The treasonous Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Treaty was signed by the oil-rich Muslim kingdom of Brunei, then-Socialist Chile, free-trade New Zealand, and rights-deprived Singapore. Negotiations to expand membership and add treaty elements began in 2010; the project name was shortened to Trans-Pacific Partnership Treaty.
Nations that are currently negotiating membership terms include Australia, Brunei, Chile, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam. (South Korea declined an invitation to participate.) Other countries that expressed interest in T.P.P. membership were Colombia, Costa Rica, Indonesia, Laos, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Thailand.
There are two central problems with the existence of the T.P.P. process. One is that details of the treaty’s text and of the negotiations themselves are secret. (Where are whistleblowers Julian Assange and Edward Snowden when you really need them?) The second problem is that a few tiny leaks have revealed plans for the T.P.P. organization to dictate policy to member nations, without any legal recourse except to appeal to the T.P.P. courts, who have a history of rejecting appeals. (See Details Section below.)
What this means for the United States is that an outside agency designed to reduce competition in international trade will have absolute power to cancel any state and federal laws of the U.S.A that they don’t like, such as labor laws, environmental laws, food & drug labeling laws, and motor vehicle standards. The T.P.P. organization will be able to levy fines and order actions that they deem necessary, including trade sanctions.
Is there any part of this that sounds good for America?
ADDED November 2013: Wikileaks has posted what it claims to be the intellectual property rights chapter from an August recap of discussions held during the 19th negotiating round in Brunei; “the document whipped up groups opposed to the pact, saying that it confirmed many of their worst fears”.
ADDED June 2014: As if the Trans-Pacific Partnership Treaty is not enough to worry about, details of the secret Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) Financial Services Annex negotiations were recently revealed on Wikileaks; law professor Jane Kelsey of New Zealand has posted an analysis of the treaty there, and Dave Johnson posted a scary article on Campaign for America’s Future.
ADDED January 2015: The Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and forty more environmental groups sent a letter to Congress opposing both Fast Track and the secret contents of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Treaty.
ADDED March 2015: The New York Times and Wikileaks got their hands on some T.P.P. text, and it is bad. ‘Now We Know Why Huge T.P.P. Trade Deal Is Kept Secret From The Public‘. The New York Times story on the contents of a leaked chapter of the T.P..P showed that it’s as bad as many of us feared: It would let firms ‘sue’ participating governments for loss of ‘expected future profits’. Let that sink in.
ADDED June 2015: The folks at WikiLeaks released seventeen secret documents from the T.I.S.A. negotiations that parallel the T.P.P. agreement. Participants include the United States, the European Union, and 23 other countries whose combined economic activity comprises 53 percent of worldwide G.D.P. This release defines specific plans to deregulate the financial sector and ‘standstill clauses’ that will prevent legislative response to changing environmental conditions. The release also defines previously undisclosed areas such as air traffic, maritime, professional services, e-commerce, delivery services, transparency, and domestic regulation.
- Tasini’s short report at DailyKos on the analysis by Wikileaks. (The DailyKos blog page is followed by lots of inane comments.)
- 5-page analysis by Wikileaks that accompanied its June 3rd document release (.PDF file)
ADDED June 2015: U.S. Senator and independent candidate for President in 2016 Bernie Sanders gave a 4-minute speech on June 3rd outside the House office building in Washington, DC specifying reasons why the Trans-Pacific Partnership Treaty and Fast Track are ‘bad agreements following other bad agreements’ and disastrous for America and for the middle class • Bernie’s speech [4:00] on YouTube
ADDED June 2015: After the U.S. Senate passed a version of Fast Track, the U.S. House of Representatives made changes, withdrew some, added others; Speaker Boehner attempted to force the issue though many members of Congress were not telling the vote counters where they stood. On Friday June 12th, the T.A.A. bill ‘went down in flames’ with 302 against and 126 for the proposal; just a few hours later, the Fast Track bill was passed 219 to 211 – however, without the T.A.A. bill, the Fast Track vote means nothing (standard nonsensical G.O.P. posturing: ‘Yeah, T.P.P. did not happen, but don’t blame me because I voted for Fast Track’).
Actual Horrible Details of the T.P.P. Treaty
- NAFTA and CAFTA have already been watered down in that freight trucks crossing the border to the U.S. are no longer required to carry evidence of insurance, nor are they required to pass any safety inspection tougher than their originating country (if any). Nor are drivers required to obey the longtime F.T.C. rules about the maximum of 12-hours work per day for a driver.
- One of the policies of T.P.P. is that U.S.-produced food cannot be labeled as either ‘contains G.M.O. ingredients’ or ‘contains NO G.M.O. ingredients’. This is considered by T.P.P. to be Restraint of Free Trade, because informing the American food-buyer about G.M.O. (genetically-modified) products would likely cause them not to buy un-labeled foreign products, and how fair would that be?
- The whole business of ‘fair trade’ labeling for coffee, tea, cocoa, sugar, rice, spices and other such food crops will be stopped as well. (See above.)
- All other such labeling for ‘organic‘ or country of origin or animal welfare issues or chemical ingredients (pesticides, hormones, antibiotics) will be eliminated.
- Intellectual property rights restrictions will be tightened, requiring ISPs (internet service providers) to police the content of customer websites and then shut down and-or fine any website found in violation or receiving a complaint about going beyond the ‘fair use’ doctrine. Again, the only appeal is to the T.P.P. court system, which favors members over U.S. law. The danger here is that not only are individual websites at risk of censorship, but that the ISPs will be sanctioned if they do not act as Thought Police.
- Proposed provisions of T.P.P. also restrict access to affordable medicines around the world, in that manufacturers will set the retail price and government programs for indigenous people or for the poor or for the elderly will not be allowed to provide such benefits free or at discount.
- Proposed provisions of T.P.P. also restrict publication or distribution of works such as in Japan’s manga industry, which long ago established the principle of ‘derivative döjinshiv(self-publishing)’.
- The T.P.P. courts system is organized around ‘investor-state arbitration’ that allows a corporation (investor) operating in a member state to sue another country or corporation for violating a T.P.P. provision. The T.P.P. tribunals are answerable to no one and resistance is futile: any sanction levied by a tribunal requires mandatory compliance.
- Many laws protecting workers rights and women’s rights and minority rights would become unenforceable – unfair, you see. Slavery and discrimination against minorities must be protected!
- Another leaked proposed provision of T.P.P. is that it will allow corporations to sue governments for ‘lost profits’ if governments try to enforce environmental, health, labor and other laws. Part of this provision prevents tobacco products from being treated differently than other products: no more ‘tobacco can kill you’ signage on the cigarette pack. (The Philip Morris mega-corporation is currently suing Uruguay, Ireland, and Norway on this exact issue; T.P.P. would ensure that Philip Morris wins without all that pesky court trial foolishness.)
- The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other fascist organizations are pushing for passage of a Fast Track Trade Promotion Authority bill that would require the U.S. Congress to vote for corporate proposals without hearings and with no time to digest the contents. Per this bill, Congress will not be allowed to make changes or add amendments, with passage on a simple plurality.