As the second day of the secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations go on in Salt Lake City between 12 countries, protest continues:
Touted as a free trade agreement, rights groups have called it “NAFTA on Steroids” (and they don’t mean that in a positive way).
Mark Weisbrot, writing a column for the Guardian, argued that “the TPP and its promoters are full to the brim with ironies. It is quite amazing that a treaty like the TPP can still be promoted as a “free trade” agreement when its most economically important provisions are the exact opposite of “free trade” – the expansion of protectionism.”
According to Lori Wallach, writing for the Nation, TPP negotiations were originally begun under President Bush in 2008, then were initially paused by the Obama Administration “to develop a new approach compatible with candidate Obama’s pledges to replace the old NAFTA-based trade model,” but by 2009 were back on track. As a result, over the last few years “US negotiators have proposed new rights for Big Pharma and pushed into the text aspects of the Stop Online Piracy Act, which would limit Internet freedom, despite the derailing of SOPA in Congress earlier this year thanks to public activism.”
Unfortunately the majority of these talks have been entirely private, along with the documents being discussed. “The United States Trade Representative and the Obama administration have kept the treaty texts secret from the public,” political science professor at George Washington University Susan Sell told the Washington Post. “However, they have shared texts with 700 or so “cleared advisers,” all of whom come from intellectual property rights holders’ industries.” In contrast, only select members of Congress have viewed the texts, with large sections redacted. It is international economic policy being written by industry, for industry.
What has been seen publicly is largely in thanks to Wikileaks. The extent to which provisions in the TPP will circumvent congressional authority and curb civil liberties of various kinds––almost all entirely unrelated to “free trade”––is astounding. Hopefully public outrage will stall the implementation of this disastrous policy before it wreaks worldwide havoc.