is abusing the Fast Track idea to demand a blank check from Congress. So, what specific powers does the proposed TPP take away from our democratically elected government and grant to an international corporate tribunal?Powers granted to corporations via the TPP....
The TPP, if approved by the Senate and signed by Obama will nullify multiple areas of US law. It is the concrete realization of 'corporate personhood', providing the 'corporate person' in discussion--is an absolute monarch or emperor. The TPP, negotiated by corporate lobbyists and minus any substantive congressional and public oversight, grants multinational corporations a final veto over a country's laws, in multiple areas not necessarily limited to trade issues. No country, including the US will be able to enforce laws or regulations in many areas that 'impede' corporate rights. This is 'corporate personhood' writ large, abusive and sociopathic.
The highlights of the leaked TPP drafts include a triad of powers that collectively enslave any nation or state. The triad begins with the alleged corporate 'right' to challenge any law and demand taxpayer compensation for any policy which hypothetically could undermine estimated or expected future profits. This could extend to any area of law, environmental, labor, public health, food sovereignty, currency standards, financial regulations, consumer standards and even civil liberties.
Leaked draft texts further describe 'investor protections' that incentivizes additional offshoring of jobs with undisclosed 'benefits.' Any regulation of finance capital (aka Wall Street) such as banning derivatives, currency manipulation, and other 'financial weapons of mass destruction'; would be prohibited. Any member nation's ability to mitigate financial warfare via currency manipulation and deliver financial stability is neutered. 'Shock and awe' globalization is delivered to our door, in a plain, pornographic brown wrapper, courtesy of the TPP.
The TPP grants the rights of a conquering army to foreign investors and multinational corporations. The leaked text contains 26 chapters, yet only two chapters cover actual 'trade' issues, such as tariffs and quotas.
The US would be conquered, minus a single fired shot, as the USTR and Obama sign away our rights. The TPP text obligates the federal government to serve as the bully club, forcing states and local communities into conforming with this unmitigated surrender of our sovereignty.
The thousand plus page document of detailed restraints forced on federal, state and local governments is not restricted to trade. Everything from intellectual property rights, to labor issues, to public health, to environmental regulations is forced into subjugation under this legal excuse for corporate rule. Our own federal government is reduced to a mercenary force, pointing the gun to our heads. Nothing is safe. This includes public lands and resources.TPP... a tool for stealing ever decreasing public resources....
Once again, leaked documents of the draft TPP texts reveal US property rights protections eradicated in favor of international standards (which have yet to be articulated). These mysterious international standards would be relegated to the whims of the unelected international tribunal, for which there is no right of appeal. In theory, public lands in the US could be summarily handed over to international corporate interests.
This could translate into foreign interests using the unelected tribunal to 'legally' steal US public resources such as potable water, reducing the US to a colony or vassal state. Natural resource battles over resources like water have begun in Michigan, thanks to the predecessor 'Emergency Manager' law.Nestle vs. Ice Mountain...
Mecosta, Michigan won a ten year battle against Nestle/Ice Mountain in 2009. Concerned with excessive water diversion by the corporate titan; a grassroots group named Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation (MCWC) defeated Nestle in court. Nestle appealed and the appeals court ruled that MCWC won on concerns of environmental harm, but the corporate water interests of Nestle had to balance with the landowner's interests.'
This was the beginning of the end, as corporate forces realized they needed a stacked deck in the face of growing citizen grassroots/netroots mobilization. Not content to abide by a legitimate process; corporate forces pushed the Emergency Manager Act.Michigan's 'Emergency Manager Law' the predecessor to TPP...
In March of 2011, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder signed into law the 'Emergency Manager Law.' Written by corporations and corporate funded non-profits under the tutelage of the Mackinac Center; the Emergency Manager Law authorized the shredding of labor contracts, privatization of public services and the consolidation and DISSOLUTION of locally elected governments. It has been touted as 'financial martial law.'
It does not escape my attention that this 'law' would have serviced Nestle's needs quite handily. Though several thousand protesters marched against this bill; the corporate owned media ignored the uprising. The Michigan 'Emergency Manager Law' is a mini-me version of the TPP. It is ...'democracy under siege.'Government by international corporate tribunal...
