Trans-Pacific Partnership

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TPP

The text as it appears on the back of the card

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a new international trade pact crafted by multinational corporations and currently being negotiated in secret by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) along with eleven other foreign governments. Over 600 corporate advisors also have access to the text, but the public and civil society are excluded. Little was known about the TPP until a series of leaked documents was published in 2011 by the Citizens Trade Campaign, revealing what many had suspected—that the TPP is not about trade at all, but is rather a corporate power grab that circumvents domestic judicial systems and undermines national sovereignty.

If ratified, the TPP would establish a system of international tribunals allowing corporations to challenge the laws, regulations and even court decisions of any member nation (including local, county and state laws) if they are deemed to adversely impact the corporation’s expected future profits. Under the TPP’s “investor-state” provision, corporations would even be allowed to file preemptive lawsuits against proposed government actions before they are undertaken, preventing, for example, New York or other states and municipalities from passing anti-fracking legislation or enacting consumer protection laws. Judges on these tribunals would consist of corporate lawyers on temporary leave from their regular jobs with multinational corporations, and because of international treaty obligations, their decisions would supersede those of domestic courts, possibly including the U.S. Supreme Court.

Similarly, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), negotiated in the early 1990s, forced governments to overturn many environmental and worker protection policies. NAFTA caused the elimination of hundreds of thousands of U.S. jobs, and millions of Mexican farmers who could no longer compete with heavily subsidized U.S. crops were displaced from their land, setting off a wave of desperate migration northward. The TPP will greatly accelerate this global race to the bottom as it is much larger than NAFTA; its negotiating countries already constitute 40% of the world economy and it contains “docking” provisions allowing other nations to join later.

Provisions in the TPP specifically threaten to:

  • Undermine food safety protections by making it harder for countries to adopt regulations such as labeling laws or banning GMOs.
  • Dismantle the “Buy Local” movement by overturning government laws designed to keep taxpayer dollars in the local economy.
  • Inhibit access to lifesaving medicine by extending monopoly drug patents for big pharmaceuticals.
  • Curtail Internet freedom, spur further financial deregulation, roll back environmental laws and more.

The TPP is being negotiated under unprecedented secrecy because previous attempts to pass similar “free trade” pacts have been met with widespread public opposition. Grassroots movements in the past have successfully stopped the Multilateral Agreement on Investment, the Free Trade Area of the Americas, the expansion of the World Trade Organization, and others. The Obama Administration therefore plans to bring the TPP to a “fast track” vote as early as the Fall of 2013, bypassing congressional review and public debate entirely. Therefore, we must act now, utilizing education, protest and civil disobedience to stop the TPP and build a broad-based movement for future battles.

References & external links:

FlushTheTPP.org
CitizensTrade.org
Public Citizen
Electronic Frontiers Foundation