Archive for the ‘TPP’ Category

The Most Brazen Corporate Power Grab in American History

November 8, 2015


“There is more than enough evidence from past trade agreements to indicate where the TPP will lead. It is part of the inexorable march by corporations to wrest from us the ability to use government to defend the public and to build social and political organizations that promote the common good.”

The release Thursday of the 5,544-page text of the —a trade and investment agreement involving 12 countries comprising nearly 40 percent of global output—confirms what even its most apocalyptic critics feared.

“The TPP, along with the WTO [World Trade Organization] and NAFTA [North American Free Trade Agreement], is the most brazen corporate power grab in American history,” Ralph Nader told me when I reached him by phone in Washington, D.C. “It allows corporations to bypass our three branches of government to impose enforceable sanctions by secret tribunals. These tribunals can declare our labor, consumer and environmental protections [to be] unlawful, non-tariff barriers subject to fines for noncompliance. The TPP establishes a transnational, autocratic system of enforceable governance in defiance of our domestic laws.”

The TPP is part of a triad of trade agreements that includes the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA). TiSA, by calling for the privatization of all public services, is a mortal threat to the viability of the U.S. Postal Service, public education and other government-run enterprises and utilities; together these operations make up 80 percent of the U.S. economy. The TTIP and TiSA are still in the negotiation phase. They will follow on the heels of the TPP and are likely to go before Congress in 2017.

These three agreements solidify the creeping corporate coup d’état along with the final evisceration of national sovereignty. Citizens will be forced to give up control of their destiny and will be stripped of the ability to protect themselves from corporate predators, safeguard the ecosystem and find redress and justice in our now anemic and often dysfunctional democratic institutions. The agreements—filled with jargon, convoluted technical, trade and financial terms, legalese, fine print and obtuse phrasing—can be summed up in two words: corporate enslavement.

The TPP removes legislative authority from Congress and the White House on a range of issues. Judicial power is often surrendered to three-person trade tribunals in which only corporations are permitted to sue. Workers, environmental and advocacy groups and labor unions are blocked from seeking redress in the proposed tribunals. The rights of corporations become sacrosanct. The rights of citizens are abolished.

The Sierra Club issued a statement after the release of the TPP text saying that the “deal is rife with polluter giveaways that would undermine decades of environmental progress, threaten our climate, and fail to adequately protect wildlife because big polluters helped write the deal.”

If there is no sustained popular uprising to prevent the passage of the TPP in Congress this spring we will be shackled by corporate power. Wages will decline. Working conditions will deteriorate. Unemployment will rise. Our few remaining rights will be revoked. The assault on the ecosystem will be accelerated. Banks and global speculation will be beyond oversight or control. Food safety standards and regulations will be jettisoned. Public services ranging from Medicare and Medicaid to the post office and public education will be abolished or dramatically slashed and taken over by for-profit corporations. Prices for basic commodities, including pharmaceuticals, will skyrocket. Social assistance programs will be drastically scaled back or terminated. And countries that have public health care systems, such as Canada and Australia, that are in the agreement will probably see their public health systems collapse under corporate assault. Corporations will be empowered to hold a wide variety of patents, including over plants and animals, turning basic necessities and the natural world into marketable products. And, just to make sure corporations extract every pound of flesh, any public law interpreted by corporations as impeding projected profit, even a law designed to protect the environment or consumers, will be subject to challenge in an entity called the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) section. The ISDS, bolstered and expanded under the TPP, will see corporations paid massive sums in compensation from offending governments for impeding their “right” to further swell their bank accounts. Corporate profit effectively will replace the common good.

Given the bankruptcy of our political class—including amoral politicians such as Hillary Clinton, who is denouncing the TPP during the presidential campaign but whose unwavering service to corporate capitalism assures her fealty to her corporate backers—the trade agreement has a good chance of becoming law. And because the Obama administration won fast-track authority, a tactic designed by the Nixon administration to subvert democratic debate, President Obama will be able to sign the agreement before it goes to Congress.

The TPP, because of fast track, bypasses the normal legislative process of public discussion and consideration by congressional committees. The House and the Senate, which have to vote on the TPP bill within 90 days of when it is sent to Congress, are prohibited by the fast-track provision from adding floor amendments or holding more than 20 hours of floor debate. Congress cannot raise concerns about the effects of the TPP on the environment. It can only vote yes or no. It is powerless to modify or change one word.

There will be a mass mobilization Nov. 14 through 18 in Washington to begin the push to block the TPP. Rising up to stop the TPP is a far, far better investment of our time and energy than engaging in the empty political theater that passes for a presidential campaign.

“The TPP creates a web of corporate laws that will dominate the global economy,” attorney Kevin Zeese of the group Popular Resistance, which has mounted a long fight against the trade agreement, told me from Baltimore by telephone. “It is a global corporate coup d’état. Corporations will become more powerful than countries. Corporations will force democratic systems to serve their interests. Civil courts around the world will be replaced with corporate courts or so-called trade tribunals. This is a massive expansion that builds on the worst of NAFTA rather than what Barack Obama promised, which was to get rid of the worst aspects of NAFTA.”

