Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations: Obama Administration and neoliberalism in action

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement now being negotiated by the Obama Administration is shaping up to be another job-destroying, quality-of-life-reducing stinker of a trade treaty for the American people. Corporate executives may make out like bandits, which is pretty much the point of these free trade treaties under the neoliberal doctrines that tend to dominate them.

The seemingly endless stream of corporate-Democratic positions emerging from the White House is a big reason for the notable lack of enthusiasm for Obama right now among his base and Democratic-leaning swing voters a recent public opinion study are documenting. (David Atkins, Changing the narrative Hullabaloo 06/12/2012; Stanley Greenberg et al, Shifting the Economic Narrative Democracy Corps 06/11/2012)

The TPP negotiations include the US, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. The Office of the US Trade Representative's website has the official hype about the TPP, e.g., "The huge and growing markets of the Asia-Pacific already are key destinations for U.S. manufactured goods, agricultural products, and services suppliers."

Zach Carter reports on some newly-leaked TPP documents in Obama Trade Document Leaked, Revealing New Corporate Powers And Broken Campaign Promises 06/13/2012

More from Controversial Trade Pact Text Leaked, Shows U.S. Trade Officials Have Agreed to Terms That Undermine Obama Domestic Agenda Public Citizen 06/13/2012

The new information collaborates the general picture described by Lori Wallach in A Stealth Attack on Democratic Governance The American Prospect 03/13/2012:

Under the framework now being negotiated, U.S. states and the federal government would be obliged to bring our existing and future policies into compliance with expansive norms set forth in 26 proposed TPP chapters. These include domestic policy on financial, health-care, energy, telecommunications, and other service-sector regulation; patents and copyrights; food and product standards; land use and natural resources; professional licensing and immigration; and government procurement.

The obligation that signatory countries "ensure conformity of their laws, regulations and administrative procedures" to these terms would be strongly enforced, including by our own government. Failure to do so would subject the U.S. to lawsuits before dispute-resolution tribunals empowered to authorize trade sanctions against the U.S. until our policies are changed. Attacks against our non-trade laws could also be launched by any 'investor' that happens to be incorporated in one of these countries. The TPP is being designed so that other nations — China, Japan, you name it — could join in the future.
The goal of such procedures is to create a lowest-common-denominator standard for the actions of multinational corporations that would give them authority to override national laws and regulations in the areas covered by the treaty. And treaties approved by the Senate have the same force as the US Constitution, i.e., the "law of the land".

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