Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Agreement and the Stripping of Sovereignty and Oversight
AwN | The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a long discussed trade agreement that seeks to undermine national sovereignty in favor of corporate goals (money) and ethics (money). After five years of secret negotiations the full text of the deal has been released. The TPP would restrict nations' (people's) rights to control what is brought into their country, and the safety or ecological impact of that product. Corporations who abuse the landscape, animals, or people, and market hazardous materials internationally would benefit from less oversight and gain legal recourse in questionable situations to take whatever actions the corporation wants, at the expense of the everything else.
On June 23rd 2015 the Senate of the United States of America approved fast tracking the TPP, which was negotiated in secret. A nation that prides itself on its freedom and justice, left its populace out of the discussion on the TPP and then decided to go ahead and 'fast track' the agreement, to leave less chance for public outcry to defeat the agreement. Obviously this is not the way honest freedom loving nations are run, but it is the way modern corporate America is run, and should tell you all which you need to know about the TPP from the start.
The agreement is held in disfavor by several somewhat diverse groups of people. In a theoretical sense, this agreement seems to override national laws in favor of multinational corporations. While many people would be against this sort of thing, it is particularly abhorrent to people who feel national sovereignty is losing power to whats is becoming a one world government. There is a lot of internet discussion of the 'new world order' and of course this borders on a "conspiracy theory" (I do not mean the term derogatorily) but it is true that powers will seek to consolidate and in doing so at least for a time decrease their potential for losing power. It is not all that fantastic of a notion to think of the strongest nations absorbing the weakest economically so that the powerful becomes more powerful.
Another group that is against the TPP is the healthy (real) food movement. By undermining local regulations, corporations will be able to dictate labeling regulations and quality control. Online and Users Rights groups are also concerned about the TPP. When it comes down to it, pretty much any group that often finds itself at odds with corporate domination is going to have a problem with the TPP.
There are never really great options on how to handle this sort of Government obfuscation of the corporate takeover but there are some things ordinary people can do. Contacting congressional representatives (here is one method) signing petitions (here is one of the more popular) and sharing via social media to raise awareness are all potential ways to fight against the TPP. Remember that politicians are only concerned with reelection, and if they believe this issue is important to their reelection they will usually follow the public interest.
It is not likely that any multi-national trade deal is going to be acceptable to the entire populations of effected countries, but the all or nothing nature of this deal, written in secrecy, with the guidance of massive corporate interests is not a reasonable place to start a fair agreement. The time is now to beginning educating the public at large, and to start applying pressure on the political figures who will ultimately make the decision on this deal.
TPP Text Reveals Broad New Powers for Corporations to Attack Food Labeling Laws
EcoWatch | "The TPP is a giveaway to big agribusiness and food companies that want to use trade deals to attack sensible food safety rules, weaken the inspection of imported food and block efforts to strengthen U.S. food safety standards. The food and agribusiness industries inserted language into the text of the TPP that will undermine U.S. food safety oversight and expose consumers to risky imported foods.
The TPP includes a new provision designed to second-guess the government inspectors who monitor food imports. The so-called Rapid Response Mechanism allows companies to challenge border inspection procedures that companies claim cause unnecessary delay—like holding suspect shipments while awaiting laboratory test results—and demand that a TPP panel of experts review and provide guidance on the inspection. This would create a chilling-effect on rigorous border inspection that would be especially dangerous for problems that are not obvious, like chemical or drug residues that would only appear after more thorough examination and testing."
EcoWatch (May 2015) | Fast track’s original premise was that Congress would tell the Administration what its broad limits were—what features must or must not be included. If the agreement met those standards, Congress would vote it up or down. Congress would not second guess, say, a Japanese concession on rice in exchange for a U.S. concession on auto parts.
But as trade agreements tilted further and further away from the center of public opinion, Congress began setting side-bars that negotiators couldn’t—or didn’t want—to deliver. So the Bush Administration made the Congressional limits advisory only, not binding. Now fast track basically says anything the administration negotiates is exempt from Congressional amendment—even provisions Congress and the public would never have supported.
