Friday, January 03, 2014
Disappeared truth about the Trans-Pacific Partnership treaty
We are confident that this [TPP] agreement will be a model for ambition for other free trade agreements in the future, forging close linkages among our economies, enhancing our competitiveness, benefitting our consumers and supporting the creation and retention of jobs, higher living standards, and the reduction of poverty in our countries.—White House statement after conclusion of secretive TPP talks in Honolulu during APEC, 11/12/2011
NAFTA will tear down trade barriers between our three nations. It will create the world’s largest trade zone and create 200,000 jobs in this country by 1995 alone. The environmental and labor side agreements initiated by our administration will make this agreement a force for social progress as well as economic growth.—President Bill Clinton, at signing ceremony for NAFTA, December 1993
Rather than creating the promised 170,000 jobs per year, NAFTA has contributed to an enormous new U.S. trade deficit with Mexico and Canada, which had already equated to an estimated net loss of one million U.S. jobs by 2004…More than 845,000 specific U.S. workers have been certified for Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) as having lost their jobs due to imports from Canada and Mexico or the relocation of factories to those countries….NAFTA has contributed to downward pressure on U.S. wages and growing income inequality. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, two out of every three displaced manufacturing workers who were rehired in 2012 experienced a wage reduction, most of them taking a pay cut of greater than 20 percent…Despite a 188 percent rise in food imports from Canada and Mexico under NAFTA, the average nominal price of food in the United States has jumped 65 percent since the deal went into effect.—Excerpts from the Public Citizen report, NAFTA at 20: One Million U.S. Jobs Lost, Mass Displacement and Instability in Mexico, Record Income Inequality, Scores of Corporate Attacks on Environmental and Health Laws
by Larry Geller
Among the most “disappeared” news of 2013 were details of a major international treaty that promises to negatively impact jobs and consumers in the United States if allowed to move to completion. It should not surprise us that our government is promoting policies that cause significant harm to the American people—but that critical analysis has been “disappeared” from mainstream news coverage as well.
Congress and the American people are being kept in total darkness about the provisions of the proposed international TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership} treaty, parts of which were negotiated during the APEC 2011 conference held here in Honolulu.
The TPP isn’t really about trade (see snip at the bottom of this article). It’s about granting corporations special powers to override national, state and local laws to ensure their continued profit.
President Obama is pushing hard for “fast-track” authority from Congress, which would rob our elected representatives from any action on the treaty except for voting on it in a yes/no vote. Congress is being asked to grant Obama this authority even while they are unable to get hold of a copy of the treat to read first:
Despite the fact that Congress will vote on the deal, [Congressman Peter] DeFazio says the TPP secrecy extends even to Senate and House members. He says in order to view what’s in the TPP document he would have to make a special appointment, with no staff present, not take notes and then not talk about what he saw. He says he did not look at the document and instead has reviewed the leaked portions. According to memos about the TPP leaked in December, the agreement would give new political powers to corporations, increase the cost of prescription medications and restrict bank regulation. It would possibly outlaw his proposed Wall Street transaction tax, DeFazio says.
[Eugene Weekly, Secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership Revealed, 1/2/2014]
Congress's job is to represent the people. And TPP negotiators have already gone to great lengths to limit the general public's knowledge of this far-reaching deal, shutting out labor unions, environmentalists, open internet groups, consumer advocates and many other public interest organizations. Right now, 600 corporate advisors can read and comment on the negotiating texts, while the rest of us can only piece together news from leaked chapters.
What we've discovered is chilling: The TPP would give giant multinational corporations new powers to circumvent important U.S. laws concerning working conditions and workers' rights, the environment, public health and more. It would offshore millions of American jobs and erode wages here at home. It would increase the price of life-saving medicines, make it illegal to unlock your cell phone, roll back Wall Street reforms and expose the U.S. marketplace to unsafe food.
[from the Communication Workers of America website, emphasis added]
The TPP is the largest-ever economic treaty, encompassing nations representing more than 40 per cent of the world’s GDP…. The chapter published by WikiLeaks is perhaps the most controversial chapter of the TPP due to its wide-ranging effects on medicines, publishers, internet services, civil liberties and biological patents.
How will TPP potentially affect each of us as well as citizens of other countries, and who (as if you didn’t know) will benefit? For a clear explanation, this morning’s Democracy Now segment featuring Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch and author of the report mentioned in the pull-quote above, "NAFTA at 20.”
NAFTA, which came into effect 20 years ago January 1, is the clear prototype for the TPP. Its example should warn leaders of other countries to do the right thing and protect their own citizens against the massive damage to their livelihoods that the TPP would cause, but the White House is pushing on. Whose government is this, anyway? Nevermind, you know the answer to that question also.
Here’s the video. If you prefer, a transcript of the program segment can be found on the Democracy Now website, here.
Video included under Democracy Now's Creative Commons license: Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License
Although it is called a “free trade” agreement, the TPP is not mainly about trade. Of TPP’s 29 draft chapters, only five deal with traditional trade issues. One chapter would provide incentives to offshore jobs to low-wage countries. Many would impose limits on government policies that we rely on in our daily lives for safe food, a clean environment, and more. Our domestic federal, state and local policies would be required to comply with TPP rules. The TPP would even elevate individual foreign firms to equal status with sovereign nations, empowering them to privately enforce new rights and privileges, provided by the pact, by dragging governments to foreign tribunals to demand taxpayer compensation over policies that they claim undermine their expected future profits. In one fell swoop, the TPP could offshore millions of U.S. jobs, free Wall Street bankers from oversight, ban Buy American policies needed to create green jobs, decrease access to affordable medicine, flood the United States with unsafe food and products, curtail Internet freedom, and empower corporations to attack our environmental and health safeguards.
[from the Public Citizen website, here]
Every President since Richard Nixon has bought into the corporate driven free trade mantra. Free trade has almost singlehandedly destroyed the American middle class. We need to return to the days of fair trade and put Americans back to work.
Thanks for this, Larry. The story has been pretty much embargoed by the corporate media. Some of us rely upon MSNBC for our news and, as far as I can tell, only Ed Schultz has talked about it there. Both Rachel Madow and even Chris Hayes have largely abided by the Gentleman's Agreement to keep their mouths shut. Much more fun (for Rachel) to publicize the latest outrage from insane Republican hypocrites and fanatics than to expose the corporatist agenda shared by the Obama administration and too many Democrats.