Archive for the ‘TPP’ Category

‘Corporate Colonialism’: Protesters Slam TPP, US Military ‘One-Two Punch’

April 23, 2014

Ahead of Obama visit, Asia-Pacific voices demand ‘U.S. out’

- Sarah Lazare, staff writer

Protest against Malaysia’s participation in Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations in Kuala Lumpur on July 19, 2013. (Photo: EPA/AZHAR RAHIM)As President Barack Obama prepares to embark on his fifth visit to the Asia-Pacific region, grassroots protests against U.S. efforts to ram through the Trans-Pacific trade deal and the U.S. military pivot to Asia are mounting on both sides of the Pacific.

“People are saying we don’t want more U.S. militarization in our countries,” said Rhonda Ramiro, Vice Chair of BAYAN-USA—an alliance of Filipino organizations in the U.S.—in an interview with Common Dreams. “This is about U.S. military power and economic domination.”

In the coming days, protests against the TPP and U.S. military pivot will sweep U.S. embassies in Japan, South Korea, and the Philippines, with more actions slated for the “weeks and months to come,” said Ramiro.Channel News Asia reports that in Tokyo, where Obama will land Wednesday, protests against the TPP by workers, farmers, and community groups are already heating up.

Meanwhile, BAYAN-USA is organizing a day of action on Friday in major cities across the U.S. to oppose military buildup throughout the Philippines and the Asia-Pacific region. And Monday marked the beginning of a U.S. week of action against the TPP backed by a coalition of environmental, labor, internet freedom, and numerous other organizations.

Obama is widely expected to use his upcoming trip to Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, and the Philippines to push for the TPP and secure a U.S. military buildup in the region.

Critics charge that this economic and military agenda is part of a broader strategic plan to bolster U.S. geopolitical control of the region and hedge against China.

People in Seattle, Washington participate in the North American Day of Action on Jan. 31st, marking the 20-year anniversary of NAFTA with protest sof ongoing and future free trade agreements, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership (Photo Alex Garland)

The TPP, which has been referred to as NAFTA on steroids, is a so-called “free trade agreement” currently under negotiation between 12 countries — the United States, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam — together comprising 40 percent of the world’s GDP. Despite the breadth of this potential agreement, the TPP negotiations have been highly secretive, with the bulk of publicly available information exposed by WikiLeaks.

Documents show that negotiators are pushing for inclusion of NAFTA’s infamous corporate tribunals, in which corporations “settle disputes” with governments in secrecy and trample domestic protections from public health to environmental regulations, completely circumventing their own national legal systems.

Cassidy Regan of Flush the TPP told Common Dreams that the TPP is “nothing but corporate colonialism.” She added, “The supposed environmental protections chapter includes nothing substantive. The intellectual property chapter raised major concerns among internet freedom activists, as well as public health workers who know the expansion of monopoly drug patents for major pharmaceutical companies will only further raise the price of and threaten access to life-saving medicines worldwide.”

Christine Ahn writes for Foreign Policy in Focus that the U.S. push for the TPP is part of a “one-two punch,” with the second blow dealt by the so-called U.S. military pivot to the Asia-Pacific.

The renewed U.S. military interest in the Asia-Pacific region, pushed in 2011 by Hillary Clinton, aims to deploy 60 percent of the U.S. Navy fleet to the Asia Pacific region by 2020. This effort includes: the re-building and occupation of U.S. military installations in the Philippines; the deployment of thousands of troops; the building of new military bases across the region; expansion of military exercises; shifting of weapons—including long-range bombers and drones—to the Pacific; and increased military alliances.

This is in a region where there are already approximately 320,000 U.S. troops.

“The U.S. is trying to establish neoliberal policies,” said Ramiro. “If anyone is opposed, the military will be there to back up economic plans. The militarization is also a way for the U.S. to flex its muscles around China.”

According to Ramiro, the U.S. military presence has brought environmental destruction and an epidemic of violence and sexual assaults against women. Furthermore, bolstered U.S. military alliances are further strengthening repressive governments.

“We have a Philippine military has been implicated in major human rights abuses against peace, labor, and environmental activists and journalists,” said Ramiro. “The military has silenced dissent and engaged in outright killings torture. This is the Philippine military that trained with U.S. military.”

Yet Bernadette Ellorin, Chairperson of BAYAN-USA, told Common Dreams that the legacies of resistance throughout the region are cause for hope.

“People in the Asia-Pacific have been struggling for decades against U.S. intervention. This is nothing new to people in the region,” said Ellorin. “In the Philippines we have been fighting us presence for 114 years. Other countries have been fighting for decades. Those struggles and movements still exist, and they are intensifying now.”

She added, “These movements in the region continue to frustrate the U.S. geopolitical agenda in the region and have endured countless U.S. counter-insurgency campaigns. The U.S. Pacific Command is the largest and oldest of the U.S. global commands. As long as U.S. intervention is present, people’s resistance will not only persist, but grow.”

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March 26, 2014
Exclusive to OpEdNews:
General News 3/25/2014 at 07:39:42

Exclusive to Opednews: Alan Grayson

Talks About TPP, GLobalization, NAFTA

and Obama

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I interviewed Alan Grayson on my radio show on March 18th. The link to the podcast is here.

