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The details are out on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and critics say the trade deal is worse than they feared. The TPP’s full text was released Thursday, weeks after the United States and 11 other Pacific Rim nations—a group representing 40 percent of the world’s economy—reached an agreement. Activists around the world have opposed the TPP, warning it will benefit corporations at the expense of health, the environment, free speech and labor rights. Congress now has 90 days to review the TPP before President Obama can ask for an up-or-down vote. We are joined by Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch and a leading TPP critic.
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: One of the biggest and most secretive trade deals in history has finally been revealed in full—and critics say it’s even worse than they thought. On Thursday, the complete text of the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership was released after years of closely guarded talks. The TPP was agreed to last month between the United States and 11 other Pacific Rim nations. The group represents 40 percent of the world’s economy. It will set common standards in areas including employment, food safety, the Internet, corporate governance and intellectual property. It also establishes new tribunals under which corporations can sue governments for laws that affect their profits. The legal mechanism is called the investor-state dispute settlement, or ISDS. Activists around the world have opposed the TPP, warning it will benefit corporations at the expense of public health, the environment, free speech and labor rights.
AMY GOODMAN: With the fine print now disclosed, the TPP’s opponents say their worst fears have been confirmed. In a statement, Public Citizen said, quote, “The text shows that the TPP would offshore more American jobs, lower our wages, flood us with unsafe imported food and expose our laws to attack in foreign tribunals“.
On Thursday, the White House notified Congress it intends to ratify the TPP, starting a 90-day review period before President Obama can seek final approval. The Senate has granted Obama the authority to fast-track the TPP and present it to Congress for a yes-or-no vote with no amendments allowed. Lawmakers will face heavy lobbying from wealthy TPP backers, but grassroots opposition could play a role, too. In one sign that public opinion could be influencing the political class, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton came out against the TPP last month. It was a major reversal for Clinton, who helped push the TPP during her time as secretary of state. Clinton’s rival candidate, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, has long opposed the TPP.
For more, we’re joined by Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, leading TPP critic.
Welcome to Democracy Now! So the TPP is out. What’s in the fine print? Lori, what surprised you most? What are you most concerned about?
LORI WALLACH: Well, it was worse than we expected, and we knew quite a bit, based on leaks and on admissions from negotiators, mainly from other countries. There are a couple of places where I was shocked to see that actually the TPP actually rolls back what was extremely modest progress, that congressional Democrats had forced on President Bush for his last set of agreements—three specific things.
One, in the area of access to affordable medicines, the TPP’s rules on patents, actually both for developing countries but also for us, would roll back that initial reform and make medicine more expensive in pretty dramatic ways.
Number two, the investor-state dispute resolution system is actually expanded out, in ways we should discuss, so that more kinds of laws can be attacked, and many more companies will be able to attack U.S. laws.
And then the third thing that was kind of a shocker is there is an expansion of the kind of attacks you can have on food safety, on imported food safety, which is really serious, because Malaysia and Vietnam, two of the TPP countries, are amongst the major importers of seafood and shrimp—a lot of their stuff gets stopped now for being unsafe—but this agreement would give them new rights to basically attack our stopping their stuff for food safety purposes and flood us with unsafe imports.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Lori, on that food safety issue, what’s the potential effect on the United States, which obviously has a long-term and pretty well-developed food safety system?
LORI WALLACH: Well, I think it’s very telling that yesterday the agribusiness industry was the only major industry that was extremely enthusiastic when the text came out. And they said, “Wow, we got these great ways to stop these food safety attacks on our imports!” Well, they’re thinking of trying to jam our GMO foods into other countries. But what’s good for the goose is good for the gander, which means the same rules could mean that imports, particularly of—I don’t know how to put this, because people are probably having breakfast, but in Vietnam particularly, there’s a huge issue of farmed shrimp being farmed in pools that, among other things, are fertilized with human poop—can’t put it another way—and then lots of antibiotics are poured into the ponds before the harvest to deal with the diseases that come from the human waste. So we’ve got some really unsafe products. Right now we only inspect a small percentage. But we over-inspect for countries like Vietnam because we know there are big problems. One of the new rules I was surprised to see is you can challenge the inspection, both the way you sample, how you decide to pick out a particular country because they have problems, but also you have limits on how you can do testing, how long you can hold the product. I mean, practically, what does it mean? The TPP could mean poisonous food, that you can’t label from what country it comes from, on your kids’ plates. It could mean major public health issues.
