by Sheila Goldner
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a US-led global alliance that will give free reign to multi-national corporations to pillage raw materials and labor of developing countries without restrictions by governments, trample rights of workers and communities, boost corporate power, and ruin the environment. Today, there are 12 countries in the TPP: the United States, Japan, Australia, Brunei, Chile, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Malaysia, Canada, Mexico and Vietnam.
Of the 29 Chapters, only five actually deal with trade. Six hundred corporate representatives have been involved in the negotiations. The only Member of Congress that has been allowed to see it is Alan Grayson, Democrat of Florida, and he has been sworn to secrecy about its contents. He could not take anyone into the room with him, could not take notes and was told that he couldn’t tell any other Members of Congress about it. And President Obama wants both the House and the Senate to grant him fast track authority, which means limited debate, no amendments, and Congress has to vote it up or down within 90 days.
The national campaign against TPP has been to contact our representatives to vote against fast track, Trade Promotion Authority.
To me, the most outrageous feature of trade agreements since 1994 (starting with the North American Free Trade Agreement, NAFTA) is Investor-to-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS). That basically means that a corporation can sue a government to eliminate a law that will prevent that corporation from making a profit. The number of these cases has grown. From 1959 to 2002, there were fewer than 100 ISDS claims worldwide. But in 2012 alone, there were 58 cases. The case that caught my attention was a Swedish company suing Germany because Germany decided to phase out nuclear power after Japanís Fukushima disaster. The Court hearing the case is above the jurisdiction of Courts in the United States including the Supreme Court — often, it is an agency in the World Bank. And the attorneys who represent the corporations frequently change hats and become the arbitrators. If the corporation doesn’t want to pay the attorneys fees to sue a country, there are a few companies selling interests in the lawsuits as derivatives.
Whether or not the TPP or its European partner, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTP) go through, people in the United States, which constitute less than five percent of the global population, should begin to be aware of the effect our economic policies have on the people of the developing countries, which constitute 85.4% of the global population. One of the reasons they’re called developing countries is because 18,000 children die there every day. The TPP will continue the insistence of the United States to allow our corporations to compete with their cottage industries. This will affect shipping routes and the ecological biodiversity which we are destroying.
Maybe some of the portrayals by mainstream media in the United States of countries against whom we have complaints come from those countries assistance to developing countries.
by Sheila Goldner