Trans Pacific Partnership Secret Talks Continue
The Trans Pacific Partnership has been in secret talks since 2008 and is rapidly approaching a newly established deadline of October 2013 for finalization and announcement by the U.S. and 600 corporate advisors. The TPP is the most concerning, certainly the most ambitious global trade pact yet, set to move into its 16th round of negotiations March 4-13 in Singapore.
During the Bush and Obama administrations, the U.S, along with 600 corporate advisors has been negotiating what many global trade watch groups call “frightening” terms of the TPP with Pacific Rim countries Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam. Public Citizen Global Trade Watch reported that as the 15th round of talks, held in Australia in 2012, saw growing public demonstrations take place outside the Auckland Sky City Casino and Convention Center, inside “talks dragged and U.S. officials doubled down on secrecy and pushed extreme corporate demands that are opposed by many of the TPP nations.”
According to Public Citizen National Field Director Alisa Simmons, during a statewide TPP awareness tour in Florida in January, there is a media blackout on TPP. Two text chapters of 29 were leaked from the inside – hence the public awareness of TPP at all. Simmons said that while members of Congress, journalists, and global citizens have no access to terms of the TPP documents, Obama’s advisors and corporations backing TPP do. Robert Spitzer, Senior Trade Policy Advisor with the USDA, Foreign Agriculture Service in Washington, DC said that “some members of the Hill have access to these classified documents and that members of the Ways and Means Committee, Finance, and the House and Senate Agricultural Committee have knowledge of them.”
However, since the leak, activist groups have been working fast to get the word out. Congress has been issuing letters against TPP directly to the Obama administration, suggesting to some that traction is gaining against TPP. Nationally, actions against TPP are building as environmental, labor, safety rights and community activist groups begin to coalesce against TPP and the few known but far-reaching terms of this agreement continue to become known.
Washington-based Public Citizen is calling the TPP “NAFTA on steroids,” referring to the 1994 failed trade experiment between the U.S., Canada and Mexico that introduced deregulation, privatization and outsourcing of U.S. jobs. Salon.com stated that “today, the U.S. has lost one out of every four manufacturing jobs that existed before NAFTA – over 5 million with 42,000 factories closed.”
As with NAFTA, and the larger Central American Free Trade Agreement, or CAFTA, signed in 2004, lax food safety regulations, egregious environmental destruction, greater outsourcing of U.S. jobs, and loss of sovereignty by countries are feared if TPP is allowed to stand. In essence, TPP implies that countries could lose their right to refuse corporate demands and could be heavily fined for impeding a corporation’s right to earn a profit no matter the costs to a country environmentally or otherwise.
Spitzer also confirmed that Florida is represented by a number of corporate agricultural advisors to the TPP. In a press release from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, September 2011, the advisory committee’s initial list of corporate advisors for agriculture was established. TPP Florida agriculture appointees include John Hoblick, Florida Farm Bureau Federation; Reginald Brown, Florida Tomato Exchange; Judy Sanchez, United States Sugar Corporation and Michael Stuart, Florida Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association whose offices are in Orlando. These representatives are appointed through June 9, 2015. Spitzer noted that additional advisory appointments to agriculture for the TPP were still being sought
TPP also involves possible inclusion of privacy acts like failed SOPA and PIPA that didn’t pass in Congress are included in the TPP. Electronic Frontier Foundation declared that “leaked draft texts of the agreement show that the IP chapter would have extensive negative ramifications for users’ freedom of speech, right to privacy and due process, and hinder peoples’ abilities to innovate.”
The obvious lack of transparency has excluded multi-stakeholders, including citizens, from participation in the formation of the largest multinational free trade agreement ever formed and remains largely negotiated in secrecy. TPP brings us a step closer to a true New World Order where government and corporations merge into one. And, right behind TPP is talk of a Trans Atlantic Free Trade Agreement with EU nations as mentioned in Obama’s State of the Union address. Global Trade Watch is monitoring this possible next and final move that would expand corporate control of all global trade.
Now is the time to research the Trans Pacific Partnership FTA and join local groups who are moving against TPP through local educational campaigns and statewide actions. Check the Global Trade Watch and Public Citizen websites and Facebook for updates and additional links on TPP. There is currently a statewide action planned for March 9th in Tampa in the port area and Ybor City areas of Tampa. Speakers from local and state labor groups and other organizations will start at the Roosevelt 2.0 meeting space in Tampa at 1:00 PM, 1812 N. 15th St., Ybor City, Tampa, Florida, 33605. A march will follow to raise awareness of TPP.