AMY GOODMAN: www.WhiteHouse.gov has a list of people and organizations, who support the TPP. One example is the World Wildlife Fund, which is quoted as saying, “No major trade agreement before this one has gone so far to address growing pressures on natural resources like overexploited fish, wildlife and forests.” Another supporter is the National Small Business Association, which is quoted as saying, “The TPP appears to be a positive step for small firms, particularly the inclusion of a chapter dedicated solely to small- and medium-sized enterprises.” And the Council on Foreign Relations is quoted as saying, “The TPP deal has the potential to reshape an important part of the U.S. economy, strengthen American diplomacy, and launch a new generation of international economic cooperation.” What say you, Lori Wallach?
LORI WALLACH: Well, World Wildlife Fund is out there pretty much by themselves, with a couple of other conservation groups. The big news yesterday was the NRDC, one of the country’s biggest environmental groups—and an environmental group that supported NAFTA—came out against TPP, joining the Sierra Club, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, etc., etc. There are some conservation groups that look at animal issues, who aren’t as familiar with trade agreements, who the White House has persuaded that this one provision about shark finning or this provision that says, “Let’s be nice to animals,” in the TPP is good for their agenda. The problem is, all of those kinds of policies that a country might adopt can then be attacked under the investor-state system, and this is an agreement that, for advocates like 350.org who are fighting climate change, as is the Sierra Club and the others, is catastrophic in that it would require us—it would basically reverse our current policies that allow us to stop the export of natural gas, liquid natural gas, so that we would basically be exporting a lot of carbon-based fuels against a sustainable, non-carbon future economy, and we would lose a lot of the energy and other policy tools we need to combat the climate crisis. So if you’re working just on a particular species, you may think—you may have been sold this is a great deal, and you don’t know the net effect.
The vast majority of environmental groups are leading the campaign against the TPP, because, just as an example, one of the other shocking things in the agreement is George Bush’s trade agreements—they were bad. They had agreements enforcing seven specific multilateral environmental agreements, so that actually those were the environmental standards that were to be enforced by all of the countries. They had to adopt and maintain and enforce those standards in their laws. Here is this new agreement, and it wipes out six of the seven agreements. There’s only one agreement that’s enforceable anymore. So there are no standards in the environmental standards part of the standards in the chapter on environment.
So, with these groups on the foreign policy front, this is—you have sort of expected. The Council on Foreign Relations is a cheerleader for all of these agreements. They’re going to make this argument that somehow this will help our—this will help us contain China. It’s sort of a strange argument. It’s unclear what the good strategy for that is. That’s the usual argument you hear, when actually the argument about jobs fails. The bottom line with TPP, which we knew before, is it will make it easier to offshore American jobs, and it will push down our wages by putting Americans into competition with folks in Vietnam who make less than 65 cents an hour. We knew that before. Now we know all this additional bad stuff.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Lori, I wanted to ask you—some groups came out against the agreement that you don’t usually associate with trade deals, like Doctors Without Borders and Human Rights Watch. Could you talk about their concerns?
LORI WALLACH: Yes. So, Doctors Without Borders, which basically, as everyone knows, is a major humanitarian group, is extremely concerned about what would happen with medicine prices. And this gets to the language I had mentioned, where I was shocked to see rollbacks of previous reforms that the Bush administration had made. So Big PhRMA got a lot of goodies in this agreement. In a “free trade” agreement, we see new monopoly protections for Big PhRMA. And so, Doctors Without Borders is basically pointing out that in a whole smorgasbord of policies, where Big PhRMA was trying to use the TPP, the “good name of free trade,” to put into place a bunch of new protections and privileges to raise medicine prices, they got their way. And the two biggest ones are—which is shocking rollbacks from the old U.S. trade standard, which was bad—is all the developing countries in TPP, including countries that are really poor, like Vietnam, ultimately have to have the same extreme patent standards, extreme exclusivities, that will just price people out of medicines. I mean, it will translate to people dying.