This segment of the transcript of the interview covers our discussion of TPP and globalization trade deals. It’s not pretty.

 

From http://www.opednews.com/populum/uploadphotos/s_300_upload_wikimedia_org_46441_800px-Alan_Grayson_Updated_Headshot_167.gif: Alan Grayson
Alan Grayson
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R.K.: And welcome to the Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio Show WNJC 1360 AM out of Washington Township reaching Metro Philly and South Jersey.  Also available on iTunes under my name, Rob Kall, K-A-L-L and at opednews.com/podcasts.

My guest tonight is Congressman Alan Grayson.  He represents Florida’s Ninth District.  He has been singled out as an enemy by Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, and George Will, something I am sure he’s proud of and he’s received more votes for Progressive Hero from Democracy for America than any other candidate in the country.  Welcome to the show, it’s good to have you back.

A.G.: Thank you very much, good to be back.

 

R.K.: So I’ve got a lot of questions and things I want to talk about, we’ve got a limited time.  I’m going to throw a couple things at you, you kind of pick what we get in to.  One, the Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Deal, TPP, what’s your take on it and the Atlantic counterpart and not just on fast tracking but the deals themselves.

A.G.: Well they take a bad situation and make it far worse.  These are deals that would extend free trade status which we now have with Mexico and Canada to roughly fifty other countries and what we’ve seen over and over again with these deals is that they weaken our economy and gut the middle class.  Let’s take NAFTA for instance.  Before NAFTA went in to effect, the United States never had a trade deficit of a hundred and thirty five billion dollars in any time in its history.

Every single year since NAFTA went in to effect we’ve had a trade deficit of a hundred and thirty five billions dollars or more.  In the last thirteen years we’ve won thirteen state trade deficits that are higher than any country that’s ever run in the history of the entire world.  There’s no country that’s ever had a two hundred billion dollar trade deficit other than the United States.

We have thirteen in a row that are three hundred and fifty billion dollars or more. We’ve lost five million manufacturing jobs and roughly ten million other jobs and the middle class is being destroyed.

R.K.: Who benefits from these then?  Why are they done?

A.G.: They’re done because foreigners benefit from them and multi-national corporations benefit from them.  It used to be that you’d find organizations lining up against trade bills organizations like the National Association of Manufacturers which represented companies that made manufacture in the United States.

Now the National Association of Manufacturers consists largely of companies that manufacture abroad and sell in the United States.  It’s sort of become the International Association of Manufacturers, if you will, and so the result of this that there’s now a very large and very powerful lobby in favor of importing rather than in favor of manufacturing.  This is something that is represented in dealings with Congress quite clearly.  So what’s actually happening can’t even be called free trade anymore.  What’s actually happening is better described as buying and borrowing.  That’s what we’ve been doing.  We’re buying and borrowing.  We are using our money to put foreigner, millions upon millions of foreigners, especially in China to work and they are turning around and rather than buying our goods and services, instead what they’re doing is they’re buying our assets and driving us deeper and deeper in to debt.  Right now foreigners own ten trillion dollars of our assets, that’s roughly one-sixth of our national net worth.  And they own seven trillion dollars of treasury bills and treasury bonds alone.

So they’re holding the whip hand because they’re buying virtually every asset in this country that’s worth buying.  We lose twice.  We lose because we lose the jobs and because we lose our wealth as well and fall deeper and deeper in to debt.

R.K.: Now Obama is really pushing for this and refuses to tell Congress or even what’s in the TPP.  What are your thoughts on Obama’s advocacy for this.  Why, what is he doing?

A.G.: Well President Obama is unusually close with the corporate titans when it comes to economic issues.  I think this is true whether you’re talking about banks, whether you’re talking about computers and the internet, or for that matter whether you’re talking about trade.  President Obama has rarely, if ever been an economic populist.  The result of that is he has allowed to engines of sovereign give away to continue to operate and come up with new and better ways to turn our sovereignty over to multi-national corporations and I don’t think he gets any independent advice about this at all.

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Rob Kall is executive editor, publisher and website architect ofOpEdNews.com, Host of the Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio Show (WNJC 1360 AM), and publisher of Storycon.org, President of Futurehealth, Inc, and an inventor . He is also published regularly on the Huffingtonpost.com

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I Talk With Alan Grayson On TPP, Psychopathic Corporations, corpomemes, Whistleblowers, NSA

March 21, 2014
Broadcast March 20, 2014The Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio Show Podcast

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From http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Alan_Grayson_113th_Congress.jpg: Alan Grayson

Check Friday for the full transcript.

Congressman Alan Grayson represents Florida’s 9th district.  He’s been singled as an enemy by Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin and George Will– something I’m sure he’s proud of. He received more votes for “progressive hero” from Democracy for America than any other candidate in the country.

Can you talk about your position on TPP the Transpacific Partnership trade deal and its Atlantic counterpart– not just about fast-tracking but the deals themselves?

Who benefits from these. Why are they done?

What are your thoughts about OBama advocating so strongly for this?

