Trans-Pacific Partnership - how bland and innocent it sounds - but this is neither! This is a secret, secretive negotiation which our governments are keeping quiet about so that we don't know of its existence, and even if we do hear something by accident, we won't be able to ask any questions because we don't know what questions to ask!
Countries involved - at the moment - are: Japan, Brunei, Chile, Canada, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the US, Vietnam and Australia.
If you read all the articles below you will get some idea of what is being planned and how it will affect our lives in the future.
It sounds very grim and if one looks at what has leaked out so far, one can estimate that this is just the tip of a very nasty iceberg. The Titanic iceberg will be nothing compared with this one, and woe will be to us when we gradually understand the impacts being made on so many things we take for granted.
Just one example to frighten the pants off us old people - the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme as we know it will probably vanish altogether and subsidised medicines will be off the agenda and out expenses will be out of proportion to what we get as pensions.
Article from Credo – 19 August 2013
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) has been called “NAFTA on steroids” – and for good reason.
Negotiated behind closed doors by the governments of a dozen countries (including ours) colluding with corporate interests, this secret "trade" deal would eviscerate broad swaths of regulations that protect consumers, workers, the environment and the soundness of our financial system. And it would set up a legal regime where corporate profits trump the policy priorities of sovereign governments.
The first stage in the plan to pass the TPP is a big push for Congress to pass fast-track trade authority, which would short-circuit the typical legislative process when trade deals like the TPP come up for a vote.
Tell Congress: Say NO to fast-track trade authority. Click here to automatically sign the petition.
Fast-track trade authority would allow the president to sign a trade deal before Congress has an opportunity to review or approve it. Then the president could send it to Congress for an up-or-down vote. Fast track would mean there would be no meaningful hearings, limited debate and absolutely no amendments to the deal. And there would be tremendous pressure on Congress to rubberstamp anything the president signs.
It's the job of Congress to fully vet trade deals and ensure they work for everyone, not just giant corporations. In fact the Constitution gives Congress exclusive authority over trade. And it would be a deeply irresponsible abdication of responsibility for Congress to pass fast track when we know the TPP is coming down the pike, especially when we know the consequences of the TPP could be disastrous.
That is why hundreds of groups including National Nurses United, the Sierra Club, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Democracy for America, and Public Citizen have spoken out against fast track.
Under the TPP, developing countries would lose access to lifesaving medicines. Unsafe foods and products could pour into our country while we’re powerless to stop them. Internet freedom would be a joke. Gone would be the days when the United States could regulate coal exports. And the excesses of our crazy intellectual property laws that privilege corporate control over innovation would be both exacerbated and extended internationally.
You might think such a far-reaching proposal would be subject to intense public debate. But the text of the proposed deal is considered classified by our government and even members of Congress have been given extremely limited access to it.
We know the little we do know about the deal because drafts of some of its chapters were leaked last year.
Yet, while the government has kept the public and Congress largely in the dark about the TPP, it has given 600 corporate advisers access to the full text of the proposal.
Pressured by giant corporate interests that stand to make huge amounts of money on the deal, and faced with a public that has purposefully been kept ignorant about this deal, it’s not hard to see how the TPP could be rammed through Congress if fast-track trade authority were in place.
In fact, the reason the corporate lobby is pushing fast track is that they know the TPP could not get through Congress without this extraordinary power grab. So the first thing we need to do to fight back is to ensure Congress does not tie its own hands by passing fast-track trade authority.
Tell Congress: Say NO to fast-track trade authority. Click the link below to automatically sign the petition:
Matt Lockshin, Campaign Manager
CREDO Action from Working Assets
This item comes from the Daily Kos, 21 August 2013:
The giant multinationals are pushing a trade deal that will literally let them bypass our laws. This deal is called the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and it is coming at us in the next few months. The corporations are trying to switch this gravy-train onto the “Fast Track.” For them this deal is the light at the end of the tunnel of democracy and self-government that has been trying to reign them in. We need to get this runaway train back on the rails or We the People will be begging for scraps thrown from the caboose. Call your Senators and Representative today and let them know that people are paying attention and oppose “Fast Track trade authority.”[...]