The agreement is the product of six years of work by global capitalists from banks, insurance companies, Goldman Sachs, Monsanto and other corporations.

“It was written by them [the corporations], it is for them and it will serve them,” Zeese said of the TPP. “It will hurt domestic businesses and small businesses. The buy-American provisions will disappear. Local communities will not be allowed to build buy-local campaigns. The thrust of the agreement is the privatization and commodification of everything. The agreement has built within it a deep antipathy to state-supported or state-owned enterprises. It gives away what is left of our democracy to the World Trade Organization.”

The economist David Rosnick, in a report on the TPP by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), estimated that under the trade agreement only the top 10 percent of U.S. workers would see their wages increase. Rosnick wrote that the real wages of middle-income U.S. workers (from the 35th percentile to the 80th percentile) would decline under the TPP. NAFTA, contributing to a decline in manufacturing jobs (now only 9 percent of the economy), has forced workers into lower-paying service jobs and resulted in a decline in real wages of between 12 and 17 percent. The TPP would only accelerate this process, Rosnick concluded.

“This is a continuation of the global race to the bottom,” Dr. Margaret Flowers, also from Popular Resistance and a candidate for the U.S. Senate, said from Baltimore in a telephone conversation with me. “Corporations are free to move to countries that have the lowest labor standards. This drives down high labor standards here. It means a decimation of industries and unions. It means an accelerated race to the bottom, which we must rise up to stop.”

“In Malaysia one-third of tech workers are essentially slaves,” Zeese said. “In Vietnam the minimum wage is 35 cents an hour. Once these countries are part of the trade agreement U.S. workers are put in a very difficult position.”

Fifty-one percent of working Americans now make less than $30,000 a year,a new study by the Social Security Administration reported. Forty percent are making less than $20,000 a year. The federal government considers a family of four living on an income of less than $24,250 to be in poverty.

“Half of American workers earn essentially the poverty level,” Zeese said. “This agreement only accelerates this trend. I don’t see how American workers are going to cope.”

The assault on the American workforce by NAFTA—which was established under the Clinton administration in 1994 and which at the time promised creation of 200,000 net jobs a year in the United States—has been devastating. NAFTA has led to a $181 billion trade deficit with Mexico and Canada and the loss of at least 1 million U.S. jobs, according to a report by Public Citizen. The flooding of the Mexican market with cheap corn by U.S. agro-businesses drove down the price of Mexican corn and saw 1 million to 3 million poor Mexican farmers go bankrupt and lose their small farms. Many of them crossed the border into the United States in a desperate effort to find work.

“Obama has misled the public throughout this process,” Dr. Flowers said. “He claimed that environmental groups were supportive of the agreement because it provided environmental protections, and this has now been proven false. He told us that it would create 650,000 jobs, and this has now been proven false. He calls this a 21st century trade agreement, but it actually rolls back progress made in Bush-era trade agreements. The most recent model of a 21st century trade agreement is the Korean free trade agreement. That was supposed to create 140,000 U.S. jobs. But what we saw within a couple years was a loss of about 70,000 jobs and a larger trade deficit with Korea. This agreement [the TPP] is sold to us with the same deceits that were used to sell us NAFTA and other trade agreements.”

The agreement, in essence, becomes global law. Any agreements over carbon emissions by countries made through the United Nations are effectively rendered null and void by the TPP.

“Trade agreements are binding,” Flowers said. “They supersede any of the nonbinding agreements made by the United Nations Climate Change Conference that might come out of Paris.”

There is more than enough evidence from past trade agreements to indicate where the TPP—often called “NAFTA on steroids”—will lead. It is part of the inexorable march by corporations to wrest from us the ability to use government to defend the public and to build social and political organizations that promote the common good. Our corporate masters seek to turn the natural world and human beings into malleable commodities that will be used and exploited until exhaustion or collapse. Trade agreements are the tools being used to achieve this subjugation. The only response left is open, sustained and defiant popular revolt.

Now We Can Stop the TPP

October 17, 2015

Months ago, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), also known as NAFTA on steroids, looked like a done deal. Now it looks stopable.

Please click here to sign this petition:

To the Speaker of the House, Democratic Party Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Democratic Party Leader Harry Reid,

We are writing to urge the Congress to reject the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). This agreement would destroy jobs, degrade the environment, undermine the Internet and weaken U.S. democracy and sovereignty.

Research and the history of trade agreements since NAFTA show that these types of trade agreements produce trade deficits, lost jobs, lower wages, and environmental damage.

We’ve stopped them before. Click here to help stop this one.

The TPP’s scope is too broad. It usurps the legislative authority of Congress by writing rules concerning safety and labeling of foods, access to healthcare and medicine, regulation of banks, rights or workers, future energy sources and so much more. Essentially, its scope is everything.

These are issues that should be considered by Congress not written in secret by trade negotiators. In our representative democracy these types of issues should be publicly debated, hearings should be held and people should express their views before a law is passed.

In addition to undermining the legislative authority, the TPP weakens federal courts by expanding Trade Tribunals through investor state dispute settlement rules. The experience of the TPP indicates that Congress needs to reconsider how trade agreements are developed: trade should put the needs of people and protection of the planet before profits; and trade needs to be negotiated with transparency and participation of the people.

