TPP is NAFTA on steroids

SOURCE: Brad Parsons (
SUBHEAD: Nations would be held to much stricter and more extremes intellectual property rights... like on GMOs.

By Henry Curtis on 23 November 2013 for Ililani Media -

Image above: Demonstration against the TPP agreement. From article below.

Secret negotiations are occurring among Asian and American political and corporate elites that could increase the gap between the powerful and the rest of society. The
Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is the latest in a series of treaties to make the world more profitable for multinational corporations.

Back in 1974 Congress limited their own power by enacting legislation which stated that they could approve or disapprove trade treaties negotiated by the President, BUT they could not amend them or delay the process with a filibuster.

In 2007 Congress ended the Fast Track Negotiating Authority or trade Promotion authority(TPA) process.

President Obama wants Congress to reauthorize the TPA for both the current Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations and the future United States-European Community Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

TPP talks involve trade negotiations between twelve countries: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Peru, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore, Vietnam, and the United States.

The TPP is being pushed by multinational special interests meeting in secret. Multinational CEOs get to see documents and mix with politicians, the public does not.

On November 12, 2013 twenty-two House Republicans announced their opposition to giving the president Fast Track Trade Promotion Authority for approving the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The next day 151 House Democrats including Hawaii Representatives Tulsi Gabbard and Colleen Hanabusa also sent a letter to President Obama announcing that they too opposed fast track authority.

On November 13, 2013 WikiLeaks released one chapter of the secret TPP negotiations and also the positions of each of the 12 negotiating nations. The Chapter focuses on internet services, civil liberties, medicines, publishers and biological patents.

An analysis of positions reveals that the U.S. and its allies Japan and Australia are taking extreme hard-line positions.

The TPP negotiations have resumed in Salt Lake City, Utah. The governments of the countries involved in the negotiations are not able to view the text while it is being discussed by the multinational corporations and their corporate lawyers, meaning that the public has little to no input on what will be included in the final version.

November 21, 2013 the Fair Deal Coalition sent an open-letter to all participants, noting that “the TPP is one of the most far-reaching international free trade agreements in history. We know from leaked TPP draft texts that participating nations would be held to much stricter and more extreme copyright laws than now exist under current national laws. These new rules would criminalize much online activity, invade citizens’ privacy, and significantly impact our ability to share and collaborate online.”

The Fair Deal Coalition favors greater access to knowledge, innovation, and economic opportunity, respect for fundamental rights like due process, privacy, and free speech and recognizing the realities and opportunities of the Internet. (

The TPP Welcoming Committee, a broad coalition of consumer, environmental and labor groups, will be demonstrating behind police barriers.

A few years ago Trans-Pacific Partnership Negotiators met in Hawaii as part of the 2011 Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings.

At that time I interviewed a number of Hawaii State Legislators. None of them had any inkling of what was being discussed in the TPP negotiations, but the general consensus was that we should trust our political leaders.

As a member of Congress, Neil Abercrombie strongly opposed free trade agreements. As Governor he did a 180º turn.

Governor Abercrombie held a press conference at the Hawai`i Convention Center on November 7, 2011, the first day of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings. He stressed high tech, the military, astronomy, and the politically connected. He concluded by saying that everything is rosy and to ignore those who say otherwise. He did not mention labor, workers, or the general public.

I asked the Governor: “Are there any downsides to APEC?” and he replied “Not for us.” He noted that “There are a whole lot of people, I'm sorry to say, [with] a vested emotional interest in always seeing us on the losing side.”

He then went over to the HECO booth. “Have you talked to the Chinese about money?” Abercrombie asked, and seeing perplexed faces, he added “They have money.” He then left to talk to others.

An alternative view was presented by Reverend Samuel Lawrence Domingo, Pastor of Keolumana United Methodist Church, and President of Faith Action for Community Equity (FACE Oahu).
We welcome all of the delegates to APEC 

with Aloha. However we cannot keep silent about the subject of the talks that world leaders are engaging in while they are here. APEC is the Pacific version of an emerging system of supra-national governance – economic globalization - that is eroding the basis of national identity and sovereignty. Free Trade Agreements subject the laws that cities, states, provinces, and even nations make to an unelected set of international financiers. These finance capitalists from Goldman Sachs to Singapore’s Sovereign Wealth Fund are gathering in Hawaii next week and making plans that could, if passed without changes, restrict our ability to govern ourselves. This is an area of grave concern for churches, temples and other institutions of civil society.

When billionaire candidate Ross Perot ran for office he predicted that after passage of NAFTA, we’d hear a giant sucking sound of jobs leaving the country — and 20 years later there are 2 million less American manufacturing jobs thanks mostly to NAFTA, GATT, and their successor agreements. The net effect of these agreements has been to create a worldwide race to the bottom, so that investors move factories to the countries with the least restrictions on child or slave labor, the least environmental and safety standards. Meanwhile the terms of the trade deal forces us to accept these goods as if they were made in our own country.…

The effect of the economic globalization represented by APEC is to flatten the difference between nations and cultures. It disintegrates values, customs and beliefs that are local. In Hawai’i we highly value the sense of local; it is a word charged with meaning for us. And we’ve all watched over the years as that sense of local identity has weakened. Liberty House becomes Macy’s, Hyatt becomes Goldman Sachs, the Wisteria disappears, and Honolulu gets another Cheesecake Factory. When an international hedge fund buys Turtle Bay, they ban the shaka and try to close the beaches to local people
Lauren Ballesteros of UNITE HERE! Local 5 noted that the Trans-Pacific Partnership is like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) on steroids. As a result of NAFTA, almost one in four American manufacturing jobs were outsourced.

The flip side of this statement was made by business leaders at the APEC CEO Summit and the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) meeting.

