STAFF NEWS & ANALYSIS
As TPP Sails Forth, It Drags the West Into Uncharted Waters
By Staff News & Analysis - February 10, 2015

'Free trade' isn't what Trans-Pacific Partnership would deliver … Think the Trans-Pacific Partnership is a free trade agreement? Think again. In principle, almost everyone's in favor of free trade. It promotes international harmony, raises wages, helps economies grow. It's an article of historical faith that the enactment of harsh protective U.S. tariffs in 1930 contributed to the Great Depression. And who wants that? – LA Times

Dominant Social Theme: Some sort of free trade pact is necessary.

Free-Market Analysis: There are two free trade pacts being negotiated currently, one in the "Pacific" and the other in the "Atlantic." The Pacific one seems to get most of the attention and there is good news for those who want the treaty cancelled or radically reconfigured.

The good news is that the US Congress is increasingly at odds with the way the Trans-Pacific Partnership is being handled. The fast track authority being demanded by Barack Obama is running into increased resistance because the treaty itself is a fairly radical – authoritarian – document.

What has brought the issue to the front again is twofold: One, comments from negotiators indicate the treaty may be finalized in a few weeks. Two, recent trade data seemed showed a widening trade gap.

Benzinga.com recently reported on the trade statistics, commenting, "The Commerce Department report … [showed] that the U.S. trade deficit widened to $505.05 billion in 2014—the nation's largest gap since 2008."

US demand for foreign goods and services is going up according to this report, in part because of the strong US dollar – strong relative to other currencies anyway. Those against the treaty believe that language should be strengthened that forbids certain kinds of foreign currency manipulation.

But concerns may run deeper than language. According to the LA Times article, "The pact — which has been under negotiation virtually since the turn of the century — is in trouble on Capitol Hill, where its enemies include conservatives and liberals."

The Times article tells us that TPP has "become a symbol of everything that's wrong with free trade agreements today." Here's more:

But "free trade" has little to do with the trade deal that President Obama hopes will be a high-water mark for his administration's foreign policy: the Trans-Pacific Partnership talks, which now involve the U.S. and 11 Pacific Rim countries — Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

The pact is being negotiated in secret, although U.S. trade negotiators have given big industries nice long looks behind the curtain. The White House is demanding "fast-track" approval from Congress, which limits the say lawmakers will have and requires them to ratify in haste. And public interest advocates say it could undermine rules and regulations governing the environment, health, intellectual property and financial markets (to name only a few topics).

The article offers three major doubts regarding TPP:

• Overreach. It's a big mercantilist mess, basically. Some pharmaceutical companies are directly shielded from competition by treaty language, while it also deals specifically with "food safety, product safety and access to drugs." Issues, in other words, that are only tangentially related to "free trade."

Even worse, corporations can seek rulings from international "arbitration courts" regarding sovereign laws and regulations. This is already taking place in areas regarding workplace regs and environmental issues. Sovereignty is eroded by such treaties, which take the power of law away from the nation-state and provide it instead to a new class of global judges.

• Secrecy. Like too many other modern-day negotiations, the TPP is being conducted in secret. U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman has tried to maintain tight control over the language and who sees it. But there are countercurrents. In 2012, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) introduced a bill requiring "that all lawmakers with oversight on trade policy be given access to key documents."

• "Fast-tracking." The White House wants the treaty signed under fast-tracking provisions that mandate lawmakers vote up or down on the treaty – as is – within 90 days. No filibusters allowed.

The article concludes that "opposition is growing from conservative Republicans and progressive Democrats alike." It calls the combination of secrecy and fast-tracking "overreach" and claims this sort of combination is increasingly seen as dangerous.

That sentiment is probably widespread. About a year ago, Canadians.org published an article entitled, "Demand the Harper government publish the Trans-Pacific Partnership."

Across Canada and around the world, people are speaking out about the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement (TPP). They are rallying against the secrecy of the 12-country negotiations and the corporate agenda behind the deal.

On February 12, legislators in seven of the 12 TPP countries issued the following joint statement about the negotiations:

We, the undersigned legislators from countries involved in the negotiation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, call on the Parties to the negotiation to publish the draft text of the Agreement before any final agreement is signed with sufficient time to enable effective legislative scrutiny and public debate

We can see from this that opposition to the treaty is both consistent and expanding. It is important to note that in the 20th century there would have been little or no way to oppose a treaty like this. One could write a letter or lobby in person but organizing a significant popular opposition was almost impossible.

But the Internet has changed more than a few legislative interactions. The opposition of so many people in Canada, the US and elsewhere seems to be having an impact. And even if the treaty does go through, it will have generated significant opposition. This is, in fact, what makes the current era both dangerous and promising.

The promise is that the Internet Reformation is making all sorts of globalist promotions increasingly irrelevant. The danger is that these promotions are insisted on anyway and that as a result government loses more and more legitimacy. Polls bear this out.

After Thoughts

The end result is social chaos. As we often – clearly and strong suggest – protect yourself and your family as best you can. The West (the world) is moving into uncharted waters.

Posted in STAFF NEWS & ANALYSIS
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