After Four Years of Secret Meetings, the U.S. Still Pushing For Corporate Rights Around the World
By Terrah Baker
It’s been four years since secret talks of a Trans Pacific Partnership between the world’s largest political and corporate elites started taking place, and the people of the U.S. are still just getting wind of what it would really mean for them, and the world.
On Dec. 9, two large government watch dogs, WikiLeaks and The Huffington Post, published documents relating to the TPP that showed how the “gigantic” trade agreement was being discussed in secret meetings held throughout the world. And worse, that the U.S. administration is seeking to “fast-track” the agreement through Congress, bypassing public scrutiny and the constitutional process laid out for the U.S. government.
If the American people don’t get a say on how their government is representing them in largely secret discussions on a world-trade agreement, many are assuming its because they wouldn’t like what’s being said.
“One of the most controversial provisions in the talks includes new corporate empowerment language insisted upon by the U.S. government, which would allow foreign companies to challenge laws or regulations in a privately-run, international court,” the Huffington Post reported.
Currently, under World Trade Organization treaties, the political power to contest government law is reserved for sovereign nations. Under the TPP, that would change. And the sad truth is, it’s the U.S. who’s leading the march for these corporate interest inclusions, despite arguments from other involved nations. While this is no surprise to many, and the U.S. has endorsed corporate political powers in prior trade agreements — like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) — “the scope of laws that can be challenged appears to be much broader in TPP negotiations.”
The TPP documents leaked by the news agencies included provisions “that would grant multinational corporations vast new powers and that, among these, are virtual veto-powers over local environmental and labor laws.”
The U.S. is also pushing for bank regulation standards. The standards the Obama administration is pushing run from “restricting lending in overheated markets to denying mass international outflows of currency during a financial panic…dramatically limit(ing) the ability of governments to prevent and stem banking crisis.”
To make matters worse, while the TPP would affect every American who “works for a living,” the mainstream media has grossly undercovered the meetings and even the agreement itself.
Citizen and crowd-funded groups like the Citizens Trade Agreement first broke the story of secret talks from leaked documents two years ago. This Saturday, Dec. 14, will mark the four-year anniversary of the Obama administrations attempts to complete the TPP Free Trade Agreement. They, and other fair trade organizations, are urging U.S. citizens to take action by contacting Congress and telling them to oppose the Fast Track and that TPP documents should be released for public scrutiny.
“This ‘NAFTA on Steroids’ agenda that the White House is pushing on behalf of Wall Street, the Chamber of Commerce and other big corporate interests can be stopped,” said executive director of CTA Arthur Stamoulis.
By far, they’re not the only ones standing up against the pact. The Teamsters Nation, InfoWars.com with Alex Jones, Doctors Without Borders, MSF Canada, Truth-Out, Idle No More, and organizations throughout the world from Japan to Peru are spreading the word about the secrecy and dangers, and supported a National Day of Action Against TPP on Nov. 12.
A Global Day of Action held Dec. 3 saw protests including Japanese farmers against Vice President Biden’s visit to Tokyo, and hundreds in Bali’s Renon Square. In Washington, D.C., a petition of 42,000 was delivered to the U.S. Trade Representative demanding transparency. These protests occurred shortly after WikiLeaks released a chapter of the TPP dealing with intellectual property, which revealed “far-reaching and damaging effects on everything from civil liberties and Internet privacy to biological patents and copyrights,” according to Truth-Out.
The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative began posting press releases on their website about the TPP starting Nov. 1, 2013, which unequivocally support the agreement, of course citing world environmental organizations like the World Wildlife Fund, that have been largely in the last several years questioned to have intense corporate dealings.
Ultimately, activists and concerned citizens of the U.S. are saying stopping the TPP will depend solely on the Fast Track being stopped. To get involved, or learn more, research the Trans Pacific Partnership, and be careful where you’re getting your information.