But this reality had to be concealed from the public. So trade negotiators stopped allowing public release of the terms of the agreements they were negotiating—fearing that if the public and Congress knew what was in a deal being worked out, opposition would increase. (Indeed, Ron Kirk, the first Obama Trade Rep, was blunt: if the text of the treaty was made public, it could never be approved).
EFF | Trade offices involved in negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement have finally released all 30 chapters of the trade deal today, a month after announcing the conclusion of the deal in Atlanta. Some of the more dangerous threats to the public's rights to free expression, access to knowledge, and privacy online are contained in the copyright provisions in the Intellectual Property (IP) chapter, which we analyzed based on the final version leaked by Wikileaks two weeks ago and which are unchanged in the final release. Now that the entire agreement is published, we can see how other chapters of the agreement contain further harmful rules that undermine our rights online and over our digital devices and content.
The Guardian | Under a trade law passed earlier this year, Barack Obama must give the public time to review the text before he signs the agreement and turns it over to Congress for approval. Lawmakers cannot nitpick the deal with amendments. They must simply vote yes or no. Congress is likely to take up the issue next year in the heat of the presidential election campaign.
Obama faces fierce resistance to the deal from within his own Democratic party. Hillary Clinton, who is running for the Democratic presidential nomination, has said she is against it. Her opposition may make it harder for Obama to round up votes.
Huffington Post | Unfortunately, TPP was negotiated through a corporate-dominated process, with representatives of labor, environmental, consumer, human rights and other "stakeholder" groups largely kept away from the table. The negotiations were conducted in secret and the results have been kept secret.
Now all that is in the past (except the continuing secrecy). At some point the actual text of the agreement will be made available to the public. Organizations, academics, experts and regular people will be able to read, analyze and discuss what has been agreed to in our name. We will all be playing catch-up and will have limited time to organize public opposition if that is warranted. So here are a few things to look for to try to help us understand if TPP is good or bad for regular people here and elsewhere, our environment, our economy and our country.
Avaaz Petition | Nearly two million signatures
IBTimes.com How to Fight the TPP (Article from 2013) | [Details several techniques that can be used for activism on the TPP]
Bernie Sanders Stop the TPP Petition | Let’s be clear: the TPP is much more than a “free trade” agreement. It is part of a global race to the bottom to boost the profits of large corporations and Wall Street by outsourcing jobs; undercutting worker rights; dismantling labor, environmental, health, food safety and financial laws; and allowing corporations to challenge our laws in international tribunals rather than our own court system. If TPP was such a good deal for America, the administration should have the courage to show the American people exactly what is in this deal, instead of keeping the content of the TPP a secret.
Public Citizen Actions | Trade officials from the U.S. and eleven Pacific Rim nations—Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam— have been in negotiations cloaked in secrecy. They want to complete a new Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) "free trade" agreement that could eventually include every Pacific Rim nation from China and Russia to Indonesia. America's worst job-offshoring corporations, major global banks, agribusiness, and pharmaceutical giants want this deal to be a corporate power tool with unprecedented attacks on our most basic rights and needs.
MoveOn Petition | We urge Congress to vote no on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). An agreement like the TPP should be negotiated in the full light of day. America must reserve the right to determine our own consumer, health, safety, labor, privacy, and environmental regulations. Do not surrender our rights to trans-national corporations.
Image: The language included in the TPP is more aggressive than previous trade deals and provides broad new powers for other countries and foreign corporations to challenge U.S. food safety and food labeling measures. Photo credit: Erik S Lesser / U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Image Two: With these four new trump cards on the table, the odds against fast-track get better—and almost certainly the next Presidential election will put the candidates of both parties to the test—a fact which has led Hilary Clinton to distance herself from her husband’s trade legacy, and Mike Huckabee to make opposition to trade deals one of his key planks.