In Whose Interest is the Trans Pacific Partnership?

The following article appears in MAPA’s spring newsletter

In Whose Interest is the Trans Pacific Partnership?

By now many of us have heard about the Trans Pacific Partner­ship (TPP), a proposed trade and economic integration agreement among Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam. Massachusetts Peace Action opposes “Fast Track” legislation (officially called the Bi-Partisan Trade Promotion Act: H.R.1 330, S. 1900).

Many in the media are pronouncing this legislation and treaty as unlikely to gain traction.  But history tells us that we can not afford to let our guard down and must ramp up our efforts to stop Fast Track, because the 99% in this country and in all of the other 11 TPP countries have so much to lose.

What’s at risk if Fast Track and the TPP Should Pass?

  • Tens of Thousands of Jobs may be lost: TPP has been called NAFTA on steroids. Twenty years ago NAFTA was sold to us as a sure-fire way to create thousands of export based jobs. Instead, official records document a loss approaching one million jobs in the U.S.
  • Increased Poverty for the U.S. 99%: While official Gross National Product (GNP) and corporate balance sheets may grow, any increased wealth flows relent­lessly to the 1% at the top of the scale. Inequality which stifles economic growth, increases.
  • Desperation among the poor in the third world: While some extremely low-wage manufacturing jobs have been created, millions who live as small family farmers face being forced from their land by multinational industrial agriculture corporations. They will join the des­perately poor migrant work force seeking survival in cities and fueling immigration crises in wealthier countries.
  • Hard Won Protective Regulations: The huge shift in power to investors and corporations will allow corporations to challenge food-safety, environmental, financial, consumer, labor, and many other protections in special courts established to by-pass the constitutional court system.
  • The right to negotiate national drug schedules and pricing may be lost: In addition to undermining development of cheaper generic drugs by strengthening monopoly rights of big pharma, the TPP may undermine the ability of national governments to establish pricing in negotiated mass purchases, such as Medicare and the VA have done.
  • Democracy is threatened: The ability of democratic governments, local, city, and state, to set policy will be weakened by the secretly-negotiated TPP, the content of which was developed in part by corporate representatives.
  • The threat of war may be increased: Excluding and encircling China, the TPP is the economic wing of the military/ political Asia-Pacific Pivot. Historically, the U.S. has often intervened militarily in the region of the TPP, and may resort to such action to preserve its investors’ protections under the agreement.

Who then stands to benefit from the TPP? Too much of the back and forth in the press is about which country will benefit from the TPP and which will lose. In reality some in each country will win and some lose. The 579 billionaires in the TPP countries, their families, and their corporate allies, will no doubt benefit enormously. Aspiring billion­aires among the elite in each country may hope the TPP will allow them to climb into the exalted circles. It is up to us in the 99% here and in other countries to defeat this dangerous gambit of the TPP and to envision and bring about another globalism – one based on justice and equality.