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World Affairs Council hosts pro-TPP gathering. We will be outside with our No to the TPP message. Plan on joining Oregon Fair Trade Campaign, Alliance for Democracy and others for this protest of the Trans-Pacific Partnership - bad for labor, bad for the environment, bad for access to medicine. Only thing the TPP does is is enrich the 1% and hurt everyday people around the world.
South Park Blocks, Downtown Portland
at 7:30 AM in PDT
On Monday March 21st
Join Oregon Fair Trade Campaign and our allies to send a LOUD and clear message to the White House, the State Department, and our Oregon Congressional Delegation: DOWN with the Trans-Pacific Partnership!
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is one of the most ambitious free trade agreements ever signed.
Those in favour say this trade deal will unleash new economic growth among countries involved.
Those against - particularly some Americans - fear it could mean jobs will move from the US to developing countries.
They also do not like the fact the five-year talks were held largely in secret.
TPP in a nutshell
It involves 12 countries: the US, Japan, Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, Brunei, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Mexico, Chile and Peru.
The pact aims to deepen economic ties between these nations, slashing tariffs and fostering trade to boost growth.
Member countries are also hoping to foster a closer relationship on economic policies and regulation.
The agreement could create a new single market something like that of the EU.
Which goods and services are affected?
Most goods and services are involved, but not all tariffs - which are taxes on imports - are going to be removed and some will take longer than others. In all, some 18,000 tariffs are affected.
For example, the signatories have said they will either eliminate or reduce tariffs and other restrictive policies from agricultural products and industrial goods.
Tariffs on US manufactured goods and almost all US farm products will go almost immediately once the deal is ratified.
On textiles and clothing, they will be removing all tariffs, but while the US Trade Representative says most tariffs will be removed immediately after the deal is ratified, "tariffs on some sensitive products will be eliminated over longer timeframes as agreed by the TPP Parties".
On trade in services, they have agreed that free trade would be quite a good thing, and in some areas, they are going to liberalise trade.
The full text of the TPP agreement - which runs to 30 chapters - has now been published and you can read it all here.
Here are ten moments where the President or his subordinates have lied – call it “misled” or “offered half-truths” or whatever; but I’m in an ornery mood so let’s just say lied – about his trade agenda:
1. 40 PERCENT: The President and his team have repeatedly described TPP as a deal involving nearly 40 percent of global GDP. This tells only part of the story. First of all, the U.S. by itself represents 22 percent of global GDP; a bill naming a post office would involve that much. Second, we already have free trade agreements with six TPP partners – Canada, Mexico, Australia, Singapore, Chile and Peru – and between them and us, that’s 80 percent of the total GDP in this deal. The vast majority of the rest is represented by Japan, where the average applied tariff is a skinny 1.2 percent, per the World Bank.
You can see this paragraph in graphic form here. The point is that saying TPP is about “40 percent of GDP” intimates that it would massively change the ability to export without tariffs. In reality it would have virtually no significance in opening new markets. To the extent that there’s a barrier in global trade today, it comes from currency manipulation by countries wanting to keep their exports cheap. The TPP has no currency provisions.
2. JOB CREATION: Saying, as the White House has, that the deal would support “an additional 650,000 jobs” is not true. This figure came from a hypothetical calculation of a report by the Peterson Institute for International Economics, which the Institute itself said was an incorrect way to use their data. “We don’t believe that trade agreements change the labor force in the long run,” said Peter Petri, author of the report, in a fact check of the claim.
The deal is actually more about building up barriers than taking them down. Much of TPP is devoted to increasing copyright and patent protections for prescription drugs and Hollywood media content. As economist Dean Baker notes, this is protectionist, and will raise prices for drugs, movies and music here and abroad.
3. EXPORTS ONLY: The Administration constantly discusses trade as solely a question of U.S. exports. A recent Council of Economic Advisors report touts: Exporters pay higher wages, and export industry growth translates into higher average earnings. But the Economic Policy Institute points out that this ignores imports, and therefore the ballooning trade deficit, which weighs down economic growth and wages. Talking about trade without discussing both imports and exports is like relaying the score of a ballgame by saying “Dodgers 4.” It is literally a half-truth. Recent trade deals have in fact increased the trade deficit, such as the agreement with South Korea. Senator Sherrod Brown notes that the deal has only increased exports by $1 billion since 2011, while increasing imports by $12 billion, costing America 75,000 jobs.