AMY GOODMAN: Lori, let’s go to the MSF, the Doctors Without Borders video. This is a part of it.
DOCTORS WITHOUT BORDERS VIDEO: The TPP is slated to become the most harmful trade agreement ever for access to medicines. The TPP could impose new rules that will extend monopoly protection for medicines, keeping prices sky high for longer and blocking generic drugs from entering the market. For example, one rule would allow patents to be extended beyond 20 years. This means that patients will have to wait longer for access to affordable medicines. And this wait is potentially indefinite, because another TPP rule would allow new 20-year patents to be granted for modifications of existing drugs, for a new dosage, for new formulations, even when there is no real improvement in efficacy for patients, so people must wait longer for affordable, generic medicines to become available. The TPP would also require surgical methods to be patentable—for example, how a doctor operates on a patient.
AMY GOODMAN: That’s what Doctors Without Borders said. This is U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman on the impact of the TPP on research and access to life-saving drugs.
MICHAEL FROMAN: On biologics, as you know, this is one of the most challenging issues in the negotiation. We have worked cooperatively with all of our TPP parties—partners to secure a strong and balanced outcome, that both incentivizes the development of these new life-saving drugs while ensuring access to these pioneering medicines and their availability. And this is the first trade agreement in history to ensure a minimum period of protection for biologics. And doing so will help set a regional model and will create an environment in which, through comparable treatment, there will be an effective period of protection to encourage both innovation and access.
AMY GOODMAN: That’s the U.S. trade representative, Michael Froman. Lori Wallach, your comment on both clips?
LORI WALLACH: Well, now we’ve seen the text. The American public can look at it. And Doctors Without Borders is right. And the U.S. trade representative is trying to defend an indefensible industry position that the administration has put into this agreement. I mean, the bottom line is, most of the countries involved have no exclusivity for those kinds of cutting-edge drugs, which are a lot of the cutting-edge cancer cures—biologics—and now they will have five years, at a minimum. The industry says they got eight years. There will be enormous pressure to have more monopolies. And just think about the theory of this: a “free trade” agreement that stops competition. It stops the competition of generics that bring down prices. That is actually what’s in the text, whatever the U.S. officials are saying. We can read it now.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, Lori, where do we go from here? Obviously, there will soon be a 90-day period for Congress to vote on the fast-tracking of this bill. The protests are already being called for in Washington, D.C. And the president, whose presidency was largely crippled by the Republicans in Congress for the past seven years, will now depend on the Republican majority to get the votes necessary to pass this.
LORI WALLACH: So yesterday the president gave official notice of intent to enter the agreement. That starts the first 90-day clock. So, ostensibly, by the first week of February, the TPP could be signed.
Then the next question, though, and the most important thing for all of us to think about, is it only becomes reality if Congress approves it. Now, we are behind the eight ball because we’ve got fast track, so no amendments, etc. However, by five votes only did fast track pass. That means if five members of Congress, looking at that text and knowing it’s not what they were promised—that it would offshore more American jobs, it would push down our wages, it would flood us with unsafe food and raise medicine prices—if we have five members in the House of Representatives who say, “Oh, no, that is not what I signed up for,” that’s the end of TPP. So our mission, basically, is knowing there will be a huge push for a vote early in the spring and that this very day the White House has fanned out across the country with Cabinet secretaries. They’re up on the Hill trying to break arms, get members of Congress to say, “Oh, I’ll be for this thing.” We need to do the same thing on behalf of the public, on behalf of the jobs, wages, environment, food safety that our families rely on. And we can get our members of Congress—we only need to move five—to vote no. That’s the end of the TPP.
