Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Neoliberalism: the secret Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) draft trade treaty

Sen. Elizabeth Warren is criticizing the Obama Administration's unprecedented level of secrecy over the neoliberal Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade treaty to further deregulate business and reduced the incomes of American workers (Sen. Warren's Floor Speech in Opposition to Michael Froman's Nomination for U.S. Trade Representative 06/19/2013):

Trade agreements affect access to foreign markets and our level of imports and exports. They also affect a wide variety of public policy issues - everything from wages, jobs, the environment, and the Internet -- to monetary policy, pharmaceuticals, and financial services.

Many people are deeply interested in tracking the trajectory of trade negotiations, but if they do not have reasonable access to see the terms of the agreements under negotiation, then they can't have real input. Without transparency, the benefits from an open marketplaces of ideas are reduced enormously.

I am deeply concerned about the transparency record of the US Trade Representative and with one ongoing trade agreement in particular -- the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

For months, the Trade Representative who negotiates on our behalf has been unwilling to provide any public access to the composite bracketed text relating to the negotiations. The composite bracketed text includes proposed language from the United States and also other countries, and it serves as the focal point for negotiations. The Trade Representative has allowed Members of Congress to access the text, and I appreciate that. But that is no substitute for public transparency.

I have heard the argument that transparency would undermine the Trade Representative's policy to complete the trade agreement because public opposition would be significant. In other words, if people knew what was going on, they would stop it. This argument is exactly backwards. If transparency would lead to widespread public opposition to a trade agreement, then that trade agreement should not be the policy of the United States. ...

The American people have the right to know more about the negotiations that will have dramatic impact on the future of the American economy. And that will have a dramatic impact on our working men and women, on the environment, on the Internet.

We should have a serious conversation about our trade policies, because these issues matter. But it all starts with transparency from the U.S. Trade Representative. [my emphasis]
The Real News reported on the TPP in Everyone but China TPP Trade Deal Threatens Sovereignty and Public Ownership 03/30/23013:

Lori Wallach and Ben Beachy of Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch also write about the secrecy issue in Obama'’s Covert Trade Deal New York Times 06/02/2013:

The agreement, under negotiation since 2008, would set new rules for everything from food safety and financial markets to medicine prices and Internet freedom. It would include at least 12 of the countries bordering the Pacific and be open for more to join. President Obama has said he wants to sign it by October. ...

While the agreement could rewrite broad sections of nontrade policies affecting Americans’ daily lives, the administration also has rejected demands by outside groups that the nearly complete text be publicly released. Even the George W. Bush administration, hardly a paragon of transparency, published online the draft text of the last similarly sweeping agreement, called the Free Trade Area of the Americas, in 2001.

There is one exception to this wall of secrecy: a group of some 600 trade "advisers," dominated by representatives of big businesses, who enjoy privileged access to draft texts and negotiators. ...

From another leak, we know the pact would also take aim at policies to control the cost of medicine. Pharmaceutical companies, which are among those enjoying access to negotiators as “advisers,” have long lobbied against government efforts to keep the cost of medicines down. Under the agreement, these companies could challenge such measures by claiming that they undermined their new rights granted by the deal.

And yet another leak revealed that the deal would include even more expansive incentives to relocate domestic manufacturing offshore than were included in Nafta — a deal that drained millions of manufacturing jobs from the American economy.

The agreement would also be a boon for Wall Street and its campaign to water down regulations put in place after the 2008 financial crisis. Among other things, it would practically forbid bans on risky financial products, including the toxic derivatives that helped cause the crisis in the first place. [my emphasis]
This is yet another area affected by the Obama Administration poisonous addiction to excessive secrecy that further undermines democracy in the US, and this on an issue that has major implications for our economic well-being, as well.

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