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Bigger than NAFTA

Posted by jmc01 (My Page) on
Sat, Nov 16, 13 at 16:36

There has been next to nothing about this trade agreement in the press....until Wiki leaks found it. Canada could end up being a big moderating force in this agreement based on other articles i've read. Don't rely on just this one article.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement: Obama's Dangerous International Deal
A free trade agreement that is neither about trade nor freedom.
Zenon Evans : November 16, 2013


While the Obama Administration appears to be growing ever-more-limp domestically, the president is still making a vigorous international push that has the potential to shift economic power dynamics, rewrite intellectual property laws, establish new labor and environmental regulations, and reduce the authority of Congress. And, the White House hopes to have all this sorted out by the end of this year.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP), considered the "cornerstone of the Obama Administration's economic policy in the Asia Pacific," has been quietly negotiated since since the president's first term began. The U.S. Trade Representative Office (USTR) presents the agreement as a means for the United States and other 11 other Pacific-rim countries to be the leaders of a technology-fueled future by trading with each other free of government tariffs. For all this, it has received a ringing endorsement from the New York Times.

However, as documents from negotiations have been leaked, a growing number of politicians and policy groups across political ideologies have found disconcerting features of the TPP that point not at all toward free trade, but bigger government, stricter laws, and less accountability.

Too Much Secrecy

Perhaps the most widely discussed aspects of the ongoing TPP negotiations is the apparent secrecy. Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) have spoken out against the lack of transparency for such a massive agreement. Warren even wrote a letter to Obama, goading him that the Bush administration conducted more democratic, transparent trade negotiations.

Simon Lester, a trade policy analyst with the Cato Institute, believes that transparency issue is overstated and suggests that a more meaningful debate should take place over the substance of the TPP. He writes:

First, a bit of secrecy is necessary to negotiate these agreements; with good reason, governments do not want to give away all of their objectives. Second, looking at other trade agreements that have been signed in recent years, most trade observers have a pretty good sense of what will be in the TPP.

Nevertheless, Maira Sutton a global policy analyst with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) senses something distinctly undemocratic about an agreement that has neither public participation nor congressional oversight, yet is apparently accessible to special interest groups. As she explained to Reason, "what is decided as being good for the economy and job creation is strictly dictated by corporations that have ready access to the text and have spent immeasurable amounts of money lobbying for provisions that enact regulations that benefit their private interests. We only know what's in this agreement based on official statements and leaked documents." She asks, "That really isn't any way to make international regulatory norms, is it?"

A Free Trade Agreement That is Neither About Trade Nor Freedom

A genuine free trade agreement between the U.S. and the emerging markets throughout the Pacific would create economic windfall all around. As Reason writers has suggested numerous times, removing government interference benefits all trading partners. The USTR makes excited, non-specific claims about how American businesses and workers are the primary focus and benefactors of the TPP.

Leaked papers paint a different picture. The USTR acknowledges the existence of 29 chapters under negotiation. Only five of these chapters deal directly with trade. The other 24 aim to influence many issues, such as food and environmental standards, intellectual property, and pharmaceutical formularies.

Various special interests groups openly voiced their support for the TPP in a letter to the president. The CEOs of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), International Trademark Association (INTA), and many others found common ground in anticipation of more rigorous "protection and enforcement of intellectual property." This, of course, benefits a few businesses, but directly contradicts the notion of liberalization and limited government influence in trade.

Lori Wallach, a trade policy expert with Public Citizen, believes the focus on non-trade issues should raise eyebrows about how seriously the TPP is interested in promoting free trade whatsoever. She points out that, after all, the U.S. already has free trade agreements with six of the countries in the negotiations, and excepting Japan, "the 4 TPP countries without existing U.S. trade pacts have [a] combined economy the size of Pennsylvania."

The EFF suggests that the U.S. government in particular is pushing for harsher intellectual property laws world-wide and that the agreement's "language reveals a profound disconnect with the reality of the modern computer." The policy group has detailed many potential harmful effects of TPP, such as restricting fair use and extending corporate copyrights for 120 years after a work's creation. The agreement would also make internet service providers more liable for copyright-infringing material posted to their sites, which could effectively turn Comcast, Verizon, and others into private Web-police.