What did you see when you got your look (at the TPP?)

How can any member of congress allow fast tracking let alone vote for it?

Have you seen the book or movie, THE CORPORATION, created by Joel Bakan? It describes how corporations are set up to operate in a psychopathic way.

As one of the few members of congress who actually made a living as an economist, how do you feel about the current state of capitalism. Is it possible for corporations to exist without being psychopathic.

The memes that corporations have implanted in peoples minds are very powerful, mostly through right wing radio.

Koch brothers as the tip of the billionaire iceberg.

Have you seen House of Cards? Is it something members of congress are watching?

There’s a story strand that plausibly shows China playing a role, coordinated with a billionaire, in influencing numerous US election campaigns and media attack ads. Isn’t foreign interference in US politics unconstitutional? It seems to me that something like the scenario portrayed in House of Cards is one that could have easily played out since Citizens United. Is anyone looking into these possibilities?  Are you concerned that foreign money is being used to influence US politics since CItizens United.

You’ve worked, as an attorney, with whistleblowers. What’s your take on the NSA revelations of Ed Snowden and reporters Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras?

He (Justin Amash) introduced a bill dealing with NSA– it almost passed– any chance that something

Your opponent in this year’s election says he’s looking forward to debating you on obamacare. How do you measure how your constitutents have responded? Have they signed up? Are stats available by district? How many people or what percentage of people in your district would you expect could benefit from Obamacare?

My district is 40% latino and latinos in Fl have 40% no health coverage.

percentage of uninsured in US has dropped from 18% to 15% in last year.

Adolph reed march. Harpers, Nothing Left– The long, slow surrender of American liberals

How do we get more people elected to congress who are as progressive as you are, or how can we push already elected representatives to the left?

Luis gutierez

congresssmenwithguts.com

 

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The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.

On the Wrong Side of Globalization

March 20, 2014

Economist Joseph Stiglitz. (photo: Roosevelt Institute)
Economist Joseph Stiglitz. (photo: Roosevelt Institute)

go to original article

By Joseph Stiglitz, The New York Times

19 March 14

rade agreements are a subject that can cause the eyes to glaze over, but we should all be paying attention. Right now, there are trade proposals in the works that threaten to put most Americans on the wrong side of globalization.

The conflicting views about the agreements are actually tearing at the fabric of the Democratic Party, though you wouldn’t know it from President Obama’s rhetoric. In his State of the Union address, for example, he blandly referred to “new trade partnerships” that would “create more jobs.” Most immediately at issue is the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, which would bring together 12 countries along the Pacific Rim in what would be the largest free trade area in the world.

Negotiations for the TPP began in 2010, for the purpose, according to the United States Trade Representative, of increasing trade and investment, through lowering tariffs and other trade barriers among participating countries. But the TPP negotiations have been taking place in secret, forcing us to rely on leaked drafts to guess at the proposed provisions. At the same time, Congress introduced a bill this year that would grant the White House filibuster-proof fast-track authority, under which Congress simply approves or rejects whatever trade agreement is put before it, without revisions or amendments.

go to original article

________________________

Comment: TPP = Tyranny of Pyramidal Power (Pyramid in Sino-Japanese represent Money: 金: Money Monopoly)

Obama Nominates SOPA Lobbyist for TPP Trade Post

March 1, 2014

Lee Fang
Republic Report/News Report
Published: Saturday 1 March 2014
Notably, nominee Robert Holleyman is a former lobbyist who led efforts to pass the Stop Online Piracy Act legislation, better known as SOPA, when he was leader of the Business Software Alliance.
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This morning, President Obama nominated Robert Holleyman as deputy U.S. trade representative. If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Holleyman will help lead the effort to pass the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.

Notably, Holleyman is a former lobbyist who led efforts to pass the Stop Online Piracy Act legislation, better known as SOPA, when he was leader of the Business Software Alliance. The SOPA debate (along with its sister legislation, PROTECT-IP, in the Senate) brought a spotlight on industry efforts to undermine Internet freedom through what many considered to be draconian intellectual property policy.

Critics have pointed out, the leaked TPP documents relating to TPP negotiations reveal that the U.S. is seeking to resurrect portions of the SOPA bill through the TPP, namely, holding Internet Service Providers liable for hosting copyright infringement and extending the copyright life of certain corporate-owned copyrights. As Washington Post blogger Henry Farrell noted, the proposed TPP provisions suggest the deal will advance intellectual property rules that “could not [be] achieved through an open democratic process.”

 

During the SOPA debate, Holleyman was chief executive of the Business Software Alliance, a trade group for software companies including IBM. Holleyman commended then-Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith for his work in sponsoring SOPA and for pushing for its passage. In 2012, as the bill worked its way through Congress, the BSA spent over $1.6 million on lobbying. After widespread outrage against the bill, which eventually failed, BSA withdrew official support and sought similar policy changes through other legislation. 

If the Senate approves Holleyman as the next deputy trade representative, he will have another opportunity to advance SOPA-style policy.

Last week, Republic Report broke several stories regarding the TPP, including bonuses paid by CitiGroup and Bank of America to officials also tapped by the administration to lead the TPP deal. We also reported on media companies and their lobbying efforts on the bill — which have been extensive, despite the lack of coverage media outlets are devoting to the issue.