Add your name.

After signing the petition, please forward this message to your friends.

> Economic Policy Institute: What’s Wrong with the TPP? This deal would lead to more job loss and downward pressures on the wages of most working Americans
> Jim Hightower: TransPacific Partnership – Corporate Coup d’Etat Against Us
> Alliance for Democracy: Why People Oppose the TPP, TTIP and TiSA
> Joan Brunwasser: TPP Fight is Not Over
> Flush the TPP: Call to Action Against Global Corporate Domination

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After Years of Backroom Secrecy, Public Will Finally Get to See Full TPP Text

October 9, 2015
Published on

Legislative clock starts ticking as Obama administration prepares to release text of pro-corporate trade deal

Protesters have long decried the lack of transparency around TPP negotiations. (Photo: SumofUs/flickr/cc)

After being shrouded in secrecy for years, the full contents of the 12-nation Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) will soon be brought into the sunlight.

According to Kevin Collier at Daily Dot, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman has said the text will be made available to the public at large in approximately 30 days—on or around November 7.

“[We] look forward to having it released as soon as possible,” Froman said in a press call Wednesday that was embargoed until Thursday morning. “We’re shooting to do it within the 30 days following the completion of the negotiations.”

Under the terms of the Fast Track legislation passed earlier this year, lawmakers will not be able to amend or filibuster the pro-corporate “trade” deal that was completed this week.

President Barack Obama must wait at least 90 days after formally notifying Congress of the deal before he can sign it and send it to Capitol Hill, and the full text of the agreement must be made public for at least 60 of those days. Congress gets to spend the first 30 days of that time privately reviewing the documents and consulting with the administration.

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As Kelsey Snell wrote for the Washington Post, that 60-day public comment window “will provide critical insight into how much popular support the deal may receive. A poor reception during the public phase could make it difficult for Obama to rally support when it comes time for Congress to vote.”

Snell continued:

The next step will be for the U.S. International Trade Commission to conduct a full economic review of the deal. The agency has up to 105 days to complete that work but the process could take much less time.

Once the implementing bill is introduced in the House and the Senate, Congress has a maximum of 90 days to approve or disapprove the trade deal but can move much more quickly.

However, Public Citizen’s Lori Wallach has pointed out (pdf) that 2016 election politics may imperil the deal. “The intense national battle over trade authority was just a preview of the massive opposition the TPP will face given that Democratic and GOP members of Congress and the public soon will be able to see the specific TPP terms that threaten their interests,” she said (pdf) on Monday.

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TPP: A Bad Deal for the Bottom 90 Percent of Americans

October 5, 2015

Robert Reich. (photo: Perian Flaherty)
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?


BREAKING: The Trans-Pacific Partnership Is Headed to Congress

October 5, 2015
Food & Water Watch
Say NO to the Largest, Pro-Corporate Trade Deal Ever


Stop Secret Trade Deals

Tell Your Members of Congress: Vote NO on the TPP!

Dear all,

Today, U.S. Trade Representatives finalized the text for the largest trade deal in history — the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The deal has been negotiated by hundreds of “advisers” from some of the world’s most powerful corporations while the public has been shut out.

The TPP could cost us good paying jobs, increase fracking and unsafe food imports, and undermine democracy by giving corporations even more power.

Now it’s up to Congress to pass or reject the TPP. Tell your members of Congress: Vote NO on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

The TPP is being called NAFTA on steroids and has been negotiated in secret since 2008 among some of the world’s most powerful corporations.

Pro-big business trade deals like the TPP are designed to boost the profits of multinational corporations, but they do so at the expense of working families, our environment and our democratic rights.

Leaked documents have revealed just how terrible this trade deal is, including a key provision that would allow foreign companies to sue the federal government over democratically enacted laws that they claim hurt their profits.¹ That means that if the TPP goes through, local initiatives like GMO labeling laws and fracking bans could be challenged in international trade courts.

Lobbyists for corporate interests and the elite in Washington are pushing hard to pass the TPP as soon as possible. There’s a lot wrong with our current political system, but we’ve reached a new low if we allow corporate special interests to write our laws.

Take action to oppose the TPP and protect everyone’s right to safe food and clean water.

The national movement to block trade deals that put big business before the public is already working to stop the TPP dead in its tracks.

Now that the U.S. Trade Representatives have finalized the deal, the TPP will be sent to Congress. Once the clock starts ticking, we have about four-and-a-half months to stop this deal.² This puts the final vote on the TPP smack in the middle of the presidential primaries. Traditionally, the Republican establishment has pushed trade deals favored by their corporate backers, but infighting within the Republican Party has put the votes to pass the TPP into question.

We still have a chance to stop this bad deal. Take action to reject the TPP.

It is long past time for Congress to stand up for workers, the environment and public health and to reject these corporate trade deals.

Contact your members of Congress TODAY and urge them to oppose the TPP.

Thanks for all you do,

Miranda Carter

Miranda Carter
National Online Campaign Manager
Food & Water Watch

1. Leaked Documents Underscore How TPP Will Provide Special Rights for Corporations, Patrick Woodall, Food & Water Watch blog, March 27, 2015.
2. The unexpected upshot of John Boehner’s ouster: The Trans-Pacific Partnership is in danger, Salon, September 29, 2015.