Economist and founder of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, Dean Baker, writes that the TPP is not about free trade, but "can more accurately be described as a pact designed to increase the wealth and power of crony[ists]."

Despite the growing clout of limited-government advocates in Congress, there is little they�or others like Warren and Wyden�could do to stop the TPP. Congress essentially gave up its constitutional authority to regulate commerce with foreign nations in 1974 with the introduction of "fast-track" authority. This privileges the president to flip the bill-making process on its head: The president introduces an international agreement that Congress votes on, but can neither filibuster nor amend. Although fast-track expired in 2007, the Obama Administration has been pushing for a renewal, specifically for the TPP.

Even more alarming, the agreement would shift power from the federal government to international authority.

The TPP allows for an "investor-state" system, which in principle is good for liberalizing economies. "The idea of allowing foreign investment in and allowing domestic investors abroad is a great one. We should let investments go wherever investors want them to," says Lester. However, he cautions that "the problem is, a lot of [TPP] rules are very vague. They'll say, for example, the government has to provide foreign investors with fair and equitable treatment. Nobody knows what that means."

These loosely worded rules would make the U.S. vulnerable to foreign companies "raiding the U.S. Treasury" through extrajudicial tribunals, says Wallach. For example, a Vietnamese corporation would have the ability to take the U.S. government to the international quasi-court with the allegation that America's domestic labor laws cut into their expected future profits.

If the U.S. government were actually interested in promoting free trade, it could entirely sidestep relinquishing legislative power to a hodgepodge web of nations. It could simply agree to lower tariffs in exchange for the same treatment. But instead, we are facing a deal that would undermining the democratic process entirely, disenfranchising the voting public to whom our government is accountable.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Bigger than NAFTA

  • Posted by ohiomom 3rdrockfromthesun (My Page) on
    Sat, Nov 16, 13 at 16:52

JMC I have read a couple of articles on TPP, they have referred to it as "nafta on steroids".

Must admit was waiting for this to be discussed on HT .. the fact that the "creators" have their fingers in the pie leaves me to believe that the American worker will end up with crumbs.


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RE: Bigger than NAFTA

Just another necessary step in the concentration of all wealth and power into a tiny global elite, yah?


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Pn, just remember when you start griping about this agreement in a couple of years, that you could have learned about it now.


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RE: Bigger than NAFTA

From the OP:

"Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) have spoken out against the lack of transparency for such a massive agreement. Warren even wrote a letter to Obama, goading him that the Bush administration conducted more democratic, transparent trade negotiations."

"If the U.S. government were actually interested in promoting free trade, it could entirely sidestep relinquishing legislative power to a hodgepodge web of nations. It could simply agree to lower tariffs in exchange for the same treatment. But instead, we are facing a deal that would undermining the democratic process entirely, disenfranchising the voting public to whom our government is accountable."

This is very scary stuff. So "the president is still making a vigorous international push that has the potential to shift economic power dynamics, rewrite intellectual property laws, establish new labor and environmental regulations, and reduce the authority of Congress. And, the White House hopes to have all this sorted out by the end of this year."

Why? More power for the president and his cronies? This doesn't sound good at all.

Thanks for posting this, jmc.


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I have consistently opposed globalization, as I did NAFTA and yell out l TOLD YOU SO! about the negative effects on California's and Mexico's economies, particularly driving rural Mexicans off the land and into the barrios and borderlands thus worsening the illegal immigration pressures.


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NAFTA; shudder. Was that Clinton?


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Yes, that was President Clinton on half of his Wall Street cronies.


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At the link is an article from that commie rag Mother Jones, talking about some of the concerns and who's lobbying who.

Its a bit dated, July of 2013.

Here is a link that might be useful: link


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Snip

'Although the treaty negotiations are being kept under a thick veil of secrecy, a draft document leaked to the Internet discloses that as part of its membership in the TPP, the United States would agree to exempt foreign corporations from our laws and regulations, placing the resolution of any disputes as to the applicability of those matters to foreign business in the hands of an international arbitration tribunal overseen by the secretary-general of the United Nations.