Tony Nowell, Chairman of the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) Regional Economic Integration Working Group asserted that labor should be moved across countries with temporary work visas.
"What we find as business people as we cross boarders and move around economies, one of the greatest impediments to effective trade and to efficient business is that we are dealing with different regulations in almost every economy that we move into. We’re not asking for every regulation to be the same.

We are asking for …the issue of what we call labor mobility.

As economies grow they don’t all grow at the same rate, and of course you have labor at times, which is in surplus in one economy, and a deficit in another economy, and there needs to be the opportunity for labor mobility across the region, so that the labor can go to where the demand is. Too often this comes up against a roadblock because our officials immediately see this as an immigration issue. It is not an immigration issue. This is about the temporary flow of labor that is a key focus for us

Native Rights
Free prior and informed consent (FPIC) and indigenous rights have come under attack during negotiations and in implementation of several free trade agreements. To multinationals, indigenous rights are trade barriers and need to be struck down at the international level.

Mexico, Canada and the United States negotiated the terms of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). As a precondition for Mexico to enter NAFTA, the Mexican government was forced to amend its national constitution. The key provision that had to be amended dealt with the rights of outsiders to buy communal native lands and kick natives off the land for illegally occupying their own land.

NAFTA was ratified in 1994. Following an uprising by the Zapatistas, the Mexican Government signed the
San Andrés Accords which in theory granted autonomy, recognition, and rights to the indigenous population of Mexico. However what is on paper has largely been ignored.

TPP and Monsanto
SUBHEAD: There appears not to be a specific agricultural chapter in the TPP. Instead, rules affecting food systems and food safety are woven throughout the text.

By Barbara Chicherio on 24 June 2013 for Nation of Change -

Something is looming in the shadows that could help erode our basic rights and contaminate our food. The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) has the potential to become the biggest regional Free Trade Agreement in history, both in economic size and the ability to quietly add more countries in addition to those originally included. As of 2011 its 11 countries accounted for 30 percent of the world’s agricultural exports. Those countries are the US, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Canada, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Viet Nam. Recently, Japan has joined the negotiations.

Six hundred US corporate advisors have had input into the TPP. The draft text has not been made available to the public, press or policy makers. The level of secrecy around this agreement is unparalleled. The majority of Congress is being kept in the dark while representatives of US corporations are being consulted and privy to the details.

The chief agricultural negotiator for the US is the former Monsanto lobbyist, Islam Siddique. If ratified the TPP would impose punishing regulations that give multinational corporations unprecedented right to demand taxpayer compensation for policies that corporations deem a barrier to their profits.
There appears not to be a specific agricultural chapter in the TPP. Instead, rules affecting food systems and food safety are woven throughout the text. This agreement is attempting to establish corporations’ rights to skirt domestic courts and laws and sue governments directly with taxpayers paying compensation and fines directly from the treasury.

Though TPP content remains hidden, here are some things we do know:
  • Members of Congress are concerned that the TPP would open the door to imports without resolving questions around food safety or environmental impacts on its production.
  • Procurement rules specifically forbid discrimination based on the quality of production.  This means that public programs that favor the use of sustainably produced local foods in school lunch programs could be prohibited.
  • The labeling of foods containing GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) will not be allowed.  Japan currently has labeling laws for GMOs in food.  Under the TPP Japan would no longer be able to label GMOs.  This situation is the same for New Zealand and Australia.  In the US we are just beginning to see some progress towards labeling GMOs.  Under the TPP GMO labels for US food would not be allowed.
  • In April 2013, Peru placed a 10-year moratorium on GMO foods and plants.  This prohibits the import, production and use of GMOs in foods and GMO plants and is aimed at safeguarding Peru’s agricultural diversity.  The hope is to prevent cross-pollination with non-GMO crops and to ban GMO crops like Bt corn.  What will become of Peru’s moratorium if the TPP is passed?
  • There is a growing resistance to Monsanto’s agricultural plans in Vietnam.  Monsanto (the US corporation controlling an estimated 90% of the world seed genetics) has a dark history with Vietnam.  Many believe that Monsanto has no right to do business in a country where Monsanto’s product Agent Orange is estimated to have killed 400,000 Vietnamese, deformed another 500,000 and stricken another 2 million with various diseases.
Legacies of other trade agreements that serve as a warning about the TPP have a history of displacing small farmers and destroying local food economies. Ten years following the passage of NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) 1.5 million Mexican farmers became bankrupt because they could not compete with the highly subsidized US corn entering the Mexican market.

In the same 10 years Mexico went from a country virtually producing all of its own corn to a country that now imports at least half of this food staple. Mexican consumers are now paying higher prices for Monsanto’s GMO corn.

With little or no competition for large corporations Monsanto, DuPont and Syngenta now control 57 percent of the commercial food market.

While the TPP is in many ways like NAFTA and other existing trade agreements, it appears that the corporations have learned from previous experience. They are carefully crafting the TPP to insure that citizens of the involved countries have no control over food safety, what they will be eating, where it is grown, the conditions under which food is grown and the use of herbicides and pesticides.

If the TPP is adopted the door will be open wider for human rights and environmental abuse. Some of the things we should expect to see include:
  • more large scale farming and more monocultures;
  • destruction of local economies;
  • no input into how our food is grown or what we will be eating;
  • more deforestation;
  • increased use of herbicides and pesticides;
  • increased patenting of life forms;
  • more GMO plants and foods; and
  • no labeling of GMOs in food.
Together these are a step backwards for human rights and a giant step towards Monsanto’s control of our food.

Please pass the word to others about the TPP as most Americans are unaware of this trade agreement or its ominous effects if passed.

See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: Obama's Third World USA 5/18/13


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