Democracy

The TPP and What We All Need to Know

So what is the TPP, and all the other "trade" and "treaty" acronyms being floated around the web?

TPP stands for Trans-Pacific Partnership. Additionally, there are more proposed “trade agreements” that are slowly working toward the implementation of an oligarchic, corporate-controlled, global economy. The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, better known as the TTIP; and the Investor-State Dispute Settlement, ISDS, a mechanism for legal corporate control globally, are also rearing their ugly heads in the quest to supposed global economic unity. However, this supposed global economic unity is just a guise for the corporatization and privatization of the world.

These trade agreements have the potential to subvert governmental rules and regulations in every country that one of these so-called agreements or treaties has been agreed to. The TPP is a secretly designed all-encompassing trade agreement, with thirty chapters that include much more than simple treaty designations; in fact, only six chapters include trade. This never-ending “partnership” will negatively affect food safety, internet freedom, medication costs, employment and manufacturing, financial regulation, and much more. It has been written with no end date in sight, and virtually no mechanism to rid ourselves of it once it is signed into law by Congress. This “partnership” deal has been in negotiations for seven years, yet has only exploded into national discussion in the past two years.

The push for the TPP also has designs to strengthen NAFTA, the United States' current agreement with Canada and Mexico. Many Americans didn’t even know what the TPP was, until former Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders made headlines with his hard stand against it. Many Americans still don’t know what the TPP is or how it could affect them. Many Americans, in their political malaise, simply don’t care. Certainly, Democrats in Congress have voiced skepticism over the benefits. Opposition to the pact became a popular rallying cry in stump speeches by both Donald Trump, who has promised to tear up the deal, and Bernie Sanders, who argued during the Democratic presidential primaries that it would lead to a loss of jobs and competitive wages. Hillary Clinton however, once called it the “gold standard” of trade agreements. She purportedly has voiced opposition to the TPP during the primaries of 2016 ---- however, many progressives don’t trust her statement, and if she gets elected, feel that the TPP will be one of the first issues that she pushes congress to sign. President Obama has already instituted a push for Congress (Fast Track) to sign during the lame duck session in the fall of 2016. This fast-tracking of the voluminous document would assure the administration that Congress wouldn’t know what they were agreeing to, much less even understand. Obama feels that the TPP will be a shining legacy to leave behind from his 8-year term as president.

Progressives see this very differently, and in effect, Obama's push for the TPP has brought a level of distrust to what was once viewed as a trusted presidency by millions. The countries involved in this proposed partnership are the US, Japan, Australia, Peru, Malaysia, Vietnam, New Zealand, Chile, Singapore, Canada, Mexico, and Brunei Darussalam. Additionally, Canada is embarking on its own version of treaty implementation with the European Union. CETA is the comprehensive EU-Canada economic agreement to boost trade, strengthen economic relations and create jobs. The TPP will eliminate tariffs on goods and services and seeks to bring together various regulations between the partner countries. If the agreement goes through, it will affect more than 40% of the imports and exports of the United States. The partnership countries have an annual gross domestic product of nearly $28 trillion that represents roughly 40 percent of global G.D.P. and one-third of world trade.

One area under the guise of protecting intellectual copyright, if the TPP goes through, is the internet. It will change dramatically. It could turn internet service providers into watchdogs, and threaten our ability to communicate unfettered on blogs, forums, websites and social media platforms.

Essentially, the TPP has slipped in a mechanism to shut the progressive online voice right down. In June 2013, US President Obama and European Commission President Barroso officially launched negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). The main objective of the TTIP is to bring together transatlantic rules, regulations and standards on food and consumer product safety, environmental protection, biotechnology and toxic chemicals management, financial services and banking, domestic regulation of services, pharmaceutical patent terms, and many more areas of public policy. EU and US governments will hold onto a “right to regulate” but it will be severely constrained, subsumed under the overall priority of reducing barriers to investment opportunities for multinational corporations, while other partnerships, treaty programs, and alliances are bursting onto the world stage, with the overall dark intention of global corporatization.

Concurrent to the TPP is called the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS). ISDS empowers multinational corporations to sue governments before panels of three corporate lawyers. These corporations need only convince the corporate lawyers that a law or safety regulation in a specific country or state violates their new investor rights.

The corporate lawyers can award the corporations unlimited sums to be paid by whatever country is being sued, including the loss of expected future profits the corporations claim they would have earned if public interest laws were never enacted. For the United States, that means the fines would be paid for with our national resources. Public interest laws being those laws enacted to protect our environment, food, water, health and safety.

 The corporate lawyers’ decisions are not subject to appeal and the US government would have to spend national resources to pay these fines. Interestingly enough, a whole new crop of lawyers is being groomed to join the ranks of corporations in order to get in on the potential litigation bandwagon. If the TPP and TTIP go into effect and include ISDS, they will ultimately litigate away our public health, safety, and environmental laws. TTIP will promote an industrial model of food and farming, threatening the survival of small family farms, local food initiatives, standards for healthy and safe food, animal welfare, the environment, and public health. Any multilateral climate agreement could be undone when government leaders attempt to implement changes in their home countries, including the United States.

Thanks to the thousands of trade agreements that have been negotiated in recent decades, corporations could mount costly and crippling legal challenges to any environmental legislation that gets in the way of profits.

This would be just the tip of the iceberg if, after the implementation of the TPP, TTIP, CETA and ISDS, there are any icebergs left.

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