Our Failed Trade Policies Are Not Creating Jobs at Home
While the ugly and rancorous “fiscal cliff” battle has been playing out in Washington, another negotiation equally critical for America was also being conducted, this one behind closed doors far across the ocean: the impending Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement (“TPP”), also known as “NAFTA on steroids.” The finalizing of this agreement between 11 nations — the U.S., Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam (Japan and China may join later) — has been delayed until spring 2013, thanks in part to Public Citizen leading an international outcry through their Global Trade Watch unit, which has been headed by director Lori Wallach since 1995.
Few can rival Ms. Wallach’s expertise on trade agreements and their impact on nations and the larger world community, yet she was not among those invited to participate in these negotiations. Instead, 600 corporate advisors were in Auckland, New Zealand, over 10 days at the beginning of December, fine tuning this latest stealth trade deal during its 12th plus round of negotiations. Even the press was shut out. Clearly, Ron Kirk, the Obama administration’s U.S. Trade Representative, is hoping to ram this deal through like other recent trade deals, without transparency or, for that matter, Congressional input.
Among the outrageous sellouts to multi-national corporations in the TPP is a plan to create “extra-judicial ‘investor-state’ tribunals,” which would “… limit how signatory countries may regulate foreign firms operating within their boundaries, with requirements to provide them greater rights than domestic firms” and includes “… a two-track legal system, with foreign firms empowered to skirt domestic courts and laws to directly sue TPP governments in foreign tribunals… (where) they can demand compensation for domestic financial, health, environmental, land use laws and other laws they claim undermine their new TPP privileges.” This agreement would also force member nations to conform domestic laws and regulations to TPP rules. Lori Wallach calls this — rightfully so — a “corporate coup d’etat,” since the lawyer-judges running the tribunals would be in the employ of the multi-national corporations doing business in these countries, ensuring that their “bottom line” takes precedent over the health and welfare of member nations’ citizens.
Other odious aspects of this agreement include:
- allowing drug companies to extend their patents for several years, depriving the needy of affordable, lifesaving drugs while forcing the rest of us to pay still higher prices;
- protections and benefits for corporations that move jobs to other countries;
- limitations on how government can use tax revenues;
- barring of initiatives like “Buy American,” which is desperately needed to rebuild our economy and create green jobs;
- requirements that we import food that does not meet our standards of safety, as well as limitations on food labeling;
- rollbacks on regulation of Wall Street, including prohibiting a ban on risky financial services, making a mockery of the already tepid “Too Big to Fail” regulations passed after the 2009 crash;
- allowing Internet policing by service providers and monitoring of individual user activity on a large scale, negatively impacting people’s freedom of speech, privacy and right to due process, and killing innovation.
And we won’t even get into the provisions slipped into the TPP that gut regulations protecting land, air and water, as well as human and workers’ rights — this crowd hasn’t missed a trick. Meanwhile, all of this flim-flammery does nothing to address America’s trade deficit — except make it worse.
This is certainly not the complete list of egregious corporate giveaways for this so called “free trade” agreement – which really has little to do with trade and more to do with multi-national corporations being given carte blanche to operate outside of the laws of sovereign nations. Have we learned nothing from NAFTA, which resulted in one million American jobs being lost? And what of the one million Mexican farmers who lost their livelihoods due to NAFTA’s mandated agriculture policy changes, and the 2.5 million more livelihoods lost in Mexico when $2 per day wages became too high for corporate America, and those Mexican jobs headed to China, where wages can be as low as $1 per day. All in all, 26,000 small and medium sized Mexican businesses were lost in the first decade of NAFTA. Indeed, people on both sides of the Mexican-American border saw a decrease in their wages during the first NAFTA/WTO decade. With the resulting vast pool of unemployed people in desperate need of work, sweat shops on the Mexican side of the border were able to reap a harvest and pay as little as $0.60 to $1.00 per hour. It certainly comes as no surprise, therefore, that 1 in 10 Mexican nationals make the dangerous journey to cross the border into the U.S. NAFTA was clearly a major failure of Bill Clinton and his enabler, Rahm Emanuel. The TPP will be an even bigger disaster if it is implemented.
Read the full article on The Huffington Post.