Is TPP the post-democracy blue-print for the EU-US Free Trade Agreement? The implications are outlined.
Before Christmas, I was alarmed to hear Nick Clegg and then David Cameron ‘rather too casually’ mention their support for an EU-US Free Trade Agreement (FTA). It now seems that such negotiations have in fact, been going on in secret for over a year.. and secrecy is the name of the game. The posted video clip below, discusses the nature of the massive Trans Pacific Pact or Free Trade Agreement (TPP) which Obama has been pushing for, throughout his first administration (1) There is every reason to believe that these alarming negotiations will be the blue-print for an EU-US FTA, and therefore, could act as a pre-warning for the UK/EU populace.
Since the 10-year-old Doha round of global trade talks deadlocked, the EU and the United States have been trying to sign as many bilateral free-trade deals as they can to lock in (2), to access fast-growing economies, especially in Asia (see Cameron’s smarminess in India). But, according to Reuters, the debt crisis in Europe and elusive American growth are pushing both sides to consider knocking down the final barriers to trade. (3) Together, the bloc and the United States account for about half the world’s economic output and nearly a third of world trade. It is significant that the libertarian US think-tank, Cato asks the question whether some of the concepts contained in the draft EU-US FTA are appropriate for a binding international agreement on free trade ‘or do they turn trade agreements into a kind of global constitution?’ (4)
And that is the major problem with these Free Trade Agreements. They just don’t seem to be very much about trade.
And I have to say ‘seem’ because although 600 corporates have been participating in the negotiations, even members of Congress are not allowed to see either the draft or final negotiated TPP settlements.
Why would that be? Why are the negotiations secret? Lori Wallach in the video clip, says that the US Chair, in a moment of plain speaking, told a Reuters reporter that the NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) was impossible to finalise because there were so many objections when they published the plans. In other words, because the general public and politicians opposed their sovereignty being transferred to the corporates, they’ve decided not to tell them about the TPP!
According to Congressman Denis Kucinich, the leaked information on TPP indicates that it is NAFTA ‘on steroids’. So if countries objected to NAFTA what will we feel about an EU-US FTA?
Furthermore, I would put no money on the European Parliament, let alone Parliament, being allowed access to even see the EU-US FTA negotiations. Neither the MPs or the MEPs were allowed to know the details when the EU signed up to the 1994 GATS treaty (5) and that treaty contained all the seeds of privatizing the NHS, social security and education that we are now seeing implemented by the Tory/LDs, and across the EU. This one would lock us in to even more stringent requirements.
The worrying aspects of the leaked TPP documents concern the outsourcing of jobs, the outlawing of domestic legislation protecting workers, human rights, food safety and the environment. There is a particular focus working against generic medicines, on behalf of the pharmaceutical companies that rank amongst the most profitable US and UK firms – for example patents could be extended ensuring more expensive drug therapies. A version of SOPA could be introduced by the backdoor, limiting internet freedom and internet privacy rights. It would also shield foreign capital from domestic laws, essentially deregulating finance even further, at a point when there are calls for greater not less regulation.
But overarching all of this, is the transfer of sovereignty from nations to private corporate tribunals (6) who will be empowered to compel governments to change their laws or pay unlimited fines. Foreign companies will essentially not be bound by domestic laws.
This begs the question as to how much of the Tory/LD programme and the changes being forced on EZ countries, under the guise of ‘austerity’ were/are, in fact, in preparation for compliance with the proposed EU-US FTA? (7)
Human rights, environmental protection and employment rights could all be contested and overturned by private corporate tribunals. The post-democratic age will have been enshrined in binding legislation… and all of it will be done in secret! (8)
Ordinary people may have won the battle in Seattle in 1999 but globally, we’re losing the war in 2013 and just like the GATS, most of us probably won’t even realise that its happening until too late.
“For all the endless empty chatter about democracy, today, the world is run by three of the most secretive institutions in the world: the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the World Trade Organization. All three of which, in turn, are dominated by the U.S.’
Inside Story Americas – Will the Pacific trade deal protect workers?
Published on Dec 5, 2012
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The 15th round of negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) began in New Zealand this week. Critics say trade is only a small part of what is being discussed. So why is the TPPA so secretive? Guests: Lori Wallach, Celeste Drake.
Dean Baker writes in the Guardian that the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, a pact that the United States is negotiating with Australia, Canada, Japan and eight other countries in the Pacific region) ‘is an effort to use the holy grail of free trade to impose conditions and override domestic laws in a way that would be almost impossible if the proposed measures had to go through the normal legislative process. The expectation is that by lining up powerful corporate interests, the governments will be able to ram this new “free trade” pact through legislatures on a take-it-or-leave-it basis.’
9. Neoclassical Economics ignores perpetual increasing scale.
As a result of perpetual exponential growth, institutions in the system continually get bigger and bigger. We saw this as the economic system made towns, counties, and states irrelevant through the last century, and we are now seeing it as mega banks and corporations are now making national governments irrelevant. People are now living as tiny cogs in a machine of incomprehensible scale. Everything in life has been monetized, so things that don’t generate bank credit get devalued (spirituality, psychology, rest, joy, play, etc).