The leaked information also confirms the fears of many who from the beginning have opposed the entry of the United States into this trade agreement. The alarms sounded by several groups on the Left and the Right warning of the wholesale damage that the TPP could cause to commerce, copyrights, and the Constitution now seem vindicated.

An organization actively protecting the sovereignty of the United States is Americans for Limited Government (ALG). In June 2012, ALG released a statement drawing attention to critical provisions of the leaked TPP agreement, as well as ably pointing out some of the most noxious aspects of the proposed agreement:

These new trade agreements will place domestic U.S. firms that do not do business overseas at a competitive disadvantage. Based on these leaked documents, foreign firms under this trade pact could conceivably appeal federal regulatory and court rulings against them to an international tribunal with the apparent authority to overrule our sovereignty. If foreign companies want to do business in America, they should have to follow the same rules as everyone else. No special favors.

It is telling that the only apparent way these Pacific nations will enter a free trade agreement with the U.S. is if they are exempt from our onerous environmental and financial regulations that make it cost-ineffective to do business here. Instead of making these foreign firms exempt from these burdensome rules, they should just repeal the regulations and make it cheaper to do business here.'

Snip

Here is a link that might be useful: TPP


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I couldn't believe it when NAFTA came into being, but this sounds even worse. And this is the first I've heard of it.


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Jm, so I know of it now. So what? I guess you're going hawk up that old bolus about if a few powerless people in a democracy notice and oppose some maneuver by the omnipotent elite they need merely change the machinery of power via their vote?

What a hoot, I love that one. Yeah, hey, if you don't like consolidated global trade to the benefit of a tiny minority and fiat currency, just come up with more fiat cash (out of your working-wage job) than the federal reserve can to pay off the politicians....oh, no, that's not it, get out there and motivate the disenfranchised to vote...yeah, that's it.


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RE: Bigger than NAFTA

  • Posted by ohiomom 3rdrockfromthesun (My Page) on
    Sun, Nov 17, 13 at 8:20

I have to agree with PNB, unfortunately "we the people" are powerless to stop this train. Our votes are not worth the paper they are printed on, our politicians are ruled by the corporate elite. Notice how they have a "voice" in this process?


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OH? Throw a large dose of Canada's objections into the mix (which you'll have to find on other websites) and we'll see. Go ahead, tho, and just sit back...

The People Can Defeat the Trans-Pacific Partnership
Saturday, 16 November 2013 10:07
By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers , Dissident Voice :

Momentum is growing in the campaign to stop the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Yesterday, the TPP was dealt two blows. Each could be lethal but the TPP, and its Atlantic counterpart, called TAFTA, are not dead yet. It is time for the movement of movements that formed to oppose the TPP to stand in solidarity, defeat these agreements and end the era of rigged corporate trade.
Yesterday’s first blow came from Wikileaks, showing once again that when government works in secret with big corporations, exposure by whistle blowers is critical to changing the corrupt direction of government and the economy. Wikileaks published the full text of the intellectual property chapter; the leaked document included the positions of all the parties. It will take time for all the corporate rigging in this lengthy document to be understood, but already it is evident that Internet freedom will be curtailed, access to health care will become more expensive and access to information will be undermined.

This is not the first leak of TPP text. Previous leaks are consistent with the Wikileaks leak ��" enhanced corporate power that puts profits before the needs of the people and the protection of the planet. The Wikileaks release shows that the United States is by far the most aggressive advocate for trans-national corporate interests, often isolated in pushing for harmful policies.
The second blow came from members of the U.S. House of Representatives. In recent days, several letters were sent to President Obama opposing Fast Track Trade Promotion Authority. Fast Track undermines Congress’ responsibility under the Commerce Clause to regulate trade between nations by allowing the president to sign the agreement before Congress even sees it. The letters made public on November 13th demonstrate broad bi-partisan opposition to Fast Track with 179 Members signing at least one of the three letters.

A letter spearheaded by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Rep. George Miller (D-CA) garnered the support of three-quarters of House Democrats with 151 Members telling President Obama they oppose Fast Track, writing:
We will oppose ‘Fast Track’ Trade Promotion Authority or any other mechanism delegating Congress’ constitutional authority over trade policy that continues to exclude us from having a meaningful role in the formative stages of trade agreements and throughout negotiating and approval processes.