At the core of this despicable 'agreement' is the international corporate tribunal designated to be the final authority over any future disputes--at least on paper. The tribunal is to be staffed by the same corporate attorneys who service the multinational corporations. Conflict of interest is not only obvious---TPP makes it... a way of life. No right of appeal exists and deliberations are...once again...secret.
In theory, any and all laws a foreign corporation finds irritating are taken to the tribunal. The most egregious crimes against humanity---forced or slave labor, child labor, massive dumping of toxic pollutants, murders committed by subcontractors, police abuse, censorship, and the criminalization of dissent--are subjugated to a tribunal of three corporate attorneys. The 'economic royalists' would be in the driver's seat.
TPP grants the tribunal the right to set aside previous court decisions or the results of public elections. Corporate personhood is elevated to emperor and the concept of ..."consent of the governed" is reduced to a trite joke.
According to Lori Wallach at Public Citizen, these same foreign tribunals..."would be staffed by private sector lawyers who rotate between acting as "judges" and representative corporations, suing governments, posing major conflicts of interest."Citizens Trade Campaign has legitimate solutions...
In March of 2013, watchdog group, Citizens Trade Campaign sent a letter to every member of Congress which was co-signed by over 400 additional activist groups. The letter was a stinging rebuke of the TPP and the mechanisms used by the Obama administration to ram this illegitimate treaty through--namely the abuse of the national security classification system and the Nixonian, Fast Track Authority. The letter also outlined conditions, which must be remediated and the mechanism used. It was a clarion call for accountability and transparency, which respected the right to self-govern.
Groups signing on this letter ranged from unions such as the International Brotherhood of Teamsters--to environmental groups such as Food and Water Watch--to religious groups such as the Holy Cross International Justice Office. Opponents may scream foul and claim these are 'special interest groups,' but unlike the 'special interest' corporate groups pushing the TPP--these groups are collectively fighting to reverse the global 'race to the bottom.'
Citizens Trade Campaign has identified 8 criterion which must be addressed and a separate section dealing with the eradication of Fast Track and the reform of the trade agreement negotiation and approval process.8 Reform Measures to Ensure a Fair Negotiation and Approval Process for Future Trade Policies...
1.) ..."Prioritization of human and labor rights." Trade agreements must protect human and labor rights (including free speech, assembly, press), above the rights of investors. There should no tolerance for forced or slave labor, child labor, dangerous 'sweatshop' working conditions, or political violence used by corporate or subcontractors to suppress collective bargaining. Environmental degradation in an era of strained resources leading to resource wars should be banned. The rights of indigenous peoples to self-determined governance is to be respected.
2.) ..."Respect for local development goals and the procurement policies that deliver on them." Trade agreements should never impede or nullify the rights of local governments to promote development, which benefits and reflects the needs and preferences of environmental, social or political goals. Furthermore, all trade agreements must respect and maintain prevailing requirements for wages, environmental, labor and human rights standards, and provide policies addressing long-standing inequalities worldwide. In terms of the USA, such trade procurement policies must maintain existing "Buy American" clauses.
3.) ..."Protect food sovereignty." Farmers of each nation or local area are to receive fair compensation. Consumers have a right to access foods which are affordable and safe. Read between the lines--no GMO's cross-polluting organic crops. Any GMO's 'gracing' grocery shelves must be clearly labeled in terms of health risks, ie.-- Monsanto is out of luck. Nations have a right to restrict the dumping of crops at below market prices, or any other unfair trade practices which force family farmers off their land.
4.) ..."Access to affordable medicine." Generic drugs and treatments allow critical access to lifesaving medicine. Extending drug patents with statistically insignificant formulary tweaks, via trade agreements is a clear violation of the standards articulated in the Doha Declaration regarding access to medicine. Translation: the Doha Declaration should be respected in spirit, and the tweaking of formularies in minor cosmetic ways (which do not change the drug in any substantive and proven manner), as a vehicle to extend an existing patent or create a new one-- should be deemed fraudulent and thus forbidden.
