One of the most significant and impactful deals involving trade in history, it is shocking how little most Americans and American politicians know about the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Its specifics have been kept secret behind closed doors for years by corporations and government officials that don’t want you to know what’s in the deal–including legislation that would directly affect food safety standards, environmental protections, local labor laws, and internet privacy.
WHAT IS THE TPP?
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a massive multinational free trade agreement, between 12 nations of the Pacific Rim, including the US, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Japan, Chili, Mexico, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam. The agreement has been in negotiation for nearly five years, and is just now reaching its final stages before becoming finalized. President Obama has been fully behind the deal since its introduction in 2010, claiming its potential to “boost US economic growth, support American jobs, and grow Made-in-America exports to some of the most dynamic and fastest growing countries in the world.”
AN INCREASE IN CORPORATE POWER
The TPP will grant corporations the right to sue federal governments —completely bypassing domestic courts—on the grounds that active legislation would restrict their profit margins. This means that any legislation that doesn’t agree with big business would be likely to come under fire, liable to be changed at a corporation’s whim to better fit their needs.
In fact, instances of this happening have already taken place. Right now, Philip is trying to reverse the Fair And Equitable Tobacco Reform Act (FETRA), implemented by US Department of Agriculture (USDA), in an attempt to score more profit from increasing taxes. This is just one example of how corporations would be able to manipulate crucial legislation that directly affects US citizens in order to rake in millions of tax dollars. The new deal would also give foreign firms the ability to change new policies–such as those dealing with wildlife conservation and climate change protection—simply because the new policies don’t match a corporation’s “expectations.”
The new deal would also give foreign firms the ability to change new policies–such as those dealing with wildlife conservation and climate change protection—simply because the new policies don’t match a corporation’s “expectations.” This places vital legislation that we use today to keep a clean environment and healthy communities at risk.
For example, it is likely that corporations and industries frustrated by the bold new expansion of the Clean Water Act —which now protects a much wider variety of water bodies, including seasonal streams and ponds—will be able to appeal to changing the new legislation, or else sue the government that tries to stop them.
FOOD SAFETY AT RISK
Under the TPP, the US would be required to allow food imports from foreign nations if their safety standards are equal to our own, even if they violate core principles of our food safety legislation. Because of this, food inspection would likely be outsourced to other countries, undermining our own US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which already only inspects less than 1% of all seafood imports. With countries such as Vietnam and Malaysia—both countries with severe seafood issues—entering into a partnership with the US under the TPP, cause for concern involving the safety of our food.
Many critics of the TPP also speculate that food labels, telling the customer where and how their food was produced may be labeled as “trade barriers” by b corporations, thus giving them the right to sue the US. And the potential risks of implementing the TPP don’t stop here. Under the trade agreement’s legislation, healthcare corporations are more than expected to increase the price of medicine, placing underdeveloped countries at further risk, already unable to afford healthcare. Other areas that the TPP would directly affect such as internet freedom and worker’s rights are also under attack by civilians and government officials alike.
HOW DO WE STOP IT?
Fortunately, not everyone in Congress is willing to sign up for the new bill just yet. In fact, most government officials are just as uninformed as civilians are in relation to the specifics of the bill, with both republicans and democrats uniting against fast tracking the TPP—a process that would skip the formal steps taken to implement the new bill, instead putting it immediately into action. However, a large coalition of corporate lobbyists are still present in Congress, trying to get government officials to sign the deal as fast as possible. Critics of the bill stress the need for public awareness of TPP legislation, as right now, government officials are only able to hear the cries from multinational corporations.
Last month, Wikileaks released several chapters straight from the TPP that have been long kept secret from the public, including chapters concerning its environmental impact, which you can read for yourself here. Head of Wikileaks Julian Assange stated, “The transparency clock has run out on the TPP. No more secrecy. No more excuses. Let’s open the TPP once and for all.” The website has since placed a bounty on the TPP, offering a $100,000 reward for anyone who publishes it for all to see.
There is currently no mention of any expiration date or separation clause included in the bill, meaning that once it passes, the TPP would be here to stay.
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