Robert Reich. (photo: Perian Flaherty)
oday the United States and 11 other Pacific Rim nations agreed to the Trans-Pacific Partnership — the largest and potentially most damaging regional trade accord in history, that would tie together 40 percent of the world’s economy. Fortunately, the battle isn’t over. The TPP must still pass Congress. That’s where you come in. Please call your senators and congressmen and voice your opposition to it.
The deal is slightly better than the first draft but it would still widen inequality. Global banks and corporations headquartered in the U.S. as well as their executives and biggest shareholders would be the big winners; most other Americans would lose. The deal would:
1. Expand protections for the foreign property of big global corporations.
2. Extend intellectual-property protections for big global pharmaceutical companies, although not as many extra years as Big Pharma had in the first draft.
3. Create special tribunals that can force countries to pay global corporations damages for lost profits due to health, safety, environmental regulations. A code of conduct would govern lawyers selected for these panels but they’ll still be looking over their shoulders at the big corporations who they rely on for business. Thankfully, tobacco companies would be excluded.
4. By encouraging foreign direct investment in all these ways,the deal will make it even easier for big American companies to outsource work abroad. (The administration says the U.S. will gain export jobs but that’s unlikely as long as American wages and the U.S. dollar remain so much higher than the wages and currencies of so many southeast Asian nations.)
5. True, the worker standards in the TPP commit all parties to the International Labor Organization’s standards but almost all these nations are already committed to those standards. Problem is, they haven’t been enforced, and the TPP has no enforcement power beyond what’s already available in the International Labor Organization.
It’s a bad deal for the bottom 90 percent of Americans. Bernie Sanders is against it. Hopefully, Hillary Clinton will be as well. (And just because Donald Trump is also against it doesn’t make it right.)
What do you think?