The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is facing increasing scrutiny for the extreme secrecy surrounding negotiations around this sweeping new trade deal that could rewrite OUR nation’s laws on everything from healthcare and internet freedom, to food safety and the financial markets. The latest negotiations over the TPP were recently held behind closed doors in Lima, Peru, but the Obama administration has rejected calls to release the current text. Even members of Congress have complained about being shut out of the negotiation process. Regardless of all the Congressional whining about not having sufficient time to read and understand what’s in a bill, let along a treaty, a bill to “fast-track” approval of TPP. Fast-tracking would allow President Obama to sign the treaty (which is massively worse than NAFTA on some seriously wicked steroids) and once signed, Congress would have limited opportunity for debate and would be required to hold an up/down vote within 90 days of the president signing the treaty. Are you kidding me? What are they smokin’ on the Hill?
Last year, a leaked chapter from the draft agreement outlined how the TPP would allow foreign corporations operating in the United States to appeal key regulations to an international tribunal. The body would have the power to override U.S. law and issue penalties for failure to comply with its rulings. We discuss the TPP with two guests: Celeste Drake, a trade policy specialist with the AFL-CIO; and Jim Shultz, executive director of the Democracy Center, which has just released a new report on how corporations use trade rules to seize resources and undermine democracy. “What is the biggest threat to the ability of corporations to go into a country and suck out the natural resources without any regard for the environment or labor standards? The threat is democracy,” Shultz says. “The threat is that citizens will be annoying and get in the way and demand that their governments take action. So what corporations need is to become more powerful than sovereign states. And the way they become more powerful is by tangling sovereign states in a web of these trade agreements.”
Drake adds: “We question the wisdom of pursuing the TPP in the first place. We do have, for better or for worse, the World Trade Organization which has lowered tariffs around the world and has allowed us to increase our exports as Mr. Froman was explaining in his speech. So what the TPP is about is all these other things around the tariffs, so it is about the investor state, dispute tribunals, it’s about harmonizing rules for food safety, it’s about harmonizing rules for intellectual property, a lot of rules that if citizens aren’t really participating in the formation of those rules, they’re not necessarily going to work out to the benefit of working people and American citizens. So we’re very active in following the negotiations and advocating for better rules that will help workers, real farmers, small businesses, because our past trade agreements starting with NAFTA and on down the line have basically been big packages that benefit the 1 percent and if anybody else benefits it’s really only by accident and not really by design.”
You will not see a more honest assessment of the threat to democracy posed by TPP than on DemocracyNow: