A critical view of the TPP

Trade agreement that upsets

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a regional free-trade agreement between the United States and some pacific countries. It threatens local economies self-determination over big corporations and any hope of a green trade deal that could ultimately do more to reduce carbon emissions. Critics have described the TPP as NAFTA on steriods (stoptpp.org) because of its focus on giving legal power to multinational corporations over nation states and their citizens. The proposed TPP is now, however, running into difficulties as the public learns more about it.

What is TPP?
TPP is a proposed regional free-trade agreement that as of 2014 includes twelve countries throughout the Asia-Pacific region (see map below). These countries combined represents an economic power of more than 40% of the worlds GDP, making the TPP the largest economic trade agreement to date. The agreement started with discussions in 2005 and should have finished by 2012 but was delayed because of major controversies and outrage due to leakages of secret documents around Intellectual Property and Environment Chapters in the proposed agreement by WikiLeaksThe push for this kind of an trade agreement probably started as a alternative way to WTO negotiations after 12 years of stagnation, partly due to well-organized public resistance in many countries. At the moment U.S. corporate interests are driving the agenda of the TPP (The Guardian).  It is according to many commentators no coincidence that leftist Latin American governments and China has been left out of the agreement.

There has been extremely little transparency regarding the TPP negotiations. Few people have had access to the draft agreement and outermost secrecy has been in place. Large corporations and lobbyists, however, have been able to see chapters of the document. Thus when WikiLeaks first revealed parts of the TPP draft in November of 2013 many people and citizens rights groups got very upset. One part of the TPP which consist of giving corporations the right to directly sue governments for regulations that infringe upon profits or potential profits may explain why the TPP negotiators tried to hide the details from public awareness (Guardian, 2013). Because they knew it would evoke strong opposition, given the value people place in national sovereignty. Other parts of the draft, which have been leaked, includes:

Intellectual Property (IP) Chapter
The IP Chapter covers topics from pharmaceuticals, patent registrations and copyright issues to digital rights. Experts say it will affect freedom of information, civil liberties and access to medicines globally. The latest 77-page document is a working draft from the negotiations in Vietnam, dated 16 May 2014. The IP chapter of TPP would, if signed, effectively let corporations monitor citizens online activities, cut off peoples Internet access, delete content, impose fines and pursue stronger criminal regulations related to online copyright (ComputerWorld). It would end up instituting very controversial laws such as SOPA and PIPA that would restrict internet freedoms and free speech to the benefit of corporations. Overly protective patent laws on medicines and biological seeds etc. would also increase health care costs and farming practices and thus have a major impact on public health and food security, especially in poorer nations. 

Environment Chapter 
The environmental chapter in the TPP does not require nations to follow legally binding environmental provisions or other global environmental treaties. Pollution controls could vary depending on a country's domestic circumstances and capabilities. The chapter shows how trade above all is promoted, beyond environmental goals and values, basically stating that local environmental laws are not to obstruct trade or investment between member countries. Furthermore there is an emphasis on ...flexible, voluntary mechanisms, such as voluntary auditing and reporting, market-based incentives, voluntary sharing of information and expertise and public-private partnership”, but that even such measures should be designed in a manner that “...avoids the creation of unnecessary barriers to trade” (WikiLeaks). At a time of worldwide environmental challenges (including species die-offs, dangerous pollution of the oceans and climate change) people would expect that trade could be a tool to protect the planet, not hasten ecological collapse. 

According to Noam Chomsky, the MIT professor, the TPP is not about "free trade" at all. He says “These are extreme, highly protectionist measures designed to undermine freedom of trade. In fact, much of what’s leaked about the TPP indicates that it’s not about trade at all, it’s about investor rights” (Huffington Post). Simply put, this proposed agreement protects corporations over citizens and profits over the environment. If signed, this agreement could further exacerbate economic inequalities and environmental degradation in many nations.


Out of the ashes into the fire

0 kommentarer: