What is the Trans-Pacific Partnership?
The Biggest Corporate Power Grab You’ve Never Heard Of
A set of 12 countries located around the Pacific Rim — the United States, Canada, Mexico, Peru, Chile, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Japan, and Brunei — are finalizing the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Trade Agreement. This proposed trade agreement is being called the largest in history—the countries involved represent approximately 40 percent of global economic activity.
Although the TPP is presented as a way to increase exports by eliminating trade barriers, the reality is that it goes far beyond input and export tariffs. If passed, it would undermine food safety and public health, threaten the sustainable agriculture movement, decrease U.S. jobs and wages, increase extreme energy extraction, impede the progress of global social justice and favor the interests of corporations over the democratic process.
Why LSP is Involved with TPP
Central to the Land Stewardship Project's work are the values of stewardship, justice, democracy and health. Both the content of the TPP and the process for developing the agreement have major issues that undermine these values.
LSP believes that if we want vibrant local economies and food systems, as well as a healthy environment, then people who are directly concerned with those issues need to have a say. The TPP was negotiated in secret. Only government trade officials and some 600 “corporate advisers” were able to shape the content of the agreement.
One of the most troublesome aspects of TPP is a clause called the “investor state dispute resolution” (sometimes referred to as ISDS). Through this clause, corporations would be granted the legal authority to file a lawsuit against government municipalities if that corporation felt local laws impeded “expected future profits.” The corporate suing mechanism was first passed in the North American Free Trade Agreement. Since 1993, more than 500 cases have been filed by corporations as a result of this mechanism. These cases are then heard by an unelected, unaccountable “trade tribunal” of the World Trade Organization, bypassing US courts and legal system. This clause undermines American democracy and gives multi-national corporations increased power over the rights of US citizens and the well-being of our communities. Any legislation that gives legal priority to the profits of multi-national corporations over the health and safety of the American people has no place in the Unites States.
Status of Fast Track & TPP
In early November 2015, after seven years of closed-door negotiations with the public, press, and policymakers locked out, the final TPP text was released. In chapter after chapter, the final text is worse than expected. In February 2016 President Obama signed the agreement, and now it is up to Congress to vote on whether or not the U.S. will implement TPP.
The leadership in Congress isn’t going to introduce TPP for a vote until they think it will pass. But the path to securing enough votes to pass TPP is a very rocky road. Many members of Congress – both Democrats and Republicans – oppose the TPP and are concerned about the broad array of issues that would be affected from the agreement. It is anticipated that TPP supporters will attempt to force a vote during the Lame Duck session of Congress, after the elections are held in November. This is also how previous trade agreements like NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement, were passed. If the vote isn’t held before our new President is sworn in next winter, then the fate of TPP is even more uncertain – every presidential candidate that is still running for the nomination has publicly criticized or openly rejected TPP.