Understanding and Opposing the Trans-Pacific Partnership Free Trade Agreement: By Harold Lavender

Pic from Common Dreams

By Harold Lavender

Corporations continue to pursue their agenda to rule the world through ever expanding so-called free trade deals.

In October 2015, after seven years of secret negotiations between governments and corporations, twelve states agreed on a text for the Trans-Pacific Partnership: the US, Canada, Mexico, Chile, Peru, Japan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, and Brunei. Other potential interested counties such as the Philippines, Indonesia, South Korea, and Colombia could be added but they would not be allowed to renegotiate any of terms of the deal. Notably, China is not included. The strongest characteristic of countries allied within the TPP is to shore up a bloc around US-leadership against challengers like China and an anti-imperialist bloc of Latin American nations. The deal covers 40 per cent of the total world Gross Domestic Product.

Canada’s largest corporations, especially those with major foreign investments, strongly support the TPP. The corporate media parrot the TPP line that ”comprehensive market access” will create increased opportunities for investors, which will benefit workers and consumers. Many think this is total crap.

Comprehensive market access includes investment. The deal opens all trade in goods and services to market privatization and greatly enhances intellectual property rights and patent rights, and control over the internet. In Canada, services such as health care are provided by federal, provincial, and municipal governments. They will all be required to change their rules to be TPP compliant. Big Pharma and corporate agribusiness are huge winners.

The TPP is not yet law, but its passage is being fast-tracked. In Canada the ratification timetable is very unclear. The Liberals promised a full consultation followed by a vote in parliament. But consultation after the fact is not consultation at all. The Canadian public had zero say in the negotiations. And now Canada’s Trade Minister says we are not entitled to change a single word in the text of the agreement.

So it is Yes or No. Unless they are persuaded that the cost is too high and that a very large numbers of people are strongly, actively, and militantly opposed to the deal, if the US says yes then the Liberal government will likely say we have no choice but to agree. People in the know are sounding alarms, but we are still very far from building the scale of movement necessary to defeat the TPP.

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