4. MOST PROGRESSIVE: Obama has called TPP “the most progressive trade deal in history.” First of all, so did Bill Clinton and Al Gore, when talking about NAFTA in 1993. Second, there’s reason to believe TPP doesn’t even clear a low bar for progressive trade deals. The Sierra Club, based on a leaked TPP environmental chapter, said that the deal is weaker than the landmark “May 10 agreement” for deals with Peru, Panama and Colombia, struck in 2007. Key Democrats who devised labor and environmental standards for those agreements, like Rep. Sander Levin, believe that TPP falls short. Even if the chapters were up to par, consistent lack of enforcement of the rules makes them ineffective. The U.S. Trade Representative has actually claimed the Colombia free trade agreement is positive because only one trade unionist in the country is being murdered every other week. Labor groups can only ask the White House to enforce labor rights violations, and for the past several years, the Administration simply hasn’t. So when Obama says violators of TPP will face “meaningful consequences,” based on the Administration’s prior enforcement, he’s lying.
5. CHANGING LAWS: On the controversial topic of Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS), where corporations can sue sovereign governments for monetary damages for violating trade agreements that hurt the company’s “expected future profits,” the White House has engaged in a shell game. They say, “No trade agreement is going to force us to change our laws.” But the point of a corporation suing the United States or any trade partner is to put enough financial pressure on a government to force them to alter the law themselves. So ISDS doesn’t “cause” a change in law only in the narrowest sense. Even third-party countries have curtailed regulations in reaction to ISDS rulings, as New Zealand did with their cigarette packaging law, awaiting the outcome of a dispute between the tobacco industry and Australia (a suit that continues despite an initial victory for Australia).
6. NEVER LOST: The White House assumes that the only thing America cares about with ISDS is the upsetting of our own laws. So they’ve stressed that the U.S. has never lost an ISDS case. This is irrelevant. What ISDS does is offer bailout insurance policy to multinational corporations. If they run into discrimination or regulatory squeezing by a foreign government, they can use an extra-judicial process to recoup their investment. Workers screwed over by trade agreements have no ability to sue governments; only corporations get this privilege.
The United States attracts businesses through our relative rule of law. When that insurance is granted to countries like Vietnam and Malaysia, it weakens our competitive advantage, and makes it simple for countries to outsource their operations. Their investment is protected, as is their ability to exploit cheap labor. This makes it impossible for America to compete.
7. WEAKENING DODD-FRANK: Obama reacted strongly to Senator Warren’s charge that a future President could overturn financial regulations or other rules through trade deals. “I’d have to be pretty stupid,” Obama told Yahoo News, to “sign a provision that would unravel” signature achievements like Dodd-Frank. I suppose he is, then, because modern trade agreements often seek to “harmonize” regulations, effectively setting a regulatory ceiling. This harmonization could, as Warren says, “punch holes in Dodd-Frank without directly repealing it,” by forcing regulators to roll back capital or leverage requirements.
European negotiators want a trade agreement with the U.S. called the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) to include a chapter “harmonizing” financial regulations. So far the Obama Administration has rejected this, while admitting the potential for regulatory harm. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew told Congress in December 2013, “Normally in a trade agreement, the pressure is to lower standards” on regulations, “and that’s something that we just think is not acceptable.” A future President might find it acceptable, and today’s vote on “fast-track” authority would give trade deals an expedited process, with no amendments or filibusters by Congress, for six years, outlasting the current Administration. Scott Walker or Jeb Bush may decide it’s perfectly appropriate to undermine regulations in trade deals.
8. STOPPING CHINA: President Obama frequently casts TPP as a way to “contain” China. “If we don’t write the rules for trade around the world, guess what, China will,” he said on Friday. This is so facile as to be totally meaningless. China is a major Pacific Rim economy, and will have a presence regardless of our actions. As former Clinton Defense Department official Chas Freeman writes, “China has been and will remain an inseparable part of China’s success story.” Plus, as I’ve written in Salon, weak “rule of origin” guidelines could allow China to import goods into TPP member countries without any tariffs, while freed from following any TPP regulations.
9. SECRET DEAL: Obama has angrily dismissed the notion that TPP is a “secret” deal, saying that everyone will have public access to the TPP text for at least 60 days before a final vote. This is not the point opponents are making. The vote on fast track would severely limit Congressional input into the deal. And right now, members of Congress can only see the text in a secure room, without being able to bring staffers or take notes, or even talk about specifics in public. That makes the deal effectively secret during the fast track vote. “The president has only committed to letting the public see this deal after Congress votes to authorize fast track,” Warren told Greg Sargent.