Important leaders of the Democratic Party signed the letter including 18 out of 21 Ranking Members who would chair committees if the Democrats were in the majority. This means that to pursue Fast Track authority, President Obama will need to challenge three-quarters of his own party.

But, that is not all. In another letter, organized by Mike Thompson (D-CA) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and signed by 12 of the 16 Democratic Party members of the Ways and Means Committee, which is primarily responsible for Fast Track legislation, members expressed opposition to Fast Track unless it was radically different from previous grants of authority. The letter says it “cannot just be an extension of earlier trade promotion authorities. Any new proposed TPA must . . . ensure Congress plays a more meaningful role in the negotiating process.”

And, the opposition is bi-partisan. Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) and Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) drafted a letter signed by 23 Republicans. The Republican letter emphasized that Congress has the “exclusive authority to set the terms of trade.” Further, “The Founders established this clear check and balance to prevent the president from unilaterally negotiating with foreign nations and imposing trade policies that Congress would deem to be against the national interest.” They write that they refuse to “cede our constitutional authority to the executive” through Fast Track.

These are just the latest problems in the quest for Fast Track, indeed a bill has yet to be introduced. The previous US Trade Representative, Ron Kirk, said in 2012: “We’ve got to have it.” He wanted the authority by the end of 2012. In April, Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) promised Obama Fast Track by June of 2013. The broad bi-partisan opposition announced this week shows that winning Fast Track has very little support in Congress. In fact, the letters may be the death knell for such legislation.

The Wikileaks documents show there is a lot of division among the negotiating nations with important disagreements on key aspects of the text. Without Fast Track to guarantee passage of the TPP, these nations will be even less likely to agree to demands by the U.S. Further, Asian countries are negotiating their own competing agreement, which does not include the United States but, unlike the TPP, does include China.

Latin American countries are also speaking out against the TPP. Earlier this year, Rodrigo Contreras, Chile’s lead TPP negotiator quit to warn people of the dangers of the TPP ��" highlighting how big financial institutions will dominate their governments and how the TPP “will become a threat for our countries: It will restrict our development options in health and education, in biological and cultural diversity, and in the design of public policies and the transformation of our economies. It will also generate pressures from increasingly active social movements, who are not willing to grant a pass to governments that accept an outcome of the TPP negotiations that limits possibilities to increase the prosperity and well-being of our countries.” And, recently the Parliament of Peru passed a resolution “requesting that the government open a ‘public, political, and technical debate’ on the binding rules being negotiated in the TPP.”

In the United States, cities and counties are beginning to pass TPP Free Zones, saying they will not obey the TPP if it becomes law. These local governments are concerned with provisions that would not allow them to give preference to buying local, buying U.S. made goods or other provisions that undermine their sovereignty.

In addition to opposition in the U.S. government and foreign governments, a mass citizen uprising is developing against the TPP. There have been large protests in many of the countries involved in the negotiations as well as in the United States. The night before the Wikileaks documents were released, 13 cities did visibility protests opposing the TPP in light shows. In September we joined with activists in Washington, DC in a series of protests, includingcovering the office building of the US Trade Representative in banners toexpose their secret trade agreement. Protests are scheduled for Salt Lake City, UT on November 19th where lead negotiators from 12 countries will hold meetings. A global day of protest is planned for December 3 against not only the TPP but also the WTO and all toxic trade agreements.
The TPP is running into resistance in Congress, local governments and among Pacific nations in Asia and Latin America; and by people who oppose the agreement all over the world. This is part of a growing movement of movements ��" all of the movements impacted by corporate trade; e.g. labor, environmental, Internet freedom, health care, food sovereignty, immigrants’ rights, banking regulation ��" are joining together to defeat it.

The people are winning. Fourteen trade agreements have been stopped in the last 14 years and as Tom Donohue of the US Chamber of Commerce wrote this week “the WTO has not concluded a single new multilateral trade agreement since it was created in 1995.” Mass protest against rigged corporate trade agreements can end the experiment in trade that puts profits ahead of the people and planet.