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Pacific Rim trade pact gets skeptical greeting in Congress

October 5, 2015


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2 hours ago • By Richard Cowan and David Lawder • Reuters2

Cranes load containers onto the ships at the Port of Los Angeles, Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2015, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Enlarge Photo

Updated at 11 a.m. Monday

WASHINGTON • A 12-nation Pacific Rim trade pact hammered out over the weekend in Atlanta got a rocky response in Washington on Monday from U.S. lawmakers, indicating it has a long, difficult road ahead as Congress considers whether or not to approve it.

Even influential Republicans, who had championed the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), initially criticized the result but didn’t pinpoint specific concerns.

“I am afraid this deal appears to fall woefully short,” said Republican Senator Orrin Hatch, who chairs the Senate Finance Committee that oversees trade.

Earlier this year after a bruising battle, Congress gave Democratic President Barack Obama the green light to wrap up talks on the TPP, which would liberalize trade among countries ranging from Japan to Chile and covering 40 percent of the world’s economy.

Obama had hoped to quickly conclude talks on the agreement so Congress could review and vote on it before the U.S. presidential campaigns shifted into full swing. That hope was dashed by delays around the negotiating table, however.

Now the pact is unlikely to come before Congress for an up-or-down vote until well into the presidential primaries, exposing it to the full rhetoric of the campaign season.

Many of Obama’s fellow Democrats in Congress and organized labor fear the trade pact will hurt American jobs.

Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent seeking the Democratic nomination for president, blasted the agreement saying, “Wall Street and other big corporations have won again.”

Months are likely to go by as the TPP package is finalized, reviewed and debated by Congress. Under “fast-track” authority granted by Congress, lawmakers have the power to review the agreement and cast an up-or-down vote, but not amend it.

Representative Sandy Levin, the senior Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee that also oversees trade, warned that a 90-day review period could result in adjustments.

Levin applauded the pact for making progress on worker rights issues in Vietnam and Malaysia and on tobacco issues. He added, however, that Mexico must do more to comply with an existing free-trade deal with the U.S.

The Obama administration is hoping a well-coordinated campaign over the next several months will convince lawmakers that the free-trade deal will have more benefits than costs.

Republican Representative Kevin Brady, a senior member of the Ways and Means Committee, said in a statement: “Done right, this agreement will open a billion middle class customers to American goods and services.”


Our earlier story, from Reuters, posted at 7:33 a.m. Monday

ATLANTA • Pacific trade ministers have reached a deal on the most sweeping trade liberalization pact in a generation that will cut trade barriers and set common standards for 12 countries, an official familiar with the talks said on Monday.

Leaders from a dozen Pacific Rim nations are poised to announce the pact later on Monday. The deal could reshape industries and influence everything from the price of cheese to the cost of cancer treatments.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership would affect 40 percent of the world economy and would stand as a legacy-defining achievement for U.S. President Barack Obama, if it is ratified by Congress.

Lawmakers in other TPP countries must also approve the deal.

The final round of negotiations in Atlanta, which began on Wednesday, had snared on the question of how long a monopoly period should be allowed on next-generation biotech drugs, until the United States and Australia negotiated a compromise.

The TPP deal has been controversial because of the secret negotiations that have shaped it over the past five years and the perceived threat to an array of interest groups from Mexican auto workers to Canadian dairy farmers.

Although the complex deal sets tariff reduction schedules on hundreds of imported items from pork and beef in Japan to pickup trucks in the United States, one issue had threatened to derail talks until the end — the length of the monopolies awarded to the developers of new biological drugs.

Negotiating teams had been deadlocked over the question of the minimum period of protection to the rights for data used to make biologic drugs, made by companies including Pfizer Inc., Roche Group’s Genentech and Japan’s Takeda Pharmaceutical Co.

The United States had sought 12 years of protection to encourage pharmaceutical companies to invest in expensive biological treatments like Genentech’s cancer treatment Avastin. Australia, New Zealand and public health groups had sought a period of five years to bring down drug costs and the burden on state-subsidized medical programs.

Negotiators agreed on a compromise on minimum terms that was short of what U.S. negotiators had sought and that would effectively grant biologic drugs a period of about eight years free from the threat of competition from generic versions, people involved in the closed-door talks said.

The Washington, D.C.-based Biotechnology Industry Association said it was “very disappointed” by reports that U.S. negotiators had not been able to convince Australia and other TPP members to adopt the 12-year standard approved by Congress.

“We will carefully review the entire TPP agreement once the text is released by the ministers,” the industry lobby said in a statement.


A politically charged set of issues surrounding protections for dairy farmers was also addressed in the final hours of talks, officials said. New Zealand, home to the world’s biggest dairy exporter, Fonterra, wanted increased access to U.S., Canadian and Japanese markets.

Separately, the United States, Mexico, Canada and Japan also agreed rules governing the auto trade that dictate how much of a vehicle must be made within the TPP region in order to qualify for duty-free status.