5.) ..."Safeguards against currency manipulation." The US and other signatory governments have the right to implement measures which reverse 'trade-distorting' currency manipulation. Trade agreements must include rigorous 'rule of origin' provisions, to ensure that only nations complying with the trade agreement's rules--benefit from said agreement.
6.) ..."Space for robust financial regulations and public services." "Trade pacts should set floors, not ceilings, when it comes to the regulation of banks, insurance companies, hedge funds and other financial service providers." Translation : No language in any agreement which could be 'interpreted' as mandating deregulation or privatization of any service--public or private. Language must be 'clear and specific' on the terms of any trade agreement. No tortuous arguments using vague language which justifies the nullification of public elections. In other words, laws like the 'Emergency Manager Act', promoted by the privatizers at the Mackinac Center--would be rejected as treasonous and anti-democratic.
7.) ..."Improved consumer and environmental standards." ..."Trade agreements should set floors, rather than ceilings, when it comes to environmental, food and product safety and consumer right-to-know measures." To use the vernacular of the street---DUH.
8.) ..."No elevation of corporations to equal terms with governments." Trade agreements should never provide corporations or investors 'special powers' engineered to circumvent and nullify the domestic judiciary. Corporate challenges of domestic laws or court decisions through the use of nuisance SLAPP suits and tortuous arguments exploiting vague contract language must be outlawed.
The 'investor-state' tribunal which empowers rotating teams of three corporate attorneys to demand ..."unlimited taxpayer compensation for foreign firms" claiming a signatory nation's laws ..."undermine their expected future profits must be eliminated." Legal terms including 'investment,' 'expropriation,' and 'minimum standard of treatment,' must be more narrowly and clearly defined to ensure the rights of governments to legislate in the public interest.
This demand is key. It is a clear repudiation of the 'investor-state' and the 'investor-state' tribunal. No wiggle room here--the very core of the TPP is denounced in this simple statement. The legally concocted concept of an 'investor-state' and the mediation tribunal of corporate attorneys--is the head of the TPP snake.
This single element surrenders any nation's sovereignty and reduces it to a vassal colony.
This 'investor-state' device-- is PLANTATION POLITICS in all its ugliness. The only difference between the Nazi brown-shirted enforcers and the mediation tribunal--is the fact that the attorneys for the tribunal--probably wear Brooks Brothers.Citizens Trade...on preventing future 'abrogations of democracy,'..
Citizens Trade Campaign and the allied 400 groups signing on to this appeal are demanding the following rigorous levels of accountability and transparency with regards to the negotiation of trade agreements.
First, all TPP draft texts must be made public. No president, including Obama should possess sole trade policymaking authority.
Secondly, Fast-Track authority must be permanently eradicated. (Fast-Track is a Nixonian relic which relinquishes Congress' 'exclusive constitutional authority' to ..."regulate commerce with foreign nations" and transfers this power to executive branch and the USTR). Under Fast-Track the executive can sign the bill or treaty in question and then force a single up-down vote on the issue.
Fast-Track strips Congress of its right to investigate, debate and amend any of the agreement's provisions. In terms of the TPP--Fast-Track is being pushed to deceive Congress into--signing away our sovereignty.To quote Congressman Grayson...
..."there is no other area that is done this way......"I'm not only referring to negotiations but ..."no fast-track immigration bill, no fast-track for other legislation ..."we don't fast-track appropriations bills, we don't fast-track anything else...why should we fast-track the sovereignty .."the reason why they do it in secret is because our 'sell-out trade-representatives" met with other 'sell-out trade representatives" from other countries "(Source : Phone interview 06/21/13) Any trade agreement process must contain...
*Requirements that the USTR (US Trade Representative).." consult with all interested stakeholders," on all potential areas theoretically impacted by the proposed agreement, including (but not limited to) : pharmaceutical access, food sovereignty, currency manipulation, balance of trade, job creation or loss, expansion opportunities, environmental stewardship and human and labor rights;
* Expansion of the engagement process beginning with the TPP immediately;
*Creation of an unbiased and public process which verifies that objectives negotiated by Congress are actually present and achieved in the final document; and
*Creation of a verification process publicly certifying that any proposed agreement or provisions of the agreement, actually reflects the public interest. A congressional majority is required to certify that the agreement is in the public interest of the US.
