Friday, August 2, 2013


The Trans-Pacific Partnership

Temecula, CA – What is the Trans-Pacific Partnership? The Trans-Pacific Partnership is:  1. A “free trade” agreement that would set rules on non-trade matters such as food safety, internet freedom, medicine costs, financial regulation, and the environment.  2. A binding international governance system that would require the United States, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam, Japan, and any other country that signs on to conform their domestic policies to its rules.  3. A secret trade negotiation that has included over 600 official corporate “trade advisors,” while hiding the text from Members of Congress, governors, state legislators, the press, civil society, and the public.

The Obama administration is currently mired in an ambitious project to accomplish both the continuation of the WTO’s agenda and a restructuring of NAFTA in ways that place corporate property rights over protection of people and the environment. Using the friendly term, ‘partnership,’ the administration is negotiating a sweeping free trade agreement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which could potentially involve the entire Pacific Rim as well as a sister agreement with European nations. This is being done largely in secret and in a way that subverts the democratic process.

Former US Trade Representative Ron Kirk, who now has a lucrative job in the private sector advising transnational corporations for the law firm Gibson Dunn, said that if people knew what was in the TPP, there would be no way to get it signed into law. As he told one interviewer, if the text were made public negotiators would be walking away from the negotiations because they would be very unpopular.

The new US Trade Representative, Obama’s classmate Michael Froman who worked at CitiGroup, and the more than 600 corporate advisers involved in writing the TPP, have direct access to the text of the treaty, but members of Congress have only limited access and the public and media are excluded. Recent calls for transparency by members of Congress have been denied, so the extent of what we know comes from leaks.

We do know that the TPP is less about trade and more about entrenching corporate property rights. It will establish a judicial system that gives corporations greater power than sovereign nations and bypasses the democratic process. The TPP will affect the global economy so that corporations control all aspects of our lives from wages, food safety, the price of medications and our rights to clean water and air to Internet freedom and more.

Senator Elizabeth Warren wrote the candidate for US Trade Representative, Michael Froman, asking for public transparency of the text. That request has not been granted. After 8 months of negotiations and tremendous public pressure, Representative Alan Grayson was permitted to view some of the TPP documents. His comment: “The TPP is nicknamed ‘NAFTA on steroids.’ Now that I’ve read it, I can see why. I can’t tell you what’s in the agreement, because the U.S. Trade Representative calls it classified. But I can tell you two things about it. 1) There is no national security purpose in keeping this text secret. 2) This agreement hands the sovereignty of our country over to corporate interests. 3) What they can’t afford to tell the American public is that [the rest of this sentence is classified].”

This is the second story about this undercutting of the American people through this so-called trade agreement to appear in the Calendar. The first was several years ago. For the detailed background, go here. To join the fight go here.

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