The North American Free Trade Agreement between Canada, the United States and Mexico mandates that vehicles have a local content of 62.5 percent. The way that rule is implemented means that just over half of a vehicle needs to be manufactured locally. It has been credited with driving a boom in auto-related in investment in Mexico.

The TPP would give Japan’s automakers, led by Toyota Motor Corp., a freer hand to buy parts from Asia for vehicles sold in the United States but sets long phase-out periods for U.S. tariffs on Japanese cars and light trucks.

The TPP deal being readied for expected announcement on Monday also sets minimum standards on issues ranging from workers’ rights to environmental protection. It also sets up dispute settlement guidelines between governments and foreign investors separate from national courts.


Our earlier story, from Reuters, posted at 3 p.m. Sunday

ATLANTA • A dozen Pacific nations closed in on a sweeping free trade pact on Sunday in Atlanta after a breakthrough over how long a monopoly pharmaceutical companies should be given on new biotech drugs.

The issue has pitted the United States, which has argued for longer protections, against Australia and five other delegations who say such measures would strain national health care budgets and keep life-saving medicines from patients who cannot afford them.

The compromise would preserve Australia’s existing five-year protection period but would also offer flexibility on longer drug monopolies, potentially creating two tracks on future drug pricing within the trading bloc, a person close to the negotiations said.

The terms of that compromise, hammered out after a third all-night round of negotiations between Australia and the United States, still had to find support from other nations such as Chile and Peru, other people involved in the talks said.

Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo said he could not reveal details of the compromise on biologics “until everyone has signed up and we are all on the same page.”

But officials were increasingly confident of completing a deal that has been in negotiations for five years. Japan’s Economy Minister Akira Amari said he had called Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to notify him that a deal was within sight.

The United States offers 12 years of exclusivity for the clinical data used in developing drugs like cancer therapy Avastin, developed by Genentech, a division of Roche in order to encourage innovation. Australia insisted on five years of protection to bring down drug prices more quickly.

The trade pact, the Trans Pacific Partnership, or TPP, would lower tariffs and set common standards for 12 economies led by the United States and Japan, which together account for 40 percent of global output.

President Barack Obama has pushed for a deal as a way to open markets to U.S. exports, including financial services and pharmaceuticals. U.S. officials have also promoted the deal as a counterweight to China and that rising power’s vision for Asia.

The talks in Atlanta were extended by 24 hours to a fifth day on Sunday. A handful of protesters unfurled a “Stop TPP” banner at the Westin hotel, where the talks were taking place, on Sunday morning. They were escorted away by security and police.

By Saturday, the United States and Japan had reached agreement in principle on trade in autos and auto parts in talks that had also included Canada and Mexico. That agreement is expected to give U.S. automakers, led by General Motors and Ford, two decades or more of tariff protection against low-cost pickup truck imports from Thailand or elsewhere in Asia, people briefed on the talks have said.

But the TPP deal taking shape would also give Japan’s auto industry, led by Toyota Motor, a freer hand to source parts from Asia, including from plants outside the TPP-zone like China, on vehicles sold in North America.

A “rule of origin” would stipulate that only 45 percent of a vehicle would have to be sourced from within the TPP, down from the equivalent ratio of 62.5 percent under NAFTA, officials have said.

New Zealand wants to ensure its dairy industry, dominated by Fonterra, the world’s largest dairy exporter, comes out as a clear winner in a TPP deal by opening markets like Canada, Mexico, Japan and the United States.

If U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, who is chairing the Atlanta talks, manages to steer them to a conclusion on Sunday, that would mark the start of a political fight to get the deal approved in the United States.

The Obama administration relied on Republican votes to win fast-track trade negotiating authority from Congress in July, setting up a straight yes or no vote on any deal.

Many Democrats and labor groups have raised questions about what the TPP would mean for jobs in manufacturing and environmental protections. Meanwhile Republicans, including Sen. Orrin Hatch, the powerful chairman of the Senate finance committee, have urged the administration to hold the line on intellectual property protections, including for biologic drugs.

Additional reporting by Lincoln Feast in Sydney.

Sanders Vows to Stop ‘Disastrous’ TPP as Ministers Seal Deal for Corporate Elite

October 5, 2015

After marathon negotiations in Atlanta, leaders from 12 nations cement pactwhich coalition of critics say will raise the price of essential drugs, drive industrial scale agribusiness, and threaten workers rights

The Trans-Pacific Partnership will tie together as much as 40 percent of the world's economy. (Photo: Reuters handout)The Trans-Pacific Partnership will tie together as much as 40 percent of the world’s economy. (Photo: Reuters handout)

Amid a last minute scramble, leaders from the United States and 11 other Pacific Rim countries announced Monday that they had reached agreement on a sweeping trade deal, one that critics, including US presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, say will slash standards and protections for both consumers and workers—with impacts to be felt across the globe.

The agreement, known as the Trans Pacific Partnership (or TPP), which would tie together as much as 40 percent of the world’s economy, has for nearly 8 years been negotiated in secret. Though details of the compromise were not yet revealed early Monday, critics said that—minutia aside—the global trade pact will certainly be a boon for corporate power

“TPP is a deal for big business,” said Nick Dearden, director of the UK-based Nick Dearden,Global Justice Now.

“Wall Street and other big corporations have won again. It is time for the rest of us to stop letting multi-national corporations rig the system to pad their profits at our expense.”
– Bernie Sanders
Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders was also quick to condemn the deal. Saying he was disappointed but not surprised by the “disastrous” agreement, Sanders added: “Wall Street and other big corporations have won again. It is time for the rest of us to stop letting multi-national corporations rig the system to pad their profits at our expense.”

The compromise was reached after five days of round-the-clock negotiations in Atlanta, Georgia. U.S. President Barack Obama reportedly “spent recent days contacting world leaders to seal the deal.”

The negotiations had been extended after talks got stuck over the issue of how long a monopoly period should be allowed on next-generation biotech drugs. The compromise reportedly reached between the U.S. and Australia “is a hybrid that protects companies’ data for five years to eight years,” the New York Times reports, falling short of the 12 years desired by U.S. negotiators.

Other final compromises reportedly reached included “more open markets for dairy products and sugar, and a slow phaseout—over two to three decades—of the tariffs on Japan’s autos sold in North America,” the Times continues.

One of the more controversial aspects of the deal is the Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provision, which permits multinational companies to sue governments over allegations that profits were lost due to local regulations.

“Two fifths of the global economy will be covered by corporate courts, meaning a huge rise in governments being sued for protecting the public interest from corporate greed,” Dearden explained. Then highlighting some of the other alarming provisions of the deal, he continued: “Medicine prices will rise as Big Pharma gets more power to monopolize markets. Small farmers will suffer from unfair competition with industrial scale agribusiness. No wonder this has been agreed in secret.”

Chris Shelton, president of the Communication Workers of America, said the agreement is “bad news” for working families and communities. In a statement, Shelton said, “Despite broad promises from the Obama administration,” the TPP “would continue the offshoring of jobs and weakening of our communities that started under the North American Free Trade Agreement,” and “would mean labor and environmental standards that look good on paper but fall flat when it comes to enforcement.”

“It’s a corporate dream but a nightmare for those of us on Main Street,” he added.

It now falls on signatory governments to ratify the agreement. In the U.S., many members of Congress as well as presidential candidates have expressed skepticism over the pact, which heretofore had been largely undisclosed to legislators. Reportedly, the full 30-chapter text will not be available for another month.

Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch questions whether the pact will pass in Congress, given the amount of pushback the deal recieved when the U.S. House and Senate voted this summer to pass Fast Track trade promotion authority.

Wallach explains: “If there really is a deal, its fate in Congress is at best uncertain given that since the trade authority vote, the small bloc of Democrats who made the narrow margin of passage have made demands about TPP currency, drug patent and environmental terms that are likely not in the final deal, while the GOP members who switched to supporting Fast Track in the last weeks demand enforceable currency terms, stricter rules of origin for autos, auto parts and apparel, and better dairy access for U.S. producers.”

For his part, Senator Sanders said he “will do all that I can to defeat this agreement.” in the U.S. Senate. “We need trade policies that benefit American workers and consumers, not just the CEOs of large multi-national corporations,” he added.

In Canada, the deal comes just two weeks ahead of national elections. In a statement, Maude Barlow, national chairperson of the Council of Canadians encouraged Canadians to “vote against the TPP” during the upcoming election.

“Just what are we supposed to make of a deal that has been kept secret from the Canadian public?” Barlow asks. “Our own legislators don’t even know what’s in it.

“The Harper government has signed a deal that will lay off thousands of auto workers and put thousands of dairy farmers in jeopardy while giving even more foreign corporations the right to dictate Canadian policy,” she continued, adding that “Stephen Harper negotiated the TPP during an election when his mandate is simply to be a caretaker government. Parliament now has the ability to vote on the TPP. We strongly encourage the next government to reject it.”

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Obama’s Betrayal Moves Forward– Eleven Nations Agree on TPP

October 5, 2015


OpEdNews Op Eds 10/5/2015 at 10:16:56

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The TPP Trans Pacific Partnership is a betrayal of voters and the 99% throughout the world, not just the USA.

Big business supporting neoliberals are cheering Obama, saying this cements his legacy. I agree, but it is a shameful legacy that condemns Obama to the garbage dump of history.

The next step is fast track approval of this despicable deal in congress. Will legislators attempt to sell this ugly gift to big Pharma, Hollywood, publishers and big transnational companies, as well as slavers in Malaysia as something beneficial to average US citizens? You bet they will.

it will be interesting to see the stands Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden will take. Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump have already registered their opposition to TPP. Here’s a tweet from Bernie Sanders today.

Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Deal Is Reached

October 5, 2015

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World Leaders React to Trade Agreement
The United States trade representative, Michael Froman, and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan discuss the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal. By REUTERS on Publish Date October 5, 2015. Watch in Times Video »

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ATLANTA — The United States and 11 other Pacific Rim nations on Monday agreed to the largest regional trade accord in history, a potentially precedent-setting model for global commerce and worker standards that would tie together 40 percent of the world’s economy, from Canada and Chile to Japan and Australia.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership still faces months of debate in Congress and will inject a new flash point into both parties’ presidential contests.