*Finally, negotiated objectives must have been publicly witnessed and met, BEFORE the executive is granted authority to sign the agreement, binding the US to its terms.
Freshman Senator Elizabeth Warren stated the argument for transparency and public discussion, including the right of dissent-- most clearly.
"I appreciate the willingness of the USTR to make various documents available for review by members of Congress, but I do not believe that is a substitute for more robust public transparency. If transparency would lead to widespread public opposition to a trade agreement, then that trade agreement should not be the policy of the United States." - Sen. Elizabeth Warren
Precisely.ABOUT JEANINE MOLLOFF
Jeanine Molloff is a veteran urban educator specializing in communications disorders. She moonlights as a political commentator on various issues including civil liberties in an age of ‘terrorism’, ecological justice, collateral damage in war zones, economic equity and education. Jeanine has published with Huffington Post, OpEdNews, FireDogLake, Counterpunch and Huffington Post Union of Bloggers. In an era of state and corporate sanctioned censorship; she believes that journalism which demands answers to the tough questions is the last remaining bulwark of democracy. Now more than ever we need the likes of I.F. Stone over the insipid voices of celebrity infotainment. Jeanine works and lives in St. Louis, Missouri.
Countries involved - at the moment - are: Japan, Brunei, Chile, Canada, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the US, Vietnam and Australia.
If you read all the articles below you will get some idea of what is being planned and how it will affect our lives in the future.
It sounds very grim and if one looks at what has leaked out so far, one can estimate that this is just the tip of a very nasty iceberg. The Titanic iceberg will be nothing compared with this one, and woe will be to us when we gradually understand the impacts being made on so many things we take for granted.
Just one example to frighten the pants off us old people - the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme as we know it will probably vanish altogether and subsidised medicines will be off the agenda and our expenses will be out of proportion to what we get as pensioners.*********************************************
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) has been called “NAFTA on steroids” – and for good reason.
Negotiated behind closed doors by the governments of a dozen countries (including ours) colluding with corporate interests, this secret "trade" deal would eviscerate broad swaths of regulations that protect consumers, workers, the environment and the soundness of our financial system. And it would set up a legal regime where corporate profits trump the policy priorities of sovereign governments.
The first stage in the plan to pass the TPP is a big push for Congress to pass fast-track trade authority, which would short-circuit the typical legislative process when trade deals like the TPP come up for a vote.
Tell Congress: Say NO to fast-track trade authority. Click here to automatically sign the petition.
Fast-track trade authority would allow the president to sign a trade deal before Congress has an opportunity to review or approve it. Then the president could send it to Congress for an up-or-down vote. Fast track would mean there would be no meaningful hearings, limited debate and absolutely no amendments to the deal. And there would be tremendous pressure on Congress to rubberstamp anything the president signs.
It's the job of Congress to fully vet trade deals and ensure they work for everyone, not just giant corporations. In fact the Constitution gives Congress exclusive authority over trade. And it would be a deeply irresponsible abdication of responsibility for Congress to pass fast track when we know the TPP is coming down the pike, especially when we know the consequences of the TPP could be disastrous.
That is why hundreds of groups including National Nurses United, the Sierra Club, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Democracy for America, and Public Citizen have spoken out against fast track.
Under the TPP, developing countries would lose access to lifesaving medicines. Unsafe foods and products could pour into our country while we’re powerless to stop them. Internet freedom would be a joke. Gone would be the days when the United States could regulate coal exports. And the excesses of our crazy intellectual property laws that privilege corporate control over innovation would be both exacerbated and extended internationally.
You might think such a far-reaching proposal would be subject to intense public debate. But the text of the proposed deal is considered classified by our government and even members of Congress have been given extremely limited access to it.
We know the little we do know about the deal because drafts of some of its chapters were leaked last year.