This article originally appeared on Republic Report.

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ABOUT LEE FANG

Lee Fang is an investigative researcher and contributing author for NationofChange. A resident of Sacramento, CA, Lee has written for the Boston Globe, The Nation, and ThinkProgress.org.

How TPP Would Harm You in the Drugstore

February 27, 2014
Dave Johnson
Campaign for America’s Democracy/Op-ed
Published: Wednesday 26 February 2014
Because of these leaks we know that the TPP has an intellectual property section that will override government rules that limit the power giant corporations can wield against smaller competitors and the general public.

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A law affecting content on the Internet that was rejected by Congress shows up in a trade agreement designed to bypass and override Congress. Small, innovative companies that manufacture low-cost, generic drugs find their products blocked.

Those are examples of what is in store based on provisions in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which is now being negotiated by the United States and 11 other nations, that have been leaked o the public. The leaks appear to show that provision after leaked provision will take power away from democracy and countries and hand it to the biggest corporations. No wonder these giant, monopolistic corporations want Congress to approve Fast Track before they – and We the People – get a chance to read the agreement.

Because of these leaks we know that the TPP has an intellectual property section that will override government rules that limit the power giant corporations can wield against smaller competitors and the general public. Intellectual property (IP) is a term that covers patents, copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets, industrial designs and similar ‘intangible assets.” (Click here for the IP chapter that was leaked to Wikileaks.)

The rigged process in which only giant corporate interests are represented at the talks of course produces results that are more favorable to those giant corporations than to their smaller, innovative competitors and regular people around the world. The rigged “fast track” process enables these interests to push the agreement through Congress before there is time to organize a public reaction.

TPP And Fast Track

TPP is a “trade” agreement that has little to do with trade and everything to do with giving the giant corporations the power to override what governments and their people want. The agreement follows the pattern of the trade agreements that have forced millions of jobs and tens of thousands of factories out of the United States, placed giant corporations in a dominant-power position that is threatening our democracy and sovereignty, and have dramatically accelerated the transfer of wealth from regular people to a few billionaires worldwide.

TPP is being negotiated in secret with consumer, environmental, labor, health, human rights and other “stakeholder’ groups excluded from the table. But the interests of the giant corporations are at the table, with the negotiators either already well-compensated by the corporate interests or in a position to be well-compensated later after leaving government (which many of them tend to do immediately after ending their role in trade negotiations).

To help push TPP through, the giant corporations are trying to get Congress to give up its constitutional responsibility to initiate and carefully consider the terms of trade agreements. The corporations are pushing for Congress to pass “fast track” trade promotion authority, which brings in a process where Congress gets a very limited amount of time after first seeing the agreement to evaluate it and then vote, limits how much they can debate it and prohibits them from amending it in any way. This gives the corporations the opportunity to set up a huge PR campaign to pressure Congress to pass it, before the public has time to organize a response – never mind even read the agreement.

Intellectual Property and Drug Prices

One example of the way the intellectual property provisions favor giant, multinational corporations over smaller, innovative corporations and regular people around the world is in pharmaceutical prices.

A company with a drug patent is granted a monopoly to sell the drug at any price they choose with no competition. Currently a drug might be patented for a limited number of years in different countries. When the patent runs out other companies are able to manufacture the drug and the competition means the drug will sell at a lower cost.

Leaked documents appear to show that TPP will extend patent terms for drugs. Countries signing the agreement will scrap their own IP rules and instead follow those in TPP. So giant drug companies will have the same patent in all countries, for a longer period, and the patent will prevent competition that lowers drug prices.

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Currently smaller, innovative companies can produce “generic” drugs after patents run out. Because of competition these drugs can be very inexpensive. Walmart, for example, sells a month’s supply of many generic drugs for $4, while drugs still under patent protection can cost hundreds or even thousands. This is of particular concern to poor countries that will be under TPP rules.

Please read Expose The TPP’s section The Trans-Pacific Partnership and Public Health, which begins:

The TPP would provide large pharmaceutical firms with new rights and powers to increase medicine prices and limit consumers’ access to cheaper generic drugs. This would include extensions of monopoly drug patents that would allow drug companies to raise prices for more medicines and even allow monopoly rights over surgical procedures. For people in the developing countries involved in TPP, these rules could be deadly – denying consumers access to HIV-AIDS, tuberculosis and cancer drugs.

What You Can See, Do And Say On The Internet

Another area where the IP section of TPP could give corporations tremendous power is in deciding what regular people can see, do or say on the Internet. TPP will override our own rules, even imposing laws like the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA) that Congress have specifically rejected.

You might remember when many websites on the Internet “went dark” for 24 hours to protest the proposed SOPA and PIPA laws. According to the Electronic Freedom Foundation’s (EFF) SOPA/PIPA: Internet Blacklist Legislation,

The “Stop Online Piracy Act”/”E-PARASITE Act” (SOPA) and “The PROTECT IP Act” (PIPA) are the latest in a series of bills which would create a procedure for creating (and censoring) a blacklist of websites. These bills are updated versions of the “Combating Online Infringements and Counterfeits Act” (COICA), which was previously blocked in the Senate. Although the bills are ostensibly aimed at reaching foreign websites dedicated to providing illegal content, their provisions would allow for removal of enormous amounts of non-infringing content including political and other speech from the Web.

