Trans Pacific Partnership protesters caused a bit of a disturbance at a gathering hosted by Nancy Pelosi. The House Minority Leader initiated the event in order to commemorate the first ever White House “Status of Women” report. A group comprised primarily of college student activists urged Pelosi to vote against the trade deal which some are calling a “NAFTA on steroids” move.
The potential deal between the United States and Pacific Rim nations has been so closely guarded that Congress has reportedly been able to garner only a few details about the agreement.The free trade deal negotiations memos recently leaked to the media have swanned alarm among economists, labor unions, and environmental groups. The TPP involves 12 different nations and could give “radical new political powers” to international corporations, restrict banking regulations, and drive up the cost of prescription medicines, if predictions by opponents are accurate.
The Trans Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TPIP) and the Trans Pacific Partnership would allegedly force the United States to “harmonize” food safety standards. Americans who are concerned that the USDA, FDA, and EPA agencies are not protecting the safety and integrity of our food supply and too eager to allow GMO production to move forward unchecked, and counted among those deeply concerned about the emerging partnership.
All of the countries which sign onto the trade agreement would have their food safety standards respected when exporting products. The Obama administration is reportedly using the Fast Track procedure to reroute the process around Congress and removing the possibility of the addition of amendments to the trade agreement. Fast Track was a process created during the the Nixon administration. The process essentially negates the powers of Congress.
Congress has reportedly been left out of the process and the governing body is not involved in the negotiations between the Obama administration and Trans Pacific Partnership group nations. Leaked TPP memos published by the Huffington Post indicate that the Obama administration has deemed the talks among the trade treaty partners classified and banned Congress from sharing the country’s negotiating stance with either the press corps members of the public. If the details in the memo are accurate, Congressional staffers have not been permitted to view the TPP documents either.
The US Chamber of Commerce and a host of American corporations support the Trans Pacific Partnership. One of the most hotly contested portions of the Trans Pacific Partnership plan involves the “corporate empowerment” portion of the document text. The insertion of such language was allegedly added upon the insistence of the Obama administration. This portion of the agreement would reportedly give international companies the authority to challenge American laws and related regulations in a privately run foreign court.
World Trade Organization treaties state that the political power necessary to contest government laws is strictly reserved for sovereign nations, according to The Blaze. The United States has already endorsed some “corporate political powers” in preceding trade deals, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement – NAFTA. The scope of challengeable laws and regulations appears to be far more broad under the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement, but much still remains under wraps about the international trade deal.
One of the Trans Pacific Partnership (highly redacted) memos published by the Huffington Post was written prior to the most recent round of trade deal talks in Singapore last week.
An excerpt from one of the published memos reads:
“It should be mentioned that the US is exerting great pressure to close as many issues as possible this week. However the chapters that were reviewed by the CNs [chief negotiators] today did not record much progress. This pressure will increase with every passing day. US Chief met with all twelve countries and said that they were not progressing according to plan. One country remarked that up until now there had not been any perceivable movement on the part of the US and that is the reason for the situation. The results are mediocre, although there was a little more progress in the following areas: access for goods, investment, TBT [technical barriers to trade], and public procurement.”
The memo goes on to suggest that some negotiating chiefs involved with the Trans Pacific Partnership talks feel the need to prepare “different scenarios” so avoid surprised that affect discussions on down the line. A section headed “Transparency Annex on Medicines” stated that there was some “bad news” in regards to the United States. The TPP memo went on to note that American negotiators had revived the Transparency Annex on Medicines report that had also been drafted jointly with Japan and Australia.
Some nations at the trade deal table reportedly expressed “annoyance” that the revised document resembled language that had been “strongly rejected” previously. In response to the angst, United States chief negotiators reportedly noted that the document does not apply to all countries and was asked by the other countries to inset a footnote which said as much. Since Congress is not involved with the process and details have been deemed classified by the Obama administration, nothing more is known about the laws, concept scope, or text contained inside the transparency on medicines section of the trade deal.
One of the sections of the Trans Pacific Partnership deal regarded as the “most important” in the leaked memo was the portion pertaining to Investor State Dispute Resolution – ISDS regulations and authority. The TPP memo also stated that only Japan and United States chief negotiators supported the current proposal. Other member nations have reportedly expressed their desire to explore other ideas to “refine the concept and make some reservations” about the contract forum choice.”
A meeting was “interrupted” during the talks because the Trans Pacific Partnership nations could not “get past” a dispute on the definition of environmental law. A section of the memo labeled “Agricultural Export Subsidies” stated that all trade deal countries except the United States was committed to eliminating all such subsidies. A floor vote on the TPP could be called as early as the first few weeks of 2014.
How do you feel about the Trans Pacific Partnership and the exclusion of both Congress and the public from details about the trade deal?