Yet, while the government has kept the public and Congress largely in the dark about the TPP, it has given 600 corporate advisers access to the full text of the proposal.
Pressured by giant corporate interests that stand to make huge amounts of money on the deal, and faced with a public that has purposefully been kept ignorant about this deal, it’s not hard to see how the TPP could be rammed through Congress if fast-track trade authority were in place.
In fact, the reason the corporate lobby is pushing fast track is that they know the TPP could not get through Congress without this extraordinary power grab. So the first thing we need to do to fight back is to ensure Congress does not tie its own hands by passing fast-track trade authority.
Tell Congress: Say NO to fast-track trade authority. Click the link below to automatically sign the petition:
http://act.credoaction.com/go/1630?t=5&akid=8684.3932350.2FFxCTMatt Lockshin, Campaign Manager
The giant multinationals are pushing a trade deal that will literally let them bypass our laws. This deal is called the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and it is coming at us in the next few months. The corporations are trying to switch this gravy-train onto the “Fast Track.” For them this deal is the light at the end of the tunnel of democracy and self-government that has been trying to reign them in. We need to get this runaway train back on the rails or We the People will be begging for scraps thrown from the caboose. Call your Senators and Representative today and let them know that people are paying attention and oppose “Fast Track trade authority.”[...]
If TPP passes it will override American law. Again: we will not be able to pass laws that reign in the corporations. We will not be able to protect our jobs and wages because, as we have seen, companies can just close a factory and move your job to a country that pays very little, doesn’t protect the environment, and doesn’t let working people do anything about it. Of course the giant companies want these agreements — they let them tell us that if we ask for decent wages or benefits they will fire us and move our job out of the country.
Right now because of trade agreements already in effect we are not allowed to make laws even putting information like “dolphin safe” on tuna can labels. El Salvador is being sued by a Canadian mining company for trying to require environmental permits, because of a similar trade agreement. This is what these trade agreements mean to our ability to reign in the giant corporations.
The giant, multinational corporations and their business groups are hopeful that they can push this through. The Financial Times explains, in Obama’s ‘fast-track’ trade push faces congressional delays:
Corporate lobbyists, who have been pushing for a quick and uncontroversial approval of TPA [Fast Track], say they are still confident the talks will be successful.
“We are seeing signs of good support and momentum for TPA legislation in Congress and from the administration,” said David Thomas, vice-president for trade policy at the Business Roundtable, representing big blue-chip companies.
So here is what is coming— soon. Lobbyists for the giant multinationals have been working behind the scenes to slip Fast Track through their friends in Congress. They will argue that the usual process Congress holding hearings, getting everyone’s viewpoint and hearing everyone’s concerns, then amending as needed and carefully considering the bill before a vote (also known as “representative democracy”) will just get in the way of getting this done. They will want as much of this done behind the scenes because regular people will naturally be upset about our Congress handing over their authority like this.***********************************************
Foreign corporations wanting to sue Australian governments will have to cool their heels. New trade minister Andrew Robb says Australia's negotiating position on the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement remains the same despite an election commitment to overturn the blanket prohibition on ''investor-state dispute settlement'' provisions.
The previous government declared point-blank that Australia would never again sign an agreement that included the provisions. One of the few trade agreements Australia has signed with such a clause allowed a Hong Kong-based subsidiary of tobacco giant Philip Morris to take Australia to an international tribunal over its plain-packaging laws, despite having lost its case in the High Court.
It is believed the United States was close to accommodating Australia's insistence by carving out an exemption for Australia while the other 10 signatories were bound by the provisions. Australia is the only country to have successfully concluded a trade deal with the US without such a clause, the US-Australia free trade agreement.
The Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement will be the world's biggest.
US companies are enthusiastic users of the provisions. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development says a record 58 cases were under way last year. In one, a US resource company is suing Canadian province of Quebec for imposing a moratorium on coal seam gas extraction while it examines claims of environmental damage.
Opening Australian governments to lawsuits over resource extraction, foreign land purchases, pharmaceutical benefits and health measures is a potential minefield for the new government.