… Had these bills been passed five or ten years ago, even YouTube might not exist today — in other words, the collateral damage from this legislation would be enormous.

Larry Magid explained at the time, in What Are SOPA and PIPA And Why All The Fuss?

The bill would require sites to refrain from linking to any sites “dedicated to the theft of U.S. property.” It would also prevent companies from placing on the sites and block payment companies like Visa, Mastercard and Paypal from transmitting funds to the site. For more, see this blog post on Reddit.

The problem with this is that the entire site would be affected, not just that portion that is promoting the distribution of illegal material. It would be a bit like requiring the manager of a flea market to shut down the entire market because some of the merchants were selling counterfeit goods.

… Opponents say it would create an “internet blacklist.”

… There is also worry that SOPA and PIPA could be abused and lead to censorship for purposes other than intellectual property protection.

Congress decided to reject SOPA and PIPA. But the provisions of SOPA and PIPA are back, this time in the TPP, which would override what Congress wants.

Please read the EFF’s Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement page.

We’ve seen how this works too many times. The giant corporations promise jobs and prosperity to get their way, but then We the People end up with fewer jobs and a falling standard of living while a few billionaires and executives pocket the difference. Instead of letting the giant corporations push through yet another job-killing agreement that gives them even more wealth and power let’s take control of things and fix the agreements that have hurt us, our economy and our democracy. Fix NAFTA First!

Obama’s ambitious trade agenda hits Asian resistance

February 22, 2014

By Linda Sieg and Rachel Armstrong

POLITICS FEB. 22, 2014 – 06:45AM JST ( 3 )

TOKYO/SINGAPORE —

America’s ambitious trade agenda is running into fierce resistance in Asia, but negotiators say a draft Pacific free-trade deal that papers over some differences may be ready by the time U.S. President Barack Obama visits the region in April.

A central element of Obama’s strategic shift toward Asia, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) could accelerate global economic growth, boost U.S. exports and level the playing field between emerging and rich nations in one of the world’s biggest trade pacts, covering about one-third of global trade.

The White House had hoped to complete the deal, which aims to cut tariffs and set common standards on other issues, last year. But that didn’t happen and negotiators fly into Singapore on Saturday for three days of talks on the 12-country pact.

Significant challenges remain, including U.S. frustrations over Japanese protection of sensitive agricultural products, such as rice, and U.S. automakers’ fears of increased competition from Japan.

At the start of U.S.-Japan working-level talks this week, a Japanese cabinet minister said Tokyo could make concessions on tariffs on some sensitive farm products, but negotiators said big gaps remained between the two sides.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who took office 14 months ago pledging to revive the world’s third-largest economy, has made the trade pact a key part of a growth strategy known as the “Third Arrow” of his “Abenomics” recipe. The other two “Arrows” are hyper-easy monetary policy and fiscal spending.

“Abe has told international society he would go ahead with TPP so he has to make progress,” said a Japanese official familiar with the matter. “It is not so easy to accept failure.”

While the United States and Japan agree on many issues, they remain at odds over politically sensitive sectors for both countries. Washington has been pressing Tokyo to scrap all tariffs in the five categories of rice, beef and pork, dairy products, wheat and sugar. These include 586 product lines.

Japan wants the United States to set a timeline for scrapping tariffs of 2.5% on imports of passenger cars and 25% on light trucks.

“The negotiations present extremely high hurdles for Japan, and considerable gaps remain between Japan and the U.S,” Economy minister Akira Amari, in charge of Japan’s delegation, told reporters on Friday before flying to Singapore. But he said Abe had told him to do his best to reach a deal.

An agreement between the United States and Japan would set the tone for the other countries engaged in the TPP: Australia, Brunei, Chile, Canada, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

The stakes are high for Obama as well. Internationally, he needs to make good on TPP as a key element of his promised “rebalance” of economic and security policy to Asia at a time when many in the region question his commitment to the region.

His planned visit to Asia in April is seen by some experts and negotiators as a target for a preliminary draft deal for TPP that would send a signal Washington wants to add economic substance to a pivot strategy otherwise largely about shifting some military forces to Asia to counter a rising China.

“If the TPP is not realised, it will deal a major blow to the U.S. rebalancing strategy,” said Bonnie Glaser, senior associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and a consultant for the U.S. government on East Asia.

“A lot of countries are seeing this as a litmus test.”

Two New Zealand officials with knowledge of negotiations say an in-principle deal might be unveiled during Obama’s April visit but that it would paper over significant differences, leaving those to later.

New Zealand’s negotiators, one official said, are adopting a “more realistic” view of the TPP process after Obama faced resistance within his Democratic Party on a proposal to give the White House power to fast-track trade deals – so-called Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) – which would deny U.S. lawmakers the opportunity to amend the pact.