And we can do this, and we have brothers and sisters in the other TPP countries, who are doing the same thing. Together, our goose is not cooked. We can still make sure the TPP bad future is not ours. But we’re going to have to talk to our members of Congress, and we need to start now. And next week is a congressional recess. So members of Congress will be back in the district. Look on their websites. They frequently have open houses. You can just go. They work for you. And if there isn’t an open house, you call and make an appointment. It is really simple. Go to TradeWatch.org, has all the materials, information from way-into-the-weeds analysis. There is an analysis team that has put together chapter-by-chapter, yesterday, the bullets you need to know on each of these details, but also how to do a congressional meeting. Grab a couple of your friends and your family; go tell your member of Congress you need that commitment. We can stop this.
AMY GOODMAN: Lori Wallach, I want to thank you for being with us, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, author of The Rise and Fall of Fast Track Trade Authority.
This is Democracy Now! When we come back, immigration in this country. Stay with us.
– April 27, 2015 Posted in: Breaking Issues
Over 2,000 Organizations Call on Congress to Oppose Fast Track Authority for the TPP
Unprecedented Unity Against Bill to Railroad into Place a TPP Replicating Failed Terms of Past Trade Pacts that Offshored Jobs, Lowered Wages and Exposed Consumer and Environmental Safeguards to Attack
WASHINGTON, D.C. — An unprecedentedly united movement of labor, environmental, family farm, consumer, faith, Internet freedom and other organizations escalated their campaign to defeat Fast Track trade authority for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) on April 27, 2015 with a joint 2,008-group letter urging Congress to oppose it.
As the TPP text leaks revealed that the pact replicates and expands on the most damaging provisions of past U.S. trade pacts, thousands of organizations nationwide have educated their members about the TPP’s threats to American jobs and wages, food safety, affordable medicines, the environment, financial stability and more. The pact also replicates the labor and environmental framework first established in George W. Bush’s final trade agreements, which recent U.S. government reports reveal has proved ineffective. These facts have generated wide opposition to the agreement and undermined the White House effort to characterize it as “progressive”.
“Fast Track is rigged to give special rights to corporations at the expense of workers and consumers”, said Lee Saunders, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. “We’ve seen this before and it has led to massive job loss. We cannot get better trade agreements until we get our priorities straight.”
“While we are not currently permitted to see the terms of the new trade deal, what we do know is the Fast Track process enables trade deals that hurt everyday Americans and stack the deck in favor of corporations,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers. “It limits public and congressional oversight and does not allow effective enforcement. We need trade policy that strengthens our country — ensuring the rights of workers, and protecting consumers and the environment. We need a democratic and transparent trade process that offers a fair shake for American workers. Fast Track fails these standards and should be rejected.”
The Fast Track legislation would allow the president to sign and enter into the TPP before Congress approves its contents with a guarantee that the done deal would then be voted on within 90 days after it is submitted with ordinary congressional review, amendment and debate procedures forbidden. If enacted, the legislation would also allow whomever may be president in the next six years to unilaterally select trade partners, launch new negotiation, set the terms and sign and enter into any and all agreements before Congress approves pacts’ contents or trade partners and then railroad such future deals through Congress.
“President Obama may believe the TPP is good for America, even if from what we have seen of the text we strongly disagree, but who knows who will be president next, and if Congress approves this Fast Track bill that unknown president would get unacceptable powers to unilaterally dictate trade policies that are do or die for American jobs and wages and the consumer and environmental safeguards on which all of our families rely”, said Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch.
Tabacco: Democrat or NOT, Obama is NOT THAT STUPID – “President Obama may believe the TPP is good for America”!
I wouldn’t ‘trust’ my own mother with FastTrack Authority to pass Trade Bills like TPP; and I certainly would never ‘trust’ ANY U.S. President in the 21st century – that includes Barack Obama! Black has nothing to do with Trust! Tabacco is Black! I don’t ask my Readers to ‘trust me’ – I PUBLISH MY SOURCES SO YOU DON’T HAVE TO ‘TRUST’ ME!
Well, what do you know! Ron Reagan was quoting Damon Runyon!