Its policy is to remain ''open to utilising investor-state dispute settlement clauses as part of Australia's negotiating position''.
In a written statement to Fairfax Media, Mr Robb said it would be ''premature to discuss positions we may wish to pursue on this or any issue under discussion in the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement negotiations''.
''In opposition the Coalition stated that it would consider the inclusion of ISDS provisions in free trade agreements on a case-by-case basis. It would be wrong, however, to assume this changes Australia's current position on ISDS in the context of the Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations.''
Mr Robb will attend trade ministers' talks on the Trans Pacific Partnership on the sidelines of the APEC meeting in Bali next month. Prime Minister Abbott will discuss the partnership at a meeting of leaders including US President Obama in Bali.*******************************
Seeing that Mr Abbott is on a roll of saying ''no'', I am hoping he will say ''no'' to the very disturbing provisions of the secretive Trans Pacific Partnership.
If Mr Abbott signs up to it, Australia will find not only its Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme threatened, but also its internet freedoms, and multinational corporations overriding state laws. Peter Martin is to be commended for breaking the media silence on this (''Trade treaty stance the same, despite promise'', 23/9).Noel Wauchope, Caulfield South
Choice recently attended the 18th round of negotiations for the Transpacific Partnership (TPP) in Malaysia and raised concerns the agreement may include provisions that will harm Australian consumers, particularly in the areas of intellectual property and food and health labelling.
The notoriously secretive TPP has been holding its negotiations behind closed doors – the only information available about the TPP have come from leaked drafts.
The TPP currently includes 12 countries – Japan, Brunei, Chile, Canada, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the US, Vietnam and Australia.MADISON CARTWRIGHT
“It is a corporate Trojan horse. The agreement has 29 chapters and only five of them have to do with trade.”
As the federal government shutdown continues, Secretary of State John Kerry heads to Asia for secret talks on a sweeping new trade deal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The TPP is often referred to by critics as "NAFTA on steroids," and would establish a free trade zone that would stretch from Vietnam to Chile, encompassing 800 million people — about a third of world trade and nearly 40 percent of the global economy. While the text of the treaty has been largely negotiated behind closed doors and, until June, kept secret from Congress, more than 600 corporate advisers reportedly have access to the measure, including employees of Halliburton and Monsanto.
"This is not mainly about trade," says Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch. "It is a corporate Trojan horse. The agreement has 29 chapters, and only five of them have to do with trade. The other 24 chapters either handcuff our domestic governments, limiting food safety, environmental standards, financial regulation, energy and climate policy, or establishing new powers for corporations."TRANSCRIPT
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: President Obama announced this week that the U.S. government shutdown would delay his upcoming four-country trip to Asia, but that negotiations on a controversial new trade agreement he hopes to sign by the end of the year will continue to move forward. Obama called the Philippines president Tuesday night to say he would miss his visit, and a spokesperson shared the news with reporters Thursday.
RICKY CARANDANG: Secretary Kerry ... he will go in place of President Obama. President Obama personally called President Aquino to tell him—to explain to him why he could not make the visit.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: John Kerry will attend Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meetings next week in Indonesia, where he’ll push for the completion of a sweeping new trade deal called the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the largest international trade deal since the creation of the World Trade Organization in 1995. The administration hopes to pass the measure through Congress by the end of the year using its Fast Track authority to limit lawmakers to an up-or-down vote. AMY GOODMAN: The TPP is often referred to by critics as "NAFTA on steroids" and would establishing a free trade zone that would stretch from Vietnam to Chile, encompass 800 million people—about a third of world trade and nearly 40 percent of the global economy. While the text of the treaty has been largely negotiated behind closed doors, more than 600 corporate advisers reportedly have access to the measure, including employees of Halliburton and Monsanto.
Well, for more, we’re joined by Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch.
Lori, welcome back to Democracy Now! Just explain what the TPP is.
LORI WALLACH: Well, one of the most important things to understand is it’s not really mainly about trade. I guess the way to think about it is as a corporate Trojan horse. The agreement has 29 chapters, and only five of them have to do with trade. The other 24 chapters either handcuff our domestic governments, limiting food safety, environmental standards, financial regulation, energy and climate policy, or establishing new powers for corporations.