“The worry among the other countries is: ‘What if everything we’ve negotiated on is pointless and we have to re-negotiate it to get it past Congress’?” said Deborah Elms, who has regular talks with TPP negotiators as head of the Temasek Foundation Centre for Trade and Negotiations, a Singapore think tank.

Others said such concerns were overdone. Former White House international economic adviser Matthew Goodman said talk of countries unwilling to seal a deal because Obama lacks fast-track approval was “more of a negotiating tactic” and once a pact was agreed, getting it through Congress would get easier.

Illustrating the challenges, some countries such as Malaysia have little chance of securing a deal due to intense domestic opposition and could ultimately drop out of the pact.

Malaysia’s government has faced a debilitating backlash over the TPP both from the political opposition and from powerful traditionalists within the ruling party.

Malaysian Trade Minister Mustapa Mohamed listed at least seven areas where negotiators still have significant concerns,  including intellectual property, state-owned enterprises, labor union rights and the environment.

“It’s just a matter of time that these issues will have to be dealt with. The issue is when,” he said on Thursday. “In a way if you are not part of this, we may miss the boat.”

Even if negotiators reach a draft agreement, passage of TPP for many countries could drag on for more than a year. But the pact is at a pivotal juncture.

“I don’t know if we are ever going to do this deal or not and if we are going to do it, whether the essential political bits will come together in the next few days, but it has the smell of reaching a moment of truth,” said New Zealand Trade Minister Tim Groser.

Some experts worry that a lack of U.S. will to clinch the deal would give China – which is not part of the TPP talks – a chance to fill the vacuum. “The U.S., in particular, we don’t think has been as engaged as it might have been,” said Bryan Clark, director of trade and international affairs at the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

China is consolidating its position as the largest trade partner with most Asian countries and its direct investments in the region are surging, albeit from a lower base than Europe, Japan and the United States.

(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2014.

The Transpacific Partnership and “Free Trade” – a Comic version

February 21, 2014

February 20, 2014

 

By Scott Baker

http://economixcomix.com/home/tpp/

Economix creator Mike Goodwin is back with a special comic just on Free Trade and the TPP. A painless illustration for a very painful agreement, with links to other comics and the original book. If you thought NAFTA was bad, wait till you see TPP…

Submitters Bio:

Scott Baker is a Senior Editor and Writer at Opednews, and a blogger for Huffington Post.
Scott Baker is President of Common Ground-NYC (http://commongroundnyc.org/), a Geoist/Georgist group. He has written dozens of articles for Common Ground’s national publication, GroundSwell, and has promoted the Georgist Single Tax to public officials – a tax which would dramatically reduce use of finite resources, which, rightfully, belong to all of us as part of the Commons. A Georgist Single Tax would increase productivity in Earth-saving ways, while virtually eliminating unproductive speculation (by taxing away the fuel for it), decrease poverty, and promote Social justice. It would also promote economic growth by untaxing production and taxing the abuse (pollution) and use of the natural resources of the commons, especially including collecting the economic rent created by demand from the community, not from actions of the Land or resource owner.
He is also NY State Coordinator for the Public Banking Institute (http://publicbankinginstitute.org/home.htm), which seeks to promote Public Banking, along the lines of the best-known American example, the Bank of North Dakota. The PBI is chaired by another OEN blogger, Ellen Brown.
Several TV and radio interviews have allowed Scott to explain the principles of Geoism, Greenbacking, and State Banking:

http://www.opednews.com/articles/Geoism-explained-on-Public-by-Scott-Baker-120613-256.html

http://www.wgdr.org/cgi-bin/archive.pl

Scott also has a blog: http://newthinking.blogspot.com/

Scott has several progressive petitions on Change.org:
A new form of capitalism: Geonomics

http://www.change.org/actions/view/a_new_form_of_capitalism_geonomics

and
Let NY fund its budget gap with a State Bank – change.org/actions/view/close_the_gap_2
http://www.change.org/petitions/view/let_the_empire_state_finance_its_own_budget_gap

Scott was an I.T. Manager for a major New York university for over two decades, where he initiated computing, developed databases, established networks for two divisions and earned a Certificate for Frontline Leadership. He had a video game published in Compute! Magazine (summarized here: http://www.atarimagazines.com/compute/issue55/dark.php).

Scott now chooses to use his computer for the greater good.
He is a graduate of the Henry George School of Social Science in New York City and has published over a dozen articles in the Georgist newsletter – Groundswell – put out by Common Ground.

Scott is a modern-day Renaissance Man with interests in economics, astronomy, history, natural sciences, psychology, philosophy, Native American culture, and all future-forward topics; he has been called an adept syncretist by Kirkus Discoveries for his novel, NeitherWorld – a two-volume opus blending Native American myth, archaeological detail, government conspiracy, with a sci-fi flair (http://www.amazon.com/Neitherworld-Book-Akiiwan-CreateSpace-Version/dp/1434813290/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1341306969&sr=8-1&keywords=neitherworld).

Scott grew up in New York City and Pennsylvania. He graduated with honors and a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Pennsylvania State University and was a member of the Psychology honor society PSI CHI.