Obama, like both Bush presidents, like Trump, like Hillary, like Jeb Bush, like Ben Carson, like Carly Fiorina etc. etc. all want to be president, if they haven’t achieved the Throne already, to find that Pot of Gold in the Oval Office.
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, DC!
This is Obama’s Niche to GET RICH QUICK! As I stated previously, Smart Politicians confuse the Issues by intermingling some Good Acts with their Bad! Read:
ERIC HOLDER, Former Attorney General Under President Obama, Is A Perfect Example Of A PREMEDITATED ‘Black/White’ Politician! This Is Not A Veiled Reference To Skin Color. ‘Black/White’ Refers To Politicos, Who Do Some Good/Noble Acts To Camouflage Their Evils Done To Protect/Promote Their Vested Interests. All Smart Politicians Do This! President Obama, Andrew Cuomo, Chris Christy, Michael Bloomberg All Fit The Premeditated ‘Black/White’ Criteria. The Question Is How Do ‘We The People’ Come To Terms With Premeditated Politicians & Make Their Punishments Fit Their Black Side, Not Their Premeditated White Side! I Never Said It Would Be Easy.
(Now back to the Post!)
“Fast Track for the TPP fails to address our nation’s massive and growing trade deficit or currency manipulation in member countries of TPP negotiations”, said Roger Johnson, president of the National Farmers Union. “Congress should maintain its constitutional authority to address these concerns by rejecting TPA legislation that removes it.”
Leaked texts first published by the Citizens Trade Campaign, and more recently by WikiLeaks, further reveal U.S. negotiators pushing extreme investor-state dispute settlement and intellectual property provisions for the TPP that would jeopardize environmental protections, consumer safety standards, Internet freedom and access to medicine in the United States and throughout the Pacific Rim.
“We have serious environmental concerns about the pending trade agreements which is why we oppose giving a blank check to turn those into law”, said Peter Lehner, executive director of the Natural Resources Defense Council. “These agreements could undercut many of our bedrock environmental and public health protections.”
“Congress should reject this retrograde fast track legislation that is designed to usher in the secret Trans-Pacific Partnership — a trade deal that is a raw deal for consumers”, said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch. “The fine print in Fast Track contains an all-out attack on America’s consumer protection and food safety laws. Fast Track allows U.S. trade negotiators to trade away vital consumer safeguards to win giveaways for big business in the TPP or other trade deals. The safety of American consumers is up for sale under Fast Track.”
“MoveOn.org‘s 8 million members are adamantly opposed to Fast Track legislation that would grease the way to passing the TPP, and hand over even more power to massive, unaccountable corporations,” said Ben Wikler Washington director for MoveOn.org. “This is a basic, threshold question for Democrats: Will they stand with Elizabeth Warren and the public? Or will they vote against the people that, at least in the past, elected them to office?”
The letter notes that the Hatch-Ryan bill’s much-touted negotiating objectives “are entirely unenforceable”, that its transparency provisions “fail to match even the level of transparency found in past practice”, that “provisions that would ostensibly enable Congress to strip Fast Track authority from trade agreements … are, in fact, more difficult for Congress to trigger than simply voting down a Fast Tracked agreement in the first place”, and concludes that, “Put simply, this is the same failed Fast Track process that has delivered harmful trade agreements again and again”.
A PDF copy of the letter opposing Fast Track can be found online at:
(Don’t forget to Click on Image to increase text size or Click on URL to go directly to entire Post!)
Tabacco: I consider myself both a funnel and a filter. I funnel information, not readily available on the Mass Media, which is ignored and/or suppressed. I filter out the irrelevancies and trivialities to save both the time and effort of my Readers and bring consternation to the enemies of Truth & Fairness! When you read Tabacco, if you don’t learn something NEW, I’ve wasted your time.
Tabacco is not a blogger, who thinks; I am a Thinker, who blogs. Speaking Truth to Power!
In 1981′s ‘Body Heat’, Kathleen Turner said, “Knowledge is power”.
T.A.B.A.C.C.O. (Truth About Business And Congressional Crimes Organization) – Think Tank For Other 95% Of World: WTP = We The People