We are on the verge of defeating Fast Track. It is important that we keep the pressure on Congress. Neither the TPP nor TAFTA will become law if people learn what is in them and Congress fulfills its constitutional responsibility to review their impact. Denying the President Fast Track is the essential step to defeat both of these agreements.

Once we defeat Fast Track and prevent TPP and TAFTA from becoming law, we need to remain in solidarity and work to transform trade so it becomes “fair” trade that puts the necessities of the people and the protection of the planet first. The people will have firmly established that they will not tolerate rigged corporate trade deals. If corporations want to see trade between nations, they need a new approach ��" transparent, participatory and fair ��" with new goals of serving the people and planet.

Here is a link that might be useful: Truth out


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RE: Bigger than NAFTA

I also agree with PNBrown on this one... it doesn't matter how much we're aware of as citizens... it's more about how can we pay for the change we need to occur? Well, we can't. We don't have the influence borne of generational cronyism, power or wealth.

In large part, our votes are ineffectual... they simply keep the greater of the crazies or evil out of office. So, while it's still important that we vote in this, basically, 2 party system we have going on, those votes only "buy us a little more time", so to speak... because they sure don't buy us anything else.


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I would not count Canada in as much of a moderator with Harper at the helm. He has been very secretive about the TPP negotiations so far . I would not trust him farther than I could throw him

Here is a link that might be useful: Harper keeps info close.......


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RE: Bigger than NAFTA

  • Posted by ohiomom 3rdrockfromthesun (My Page) on
    Sun, Nov 17, 13 at 9:48

"mass protest"

Yes JMC I read the same article(s) ... and we have all seen how mass protests have changed the status quo. Look at the reaction to OWS when they "tried" to bring awareness to the citizenry about the 1% .. even here on HT.

The "creators" rule us. Let us pay.


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RE: Bigger than NAFTA

Why would "Canada" stop such an agreement? Canada is controlled by the same general class of elites that rule the rest of the world.


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RE: Bigger than NAFTA

Who said that Canada was going to stop the agreement? I was responding to jmc's comment in her OP.

" Canada could end up being a big moderating force in this agreement"

My comment was NOT to count on such thing from Harper......

..........Not sure why you put Canada in apostrophes either.


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RE: Bigger than NAFTA

I was replying to JM, and the quotation marks were to indicate that Canada is mentioned in the linked article, as a possible check to this trade agreement.


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All I can say is .....don't count on us. Harper is so excited that the big boys asked him to play he'll do anything to please them.


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I believe that we agree on this.


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Indeed we do....... :)


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I did say moderating force and that's what I meant. Dig into Canada's stance on copyright reforms. It appears to me that Harper isn't so willing to play without challenging the big boys.

This situation is being updated pretty much daily and i find it worth reading about. Michaelgeist.ca is doing some good reporting on the Canadian side of things.

I'm opting to try and stay current, although my job gets in the way. And my job is to put into place processes that will be required starting next year, processes that have resulted from steps the US government has taken in the last few years to effect change in one particular area within financial services.


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Are you comfortable elaborating on your job and/or the pending change jmc? I'm involved in the financial services industry and I know there has been talk of upcoming and substantial changes in IT (my guess is OFAC related).


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Dodd Frank and FATCA are keeping people super busy. OFAC is small potatoes in comparison.


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First American Title? Interesting. I don't have experience in lending, but I'll take a stab - I know there has been talk about smaller title companies and their abilities to access databases and other informational sources. And with a nod to RESPA, buyers' have the right to source their own title insurance, but most are unaware of that. So perhaps implementation of processes that will better allow and integrate a free(er) market?


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Not only that, but one can buy without title insurance, period, or even "marketable" title. Most sellers don't know that either, unfortunately. Clouded or unclear title is common around here for vacant land, if sellers realized that they could sell their quitclaim even so they would get something rather than nothing for an inherited claim.


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Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act.


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"Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act."

Uh, yeah. That's a biggie. Wish it affected me in a meaningful way ;-)


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Found it.

Thanks, Elvis. Good memory. This is one I missed; will read it tomorrow.


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"It is instructive that a duly elected senator of the United States has to beg and plead and threaten legislation in order to see the TPP trade agreement negotiations, but corporate interests are given a password by the USTR that grants them full, unrestricted access to those same documents."

:O(


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