Today he is an avid bicyclist and is active in several Green and Progressive organizations.
Technorati code: a72h4zxgud

Are Votes for Fast Track, (TPP) and (TAFTA) Votes for Crony Capitalism?

February 21, 2014

February 20, 2014

 

By Hugh Campbell

Crony capitalism appears to be a Global epidemic, ultimately resulting in the privatization of gains and the socialization of losses. In his bestseller, The Great Deformation: The Corruption of Capitalism in America, David Stockman makes the case that crony capitalism has been eight decades in making in America, while according to Rep. Paul Ryan “We’re starting to see some crony capitalism here in America”

::::::::

March 2013 was a pivotal month for the debate over Crony Capitalism in America. On March 13, 2013, Argentina’s Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina was elected Pope Francis and on March 27th David Stockman, launched his book tour for his New York Times bestseller The Great Deformation: The Corruption of Capitalism in America.

David Stockman writes in his introduction to The Great Deformation: “Fiscal cliffs as far as the eye can see are the deeply troubling outcome of the Great Deformation. They are the result of capture of the state, especially the central bank, the Federal Reserve, by crony capitalist forces deeply inimical to free markets and democracy. Why we are mired in this virtually unsolvable problem is the reason I wrote this book. ” In the book Stockman makes the case that these deeply troubling outcomes didn’t occur overnight, but were eight decades in making by the crony capitalist forces.

Pope Francis’ outspokenness regarding Capitalism was met with the following response, from Rep. Paul Ryan:

Late last year, Ryan, who is Catholic, was asked how the pope’s criticism of capitalism squared with the Republican Party’s message. Paul had argued that the pope didn’t really understand the U.S. economy because the “guy is from Argentina; they haven’t had real capitalism in Argentina.”

During a Sunday interview a few weeks ago, ABC host George Stephanopoulos asked the Wisconsin Republican if he had been “a little too flip” in criticizing the pope.

“No, not at all,” Ryan insisted. “They have crony capitalism in Argentina, where you have exploitation. That is not the free market, that’s crony capitalism. We’re starting to see some crony capitalism here in America.”

From http://www.flickr.com/photos/7521779@N05/11574412935/: Pope Francis Facepalms Paul Ryan

We see a stark contrast regarding crony capitalism in America, with David Stockman’s eight decades in making position and Rep. Paul Ryan’s ” We’re starting to see some crony capitalism here in America” contention. Like most controversies the truth, in all likelihood, can be found somewhere between these extremes.

According to Wikipedia:

” The fast track negotiating authority (also called trade promotion authority or TPA, since 2002) for trade agreements is the authority of the President of the United States to negotiate international agreements that the Congress can approve or disapprove but cannot amend or filibuster. Fast-track negotiating authority is granted to the President by Congress.”

“Presidential candidate George W. Bush made fast track part of his campaign platform in 2000. In May 2001, as president he made a speech about the importance of free trade at the annual Council of the Americas in New York, founded by David Rockefeller and other senior U.S. businessmen in 1965. Subsequently, the Council played a role in the implementation and securing of TPA through Congress.”

“At 3:30 a.m. on July 27, 2002, the House passed the Trade Act of 2002 narrowly by a 215 to 212 vote with 190 Republicans and 27 Democrats making up the majority. The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 64 to 34 on August 1, 2002. The Trade Act of 2002, 2103-2105 (19 U.S.C. 3803-3805), extended and conditioned the application of the original procedures.”

“The authority expired on July 1, 2007, without being renewed by Congress.”

“In October 2011, Congress and the President Obama enacted into law the Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement, the South Korea — United States Free Trade Agreement, and the Panama — United States Trade Promotion Agreement using fast track rules, all of which the George W. Bush administration signed before the deadline.”

“In early 2012, the Obama administration indicated that renewal of the authority is a requirement for the conclusion of Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership (TPP) negotiations, which have been undertaken as if the authority were still in effect. In July 2013, Michael Froman, the newly confirmed U.S. Trade Representative, renewed efforts to obtain Congressional reinstatement of “fast track” authority. At nearly the same time, Senator Elizabeth Warren questioned Froman about the prospect of a secretly-negotiated, binding international agreement such as TPP that might turn out to supersede U.S. wage, safety, and environmental laws. Other legislators expressed concerns about foreign currency manipulation, food safety laws, state-owned businesses, market access for small businesses, access to pharmaceutical products, and online commerce.”

Sponsors of the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities Act of 2014, introduced early 2014 by Senator Max Baucus and Congressman Dave Camp, called it a “vital tool” in connection with negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Free Trade Area (TAFTA). Critics said the bill could detract from “transparency and accountability”.

On the subject of Crony capitalism, Wikipedia highlights IMF officials Michel Camdessus and Stanley Fischer as being quick to explain that the afflicted economies had only themselves to blame. Crony capitalism, lack of transparency, accounting procedures not up to international standards and weak-kneed politicians too quick to spend and too afraid to tax were the problems according to IMF and US Treasury Department officials.

Crony capitalism appears to be a Global epidemic, ultimately resulting in the privatization of gains and the socialization of losses.

