The White House wants to fast track the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) “free trade” agreement with Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam. Japan is waiting in the wings, Canada and Mexico want in, Taiwan has announced its intention to meet membership requirements and China says it will “earnestly study” whether to seek entry into the agreement.
Basically, the TPP is NAFTA on steroids. The White House wants to reach a deal prior to the election because they know all the apparatchiks feeding on the $1 billion in Obama campaign money flowing through the system will launch tribalistic attacks on anyone organizing against it (activists, labor unions, workers) for “helping Mitt Romney win” — thus facilitating its easy passage.
Under TPP, foreign corporations would receive:
- Compensation for loss of “expected future profits” if local health, labor or environmental laws limited their ability to do business
- Rights to acquire land, natural resources and factories without government review
- Risks and costs of offshoring to low wage countries eliminated
- Special guaranteed “minimum standard of treatment” for relocating firms
- Right to move capital without limits
- New rights covering a vast definition of investment: intellectual property, permits, derivatives
- A ban performance requirements and domestic content rules (no “made in the USA,” “buy local” or “green jobs”). An absolute ban, not only when applied to investors from signatory countries
- Ability to extend drug patents and limit production of generic medicines that are used for global health programs
- Rollback of regulations that were put in place to prevent another global economic crisis such as “too big to fail” remedies
According to Public Citizen, TPP undermines banking laws, incorporates SOPA and limits the ability of state and local government to protect the environment — otherwise US taxpayers have to pay damages, and US courts have no authority:
Under [TPP] foreign investors can skirt domestic courts and laws, and sue governments directly before tribunals of three private sector lawyers operating under World Bank and UN rules to demand taxpayer compensation for any domestic law that investors believe will diminish their “expected future profits.” Over $675 million has been paid to foreign investors under U.S. trade pacts, while over $12 billion in claims are pending on environmental, safety, and public health policies under U.S. trade deals.
Public Citizen’s map (above) shows the foreign corporations from Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru and Singapore in your area that would be shielded from local environmental, zoning and regulatory laws and operate beyond the reach of US courts. Most browsers cannot display a map that includes the 7,000 corporate affiliates of Japan-based corporations in the United States, so Public Citizen compiled a PDF of the map that includes Japan-based corporations that you can download here.
Over 600 corporate advisors have access to the text of the TPP, while members of Congress, journalists and the voting public are excluded.
The 12th round of talks begin on May 8 in Dallas, which is US Trade Representative Ron Kirk’s home town.
At an April 4 press conference in the Rose Garden, President Obama said that TPP “could be a real model for the world.” Earlier this month the US limited the ability of public interest groups to have input into the process. So much for the “most transparent administration ever.”