If TPP passes it will override American law. Again: we will not be able to pass laws that reign in the corporations. We will not be able to protect our jobs and wages because, as we have seen, companies can just close a factory and move your job to a country that pays very little, doesn’t protect the environment, and doesn’t let working people do anything about it. Of course the giant companies want these agreements — they let them tell us that if we ask for decent wages or benefits they will fire us and move our job out of the country.
Anti-TPP protest in Singapore
Right now because of trade agreements already in effect we are not allowed to make laws even putting information like “dolphin safe” on tuna can labels. El Salvador is being sued by a Canadian mining company for trying to require environmental permits, because of a similar trade agreement. This is what these trade agreements mean to our ability to reign in the giant corporations.The giant, multinational corporations and their business groups are hopeful that they can push this through. The Financial Times explains, in Obama’s ‘fast-track’ trade push faces congressional delays:
Corporate lobbyists, who have been pushing for a quick and uncontroversial approval of TPA [Fast Track], say they are still confident the talks will be successful.
“We are seeing signs of good support and momentum for TPA legislation in Congress and from the administration,” said David Thomas, vice-president for trade policy at the Business Roundtable, representing big blue-chip companies.
So here is what is coming— soon. Lobbyists for the giant multinationals have been working behind the scenes to slip Fast Track through their friends in Congress. They will argue that the usual process Congress holding hearings, getting everyone’s viewpoint and hearing everyone’s concerns, then amending as needed and carefully considering the bill before a vote (also known as “representative democracy”) will just get in the way of getting this done. They will want as much of this done behind the scenes because regular people will naturally be upset about our Congress handing over their authority like this.
Trade treaty stance the same, despite promise
Andrew Robb. Photo: Domino Postiglione
Foreign corporations wanting to sue Australian governments will have to cool their heels. New trade minister Andrew Robb says Australia's negotiating position on the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement remains the same despite an election commitment to overturn the blanket prohibition on ''investor-state dispute settlement'' provisions.
The previous government declared point-blank that Australia would never again sign an agreement that included the provisions. One of the few trade agreements Australia has signed with such a clause allowed a Hong Kong-based subsidiary of tobacco giant Philip Morris to take Australia to an international tribunal over its plain-packaging laws, despite having lost its case in the High Court.
It is believed the United States was close to accommodating Australia's insistence by carving out an exemption for Australia while the other 10 signatories were bound by the provisions. Australia is the only country to have successfully concluded a trade deal with the US without such a clause, the US-Australia free trade agreement.
The Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement will be the world's biggest.
US companies are enthusiastic users of the provisions. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development says a record 58 cases were under way last year. In one, a US resource company is suing Canadian province of Quebec for imposing a moratorium on coal seam gas extraction while it examines claims of environmental damage.
Opening Australian governments to lawsuits over resource extraction, foreign land purchases, pharmaceutical benefits and health measures is a potential minefield for the new government.
Its policy is to remain ''open to utilising investor-state dispute settlement clauses as part of Australia's negotiating position''.
In a written statement to Fairfax Media, Mr Robb said it would be ''premature to discuss positions we may wish to pursue on this or any issue under discussion in the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement negotiations''.
''In opposition the Coalition stated that it would consider the inclusion of ISDS provisions in free trade agreements on a case-by-case basis. It would be wrong, however, to assume this changes Australia's current position on ISDS in the context of the Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations.''
Mr Robb will attend trade ministers' talks on the Trans Pacific Partnership on the sidelines of the APEC meeting in Bali next month. Prime Minister Abbott will discuss the partnership at a meeting of leaders including US President Obama in Bali.
Letter in the age 250913
Please say no to thisSeeing that Mr Abbott is on a roll of saying ''no'', I am hoping he will say ''no'' to the very disturbing provisions of the secretive Trans Pacific Partnership.
If Mr Abbott signs up to it, Australia will find not only its Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme threatened, but also its internet freedoms, and multinational corporations overriding state laws. Peter Martin is to be commended for breaking the media silence on this (''Trade treaty stance the same, despite promise'', 23/9).
Noel Wauchope, Caulfield South