Submitters Bio:

A son of a Philadelphia, Pa. Steelworker and very concerned citizen with regards to the fate of our Republic.

_________________________________

Comment: Money or Life? Paradigm shift from Power Pyramid to Life Link!

The Trans-Pacific Partnership: Who wins, who loses, why it matters

February 21, 2014

tpp, trade,Activists demonstrate against the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles. (Liz O. Baylen / Los Angeles Times / January 29, 2014)
By Don Lee1:57 p.m. EST, February 19, 2014

As President Obama travels to Mexico on Wednesday to meet with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the one-day summit is expected to focus partly on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an ambitious 12-nation trade pact being negotiated between North American and Asian countries. Here is a primer on the talks:

Q: What is the Trans-Pacific Partnership?

A: The Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, is a free-trade pact being negotiated among 12 Pacific Rim countries. The TPP is an ambitious effort to shape a comprehensive agreement that would not only reduce tariffs and other barriers to open markets, but establish standards on a range of issues affecting trade and international competition. For instance, negotiators are working to set up rules on intellectual property rights, government procurement and the role of the state in private enterprise.

Q: Who is in the TPP, and who isn’t?

A: There are currently a dozen countries that in total account for almost 40% of the global economy. As the largest economy, the U.S. is seen as the leader of the negotiations. The other nations, in order of economic size, are Japan, Canada, Australia, Mexico, Malaysia, Singapore, Chile, Peru, New Zealand, Vietnam and Brunei. South Korea has expressed interest in joining.

Conspicuously absent from the talks is China, the world’s second-biggest economy.

Q: How did the TPP get started?

A: The negotiations began in talks more than a decade ago among Singapore, Chile and New Zealand. An original agreement was reached by those three countries, plus Brunei, in 2005, and it became the model for the TPP and was extended to other nations. The U.S. announced that it would join the discussions in 2008.

Q: What’s in it for the U.S.?

A: Many analysts generally see liberalizing trade as a benefit to the economy. The TPP has the potential to boost U.S. exports and investments by lowering tariffs and leveling the playing field in some large or rapidly growing markets. The White House has said the TPP could create more U.S. jobs and generate an additional $123.5 billion a year in U.S. exports by 2025.

Beyond the commercial implications, many experts regard the TPP as a key part of American foreign policy. Amid the rise of China and its increasing exercise of political and military power in East Asia, the Obama administration has said it would turn its attention more to the East, the so-called pivot to Asia, in an effort to strengthen U.S influence in that region.

Q: Why is the TPP controversial?

A: The TPP is a major multilateral trade undertaking, the most significant for the U.S. since the North American Free Trade Agreement, which took effect 20 years ago. Labor unions and other critics of NAFTA say that the deal pushed American manufacturing operations overseas and has cost hundreds of thousands of jobs. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business interests say the pact led to booming trade and commercial activity in North America.

Beyond the general dispute over free-trade agreements, the TPP negotiations have been criticized by a number of organizations and lawmakers for not being transparent enough. Some groups are worried that the TPP will establish intellectual-property rules that could lead to restrictions on affordable generic medicines in developing countries. Others are concerned that the TPP won’t set very high standards — or the enforcement mechanisms needed — to protect the environment and labor rights.

Q: What are the major sticking points?

A: Every country has some products that it is particularly sensitive about and wants to protect. The U.S. wants access to Japan’s politically powerful farm sector, including rice. Japan and the U.S. also remain at odds over what both sides see as barriers to each other’s car market. Australia and New Zealand, meanwhile, are seeking greater openings for their dairy goods, and Vietnam for its textile and footwear exports. Besides car companies, U.S. producers of sugar and textiles, among some others, are concerned that they will suffer from increased foreign competition.

Q: When will negotiations be finished?

A: TPP negotiators, including President Obama’s top trade official, Michael Froman, had set a goal of reaching agreement by the end of last year. However, their last meeting in December in Singapore ended without a deal, and it appears they have lost some momentum. A new target for concluding talks hasn’t been set, and though there are hopes that an agreement will be completed this year, the midterm elections in the U.S. could present more challenges as free trade has been a hot political issue in the past.

Q: Will Congress approve it?

A: Under the Constitution, treaties require the approval of two-thirds of the Senate. But the administration is seeking congressional approval for trade-promotion authority. Also called fast-track authority, it would give the president the power to negotiate a trade agreement that Congress can approve with a simple majority and with minimal debate and no amendments.

Traditionally, Republican lawmakers have supported trade agreements, but it’s unclear whether tea party or other conservative members of the GOP will back the TPP, especially as it is being negotiated by a Democratic White House. Perhaps more challenging for the administration is the reluctance by senior Democratic lawmakers to grant the president fast-track authority and throw their weight behind the TPP.

A large bipartisan group in both chambers of Congress has pressed the administration to include a provision in the TPP that would prevent trading partners from engaging in currency “manipulation” — a touchy subject that top U.S. trade officials have yet to bring to the TPP table.

don.lee@latimes.com

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times

Read more: http://www.latimes.com/nation/politics/politicsnow/la-pn-trans-pacific-partnership-20140219,0,6747764.story#ixzz2tvoFVcgE


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