For instance, there are the same investor privileges that promote job offshoring to lower-wage countries. There is a ban on Buy Local procurement, so that corporations have a right to do sourcing, basically taking our tax dollars, and instead of investing them in our local economy, sending them offshore. There are new rights to, for instance, have freedom to enter other countries and take natural resources, a right for mining, a right for oil, gas, without approval.
And then there’s a whole set of very worrisome issues relating to Internet freedom. Through sort of the backdoor of the copyright chapter of TPP is a whole chunk of SOPA, the Stop Online Privacy Act, that activism around the country successfully derailed a year ago. Think about all the things that would be really hard to get into effect as a corporation in public, a lot of them rejected here and in the other 11 countries, and that is what’s bundled in to the TPP. And every country would be required to change its laws domestically to meet these rules. The binding provision is, each country shall ensure the conformity of domestic laws, regulations and procedures.
Now, the only reason I know that level of detail is because a few texts have leaked, and I have been following the negotiations and grilling negotiators from other countries to try and find between the lines what the hell is going on; otherwise, totally secret.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, Lori, about that secrecy, even members of Congress have been severely limited in what they can learn, and that’s only after the revelations about the total secrecy that this whole process began with. Could you talk about what members of Congress are allowed to know and how?
LORI WALLACH: Well, what’s really important for people to know—and this gets to what you started out with about Fast Track. Congress has exclusive constitutional authority over trade. It’s kind of like the Boston Tea Party hangover. After having a king just impose tariffs, in that case on tea, the founders said, "We need to put all things about trade, international commerce, in the hands of Congress, the most diffuse part of the elected representation, not the executive, the king." So Congress has all this authority. They’re supposed to be exclusively in control. But until this June, they were not even allowed to see the draft text.
And it was only after a big, great fuss was kicked up by a lot of members—150 of them wrote last year—that finally members of Congress, upon request for the particular chapter, can have a government administration official bring them a chapter. Their staff is thrown out of the room. They can’t take detailed notes. They’re not supposed to talk about what they saw. And they can, without staff to help them figure out what the technical language is, look at a chapter. This is in contrast to, say, even what the Bush administration did. The last time we had one of these mega-NAFTAexpansion attempts was the Free Trade Area of the Americas. And in that instance, in 2001, that whole draft text was released to the public by the U.S. government on the official government websites. So, this is extraordinary secrecy, and members of Congress aren’t supposed to tell anyone what they’ve read. So, for instance, you know, Alan Grayson, who was one of the guys who helped to get the text released, Alan Grayson said, "I can tell you it’s very bad for the future of America. I just can’t tell you why." That’s obscene.
This would rewrite wide swaths of our laws. And again, it’s mainly not about trade. So, if we have this agreement in effect, for instance, it would be a big push for fracking. Now you would say, "Why fracking?" Because it doesn’t allow us to have bans on liquid natural gas exports. Or, if this were in effect, we couldn’t ensure the safety of the food we feed our families. We have to import, for instance, fish and shrimp that we know, from the limited inspection that’s done, is extremely dangerous from certain kinds of growing ponds that are contaminated, etc., in some of the TPPcountries. Or, for instance, some of the financial reforms where the banksters were finally regulated would be rolled back. All of this, and it would be privately enforceable by certain foreign corporations.
AMY GOODMAN: Let me ask you about a bill that didn’t make it through Congress, but the question is, is it incorporated into TPP? And that’s SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act. First explain what it is, and talk about where it fits in here.
LORI WALLACH: So, the Stop Online Piracy Act was a vehicle basically to take away some of our rights on the Internet. It would have criminalized what they call inadvertent, small-scale, non-commercial copying. And the example would be, for instance, Juan, I had you over to dinner. You liked the recipe I had. I happened to have taken it for $2 I paid for it off of a paid website. And you said, "Lori, can you send me that recipe?" And, of course, I said, "Yeah," and I sent it to you. That is officially a copyright violation. I should say, "You have to go pay $2 and get it yourself, Juan." But, in fact, it’s small-scale. I didn’t sell it. It’s not commercial. I didn’t send it to a lot of people.