10. JUST A POLITICIAN: This idea from Obama that everybody opposing fast-track is acting like a mere “politician,” aside from demonizing the concept of representing constituents, neglects the fact that he’s a politician too. His interest in building a legacy, when practically nothing else has the potential to pass Congress the next two years, is a political interest. His possible interest in rewarding campaign contributors who would benefit from TPP is also political, or his desire to earn the respect of the Very Serious People who always support trade deals. Since Obama has a large platform and will not publicly debate any opponent on trade, he can float above it all, acting like a principled soul only wanting to better the country rather than a transactional ward heeler. This may be the biggest lie, that Obama’s somehow superior to everyone else in this debate.
David Dayen is a contributing writer for Salon. Follow him on Twitter at @ddayen.
January 2014 marked the twenty-year anniversary of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), a pact that has had devastating consequences for people and the environment in all three countries and beyond.
The pending Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) has been described as “NAFTA on Steroids,”and threatens to: Destroy livelihoods – accelerating the global race to the bottom in wages and working conditions
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a secretive, multinational trade agreement that threatens to extend restrictive intellectual property (IP) laws across the globe and rewrite international rules on its enforcement. The main problems are two-fold:
(1) Intellectual Property Chapter: Leaked draft texts of the agreement show that the IP chapter would have extensive negative ramifications for users’ freedom of speech, right to privacy and due process, and hinder peoples’ abilities to innovate.
(2) Lack of Transparency: The entire process has shut out multi-stakeholder participation and is shrouded in secrecy.
The twelve nations currently negotiating the TPP are the US, Japan, Australia, Peru, Malaysia, Vietnam, New Zealand, Chile, Singapore, Canada, Mexico, and Brunei Darussalam. The TPP contains a chapter on intellectual property covering copyright, trademarks, and patents. Since the draft text of the agreement has never been officially released to the public, we know from leaked documents, such as the May 2014 draft of the TPP Intellectual Property Chapter [PDF], that US negotiators are pushing for the adoption of copyright measures far more restrictive than currently required by international treaties, including the controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA).
Taking Action Against Fast Track Authority and the TPP
Informing and energizing the public
Activists dropped banners and marched in a “Fast Track” train to draw attention to the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement that corporations are trying to quickly make law.
Photo Credit: Ellen Davidson
September 25, 2013 |
Imagine a law that would allow corporations to sue countries whose labor laws, environmental legislation or food safety regulations result in a loss of profit. Well, it has a name: the Trans-Pacific Partnership. This agreement would further undermine the last traces of our democracy by allowing corporate power to permeate through various areas of our society.
And it’s all being negotiated in secret. About 600 representatives of corporate-interest groups, including Walmart, Monsanto, Chevron and Halliburton, have been advising the White House on the new agreement. Meanwhile, Congress has been completely left out of the matter, and now corporations want to “fast track” the legislation in order to quickly make their dreams come true. This process, known as Trade Promotion Authority, allows the president to sign legislation into law without congressional approval. Congress will then only get to weigh in with an up or down vote on the matter, without expert testimonies, hearings or opportunities to make amendments. This could all happen within the next few months.The banners read “Corporate Coup Against the People and Planet,” “Democracy, Not Corporatocracy” and “Transparency: Release the Text:”
On Monday, protesters continued their actions by marching nearly three miles in a “fast track” train.
Beginning at the White House, the activists once again paid a visit to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative before making a stop at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The protest concluded in front of the Capitol.
The protesters have plans to escalate their tactics if a lack of transparency and congressional oversight continues. Congressmembers from both parties, including Elizabeth Warren, Alan Grayson, Michelle Bachman and Walter Jones, have also vocally opposed the fast track process and are demanding that TPP’s text be released.
According to Flush The TPP, citizen opposition has stopped 14 trade agreements from becoming law in the last ten years. This means the people can do it again.
To learn more about TPP and how to get involved in the movement, visitflushthetpp.org.
Stop the Trans-Pacific Partnership. We will stop the TPP. It will be a great victory against transnational corporations seeking a global corporate coup. It will be at victory upon which we will continue to build a movement against the rule of money and concentrated corporate power. Here is the strategy:
The Cross-Border Organizing Summit & Rally against the Trans-Pacific Partnership took place along the U.S./Canada border on Saturday, December 1st at Peace Arch Park in Blaine, Washington
To learn more, please contact us at (503) 736-9777 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
TPA Community Meetings: theportlandalliance.org/communitymeetings
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