But the accord — a product of nearly eight years of negotiations, including five days of round-the-clock sessions here — is a potentially legacy-making achievement for President Obama, and the capstone for his foreign policy “pivot” toward closer relations with fast-growing eastern Asia, after years of American preoccupation with the Middle East and North Africa.

Trade ministers from Pacific nations met in Atlanta in a bid to get a final agreement on the largest regional trade accord in history.As Pacific Trade Negotiators Haggle, U.S. Officials Remain HopefulOCT. 4, 2015
Mr. Obama spent recent days contacting world leaders to seal the deal. Administration officials have repeatedly pressed their contention that the partnership would build a bulwark against China’s economic influence, and allow the United States and its allies — not Beijing — to set the standards for Pacific commerce.

The Pacific accord would phase out thousands of import tariffs as well as other barriers to international trade. It also would establish uniform rules on corporations’ intellectual property, open the Internet even in communist Vietnam and crack down on wildlife trafficking and environmental abuses.

Ford Motor Co. quickly issued a statement opposing the agreement, saying it would not meaningfully arrest currency manipulation by United States trading partners. “To ensure the future competitiveness of American manufacturing, we recommend Congress not approve T.P.P. in its current form,” the automaker said.

Several potentially deal-breaking disputes had kept the 12 trade ministers talking through the weekend and forced them repeatedly to reschedule the promised Sunday announcement of the deal into the evening and beyond. Final compromises covered commercial protections for drug makers’ advanced medicines, more open markets for dairy products and sugar, and a slow phaseout — over two to three decades — of the tariffs on Japan’s autos sold in North America.

Yet the trade agreement almost certainly will encounter stiff opposition.

Its full 30-chapter text will not be available for perhaps a month, but labor unions, environmentalists and liberal activists are poised to argue that the agreement favors big business over workers and environmental protection. Donald Trump has repeatedly castigated the Pacific trade accord as “a bad deal,” injecting conservative populism into the debate and emboldening some congressional Republicans who fear for local interests like sugar and rice, and many conservatives who oppose Mr. Obama at every turn.

Long before an accord was reached, it was being condemned by both Mr. Trump, the Republican presidential front-runner, and Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who is challenging Hillary Rodham Clinton for the Democrats’ nomination. Other candidates also have been critical. Mrs. Clinton, who as secretary of state promoted the trade talks, has expressed enough wariness as she has campaigned among unions and other audiences on the left that her support is now in doubt.


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Still, in Congress the outcome for ratifying the agreement “will be affected by what’s in it, and that’s the way it should be,” said Representative Sander Levin of Michigan, in an interview here before the deal came together. He was the one lawmaker to come to Atlanta to monitor final talks.

Mr. Levin, the ranking Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction for trade, has supported some trade pacts but was skeptical of this one. He is concerned about unfair competition from Japan for his state’s automakers and union workers. In particular, Mr. Levin objected that language addressing Japan’s devaluation of its currency, which reduces the cost of its auto exports, would not be in the trade agreement but rather in a side agreement that would be hard to enforce against currency scofflaws.

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Trans-Pacific Partnership Countries

United States
Vietnam $36
Brunei $0.6
Malaysia $44
Total goods traded with the United States in 2014
New Zealand
Imports plus exports, not including services, in billions of dollars
Census Bureau
By The New York Times
The Office of the United States Trade Representative said the partnership eventually would end more than 18,000 tariffs that the participating countries have placed on United States exports, including autos, machinery, information technology and consumer goods, chemicals and agricultural products ranging from avocados in California to wheat, pork and beef from the Plains states.

Japan’s other barriers, like regulations and design criteria that effectively keep out American-made cars and light trucks, would come down.

While many opponents say the trade pact will kill jobs or send them overseas, the administration contends that the United States has more to gain from freer trade with the Pacific nations. Eighty percent of those nations’ exports to the United States are already duty-free, officials say, while American products face assorted barriers in those countries that would end.

Also, the administration contends that increased United States sales abroad would create jobs in export industries, which generally pay more than jobs in domestic-only businesses.

The parties to the accord also include New Zealand, Mexico, Peru, Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei.

The accord for the first time would require state-owned businesses like those in Vietnam and Malaysia to comply with commercial trade rules and labor and environmental standards. Michael B. Froman, the United States trade representative, called the labor and environmental rules the strongest ever in a trade agreement and a model for future pacts, although some environmental groups and most unions remained implacably opposed. The worker standards commit all parties to the International Labor Organization’s principles for collective bargaining, a minimum wage and safe workplaces, and against child labor, forced labor and excessive hours.

Unions and human rights groups have been skeptical at best that Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei will improve labor conditions, or that Malaysia will stop human trafficking of poor workers from Myanmar and Southeast Asia. The United States reached separate agreements with the three nations on enforcing labor standards, which would allow American tariffs to be restored if a nation is found in violation after a dispute-settlement process.


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On the environment, the accord has provisions against wildlife trafficking, illegal or unsustainable logging and fishing, and protections for a range of marine species and animals including elephants and rhinoceroses.