That kind of activity, under SOPA, as well as any number of things we do all the time—making a copy, or like a buffer copy that our computer would make to look at a video, or breaking a digital lock—for instance, if we bought software, but we wanted to run it on Linux—all of those things would be considered criminal activities. We’d face huge fines, and our carriers—Google, etc.—would have to take us off of service, to black us out. So, a huge limit on Internet freedom.
That whole mess was defeated in Congress in a wonderful citizen uprising. A chunk of that is now stuck in the copyright chapter of SOPA—of TPP. So, they call TPP "son of SOPA." In a lot of countries around the TPP region, citizens have fought to have good laws that actually provide them access and don’t allow that kind of control. So, that is a chunk. To give you an idea of how varied the problems are, that’s a chunk of what is in there.
Now, the thing about that Fast Track you mentioned, Fast Track is not in effect. Fast Track is an extraordinary delegation of Congress’s authority. So if we don’t want unsafe food, offshore jobs,SOPA, SOPA, SOPA, limits on Internet freedom, the banksters gettings rolled back into deregulation, we have to make sure that Congress actually maintains its constitutional authority to make sure that before this agreement can be signed, it actually works for us. Fast Track is a delegation of authority. President Obama has asked for it, but it only happens if Congress gives it to him.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Lori, what’s been the Obama administration’s position on these negotiations in terms of tobacco? Could you talk about that specifically?
LORI WALLACH: Well, the whole approach of the Obama administration has really been, I don’t know, some combination of heartbreaking and infuriating, because when he was a candidate, President Obama promised he would replace the NAFTA model, and instead they’ve doubled down.
So the tobacco issue is one of those that’s the most gruesome. So, the TPP includes the very controversial investor-state system, which empowers individual corporations to directly sue governments—not in our courts, but in extrajudicial tribunals where three corporate attorneys act as "judges," and these guys rotate between being the judge and being the guys suing the government for the corporation. They’re empowered to give unlimited cash damages from us, the taxpayers, to these corporations for any government action—a regulatory issue, environment, health, safety—that undermines the investor’s expected future profits. Under that system, big tobacco companies have been attacking health regulations. And famously—infamously—these kinds of investor-state cases have extracted billions of dollars and undermined important laws. So, Philip Morris has used this to attack Australia, one of the TPP country’s plain-packaging-of-cigarette laws. So, a lot of the TPPcountries are very worried that they would be basically handcuffed from being able to regulate for health around tobacco. So, the U.S. originally was going to offer an exception. Big tobacco came in and basically won the day. The U.S. pulled away what was a medium exception, put in something that’s really worse than nothing, and then Malaysia came in and actually offered a real exception, which the U.S. is opposing—just like the U.S. is opposing an exception to maintain financial regulations for prudential reasons, just like the U.S. is opposing a real exception to those investor tribunals with respect to health and the environment. It’s incredibly depressing.
The only good news is a bunch of the other countries have basically said, "Basta! We are not going to roll back these things." So the reason there isn’t a deal is because a lot of the other countries are standing up to the worst of these U.S. corporate-inspired demands. You can see the whole lay of this at ExposeTheTPP, www.exposethetpp. There are fact sheets on each of the ways, each aspect of your life the TPP could affect. And if you want to get down into the weeds and have long papers explaining and/or information from other countries, you can go to tradewatch.org. That’s tradewatch.org. Between those two sets of information, you’ll see there’s almost no part of your life or the things you care about that this agreement couldn’t undermine. And again, trade is the least of it.
AMY GOODMAN: Lori Wallach, we want to thank you very much for being with us. Lori Wallach is director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch. When we come back, President Obama is about to hit a new milestone: two million people deported under his administration. We’ll talk about it.
Amy Goodman is the host of "Democracy Now!," a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on more than 900 stations in North America. She is the author of "Breaking the Sound Barrier," recently released in paperback and now a New York Times best-seller.
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