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For the first time in a trade agreement there are provisions to help small businesses without the resources of big corporations to deal with trade barriers and red tape. A committee would be created to assist smaller companies.

The agreement also would overhaul special tribunals that handle trade disputes between businesses and participating nations. The changes, which also are expected to set a precedent for future trade pacts, respond to widespread criticisms that the Investor-State Dispute Settlement panels favor businesses and interfere with nations’ efforts to pass rules safeguarding public health and safety.

Among new provisions, a code of conduct would govern lawyers selected for arbitration panels. And tobacco companies would be excluded, to end the practice of using the panels to sue countries that pass antismoking laws. On Sunday, Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, hailed the provision as “historic.”

In a concession likely to be problematic with leading Republicans, the United States agreed that brand-name pharmaceutical companies would have a period shorter than the current 12 years to keep secret their data on producing so-called biologics, which are advanced medicines made from living organisms. Senator Orrin G. Hatch of Utah, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over trade, has threatened to withdraw his support for the accord if United States negotiators agree to loosening pharmaceutical industry protections against American law.

But arrayed against the United States, which said the protection was a necessary incentive for drug makers to innovate, were virtually every other country at the table, led by Australia. The generic drug industry and nonprofit health groups also strenuously opposed the United States’ position, pressing for access to the data within five years to speed lower-priced “biosimilars” to market. The compromise is a hybrid that protects companies’ data for five years to eight years.

Only once that intellectual property issue was settled did several nations, including Canada, New Zealand and the United States, turn to the arcane details of further opening their dairy markets.

Months of final drafting, analyses and debate lie ahead. Mr. Obama cannot sign the accord until Congress has its 90 days to review the pact’s details.

The difficulty the president confronts was foreshadowed earlier this year by his narrow victory in winning “fast track” trade promotion authority from Congress. That authority guarantees that trade pacts will get expedited consideration in Congress — a yes-or-no vote without amendments or filibusters.

Passage of fast-track power eased Mr. Obama’s ability to conclude the Pacific accord as well as to continue negotiating a separate, more difficult trade pact with Europe. Other nations might balk at making a trade deal with the United States, the argument goes, if the terms could be effectively rewritten in Congress.

Obama Admin’s TPP Trade Officials Received Hefty Bonuses From Big Banks

July 4, 2015

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Officials tapped by the Obama administration to lead the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade negotiations have received multimillion dollar bonuses from CitiGroup and Bank of America, financial disclosures obtained by Republic Report show.

From Stefan M. Selig

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, a Bank of America investment banker nominated to become the Under Secretary for International Trade at the Department of Commerce, received more than $9 million in bonus pay as he was nominated to join the administration in November. The bonus pay came in addition to the $5.1 million in incentive pay awarded to Selig last year.
Michael Froman, the current U.S. Trade Representative, received over $4 million as part of multiple exit payments when he left CitiGroup to join the Obama administration. Froman told Senate Finance Committee members last summer that he donated approximately 75 percent of the $2.25 million bonus he received for his work in 2008 to charity. CitiGroup also gave Froman a $2 million payment in connection to his holdings in two investment funds, which was awarded “in recognition of [Froman’s] service to Citi in various capacities since 1999.”

Many large corporations with a strong incentive to influence public policy award bonuses and other incentive pay to executives if they take jobs within the government. CitiGroup, for instance, provides an executive contract that awards additional retirement pay upon leaving to take a “full time high level position with the U.S. government or regulatory body.” Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase, the Blackstone Group, Fannie Mae, Northern Trust, and Northrop Grumman are among the other firms that offer financial rewards upon retirement for government service.

Froman joined the administration in 2009. Selig is currently awaiting Senate confirmation before he can take his post, which collaborates with the trade officials to support the TPP.

The controversial TPP trade deal has rankled activists for containing provisions that would newly empower corporations to sue governments in ad hoc arbitration tribunals to demand compensation from governments for laws and regulations they claim undermine their business interests. Leaked TPP negotiation documents show the Obama administration is seeking to prevent foreign governments from issuing a broad variety of financial rules designed to stem another bank crisis.


A leaked text of the TPP’s investment chapter shows that the pact would include the controversial investor-state dispute resolution system. A fact-sheet provided by Public Citizen explains how multi-national corporations may use the TPP deal to skirt domestic courts and local laws. The arrangement would allows corporations to go after governments before foreign tribunals to demand compensations for tobacco, prescription drug and environment protections that they claim would undermine their expected future profits. Last year, Senator Elizabeth Warren warned that trade agreements such as the TPP provide “a chance for these banks to get something done quietly out of sight that they could not accomplish in a public place with the cameras rolling and the lights on.”

Others have raised similar alarm.

“Not only do US treaties mandate that all forms of finance move across borders freely and without delay, but deals such as the TPP would allow private investors to directly file claims against governments that regulate them, as opposed to a WTO-like system where nation states (ie the regulators) decide whether claims are brought,” notes Boston University associate professor Kevin Gallagher.

This article originally appeared on Republic Report

LEE FANG Lee Fang is a reporting fellow with The Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute. He covers money in politics, conservative movements and lobbying. Lee’s work has resulted in multiple calls for hearings in Congress and the (more…)

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