THE TRANS-PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP: CORPORATE POWER GRAB Part 2

With the full text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) treaty now available, groups espousing environmental and workers’ interests state that the actual text is even worse than what they had expected. Environmental groups note that climate change is not even mentioned in the treaty. Workers’ groups note that the TPP will continue the experience under past treaties of US jobs moving overseas to lower wage countries and, therefore, reducing jobs and wages here in the US. This pattern will continue to undermine the middle class. Furthermore, on issues ranging from access to affordable medicines to the open Internet to food safety and labeling (e.g., country of origin and presence of genetically modified organisms [GMOs]), the TPP furthers corporate interests while undermining the interests of the public. [1]

Labor and environmental groups also note that there is no dispute resolution process focused on workers’ rights or environmental protection that parallels the Investor-State Dispute Resolution (ISDS) tribunals for multi-national corporations. If a state or country tries, for example, to ban or limit fracking or stop a coal mine, the fossil fuel corporation can sue the state or national government in the ISDS tribunal to overturn the action or get compensation. There is no similar mechanism for protecting workers or the environment.

The TPP also provides unjustified expansions of intellectual property protections in ways that benefit corporations. It extends and expands patents on drugs so that it will be longer before cheaper, generic versions of drugs are on the market and so that it will be harder for health care insurers to negotiate lower drug prices with the pharmaceutical corporations.

It requires Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to protect copyrights on corporate products such as movies and music. The TPP threatens ISPs with substantial penalties if they fail to shut down or remove protected content from a website that shares copyrighted material. Therefore, ISPs are likely to act in favor corporate copyright holders as soon as a copyright violation is alleged. [2]

The fact that the TPP enshrines corporate power is not a surprise. Corporate executives have been involved in the negotiating process from the beginning while everyone else was locked out. Furthermore, the process of drafting the TPP and now of approving it has been the target of substantial lobbying by multi-national corporations. Over the eight years of negotiations, 487 clients paid lobbyists to meet with or contact lawmakers and administration officials to discuss the TPP. Clients who reported lobbying on the TPP accounted for nearly thirty percent of all reported lobbying expenditures. The TPP has been mentioned 4,875 times in lobbying reports since 2008, when the US began negotiations. Corporations and other groups, such as the US Chamber of Commerce, paid lobbyists $2.6 billion during this period, although that figure includes lobbying expenditures on other issues listed along with the TPP on lobbying reports. The lobbying increased each year as the negotiations continued. Just two organizations mentioned the TPP in their 2008 lobbying reports but that number exploded to 1,317 in 2014. [3]

In a future post, I’ll discuss TPP’s failure to address currency manipulation and its ineffectiveness as a geopolitical response to the growing power of China.

[1]       Fulton, D., 11/5/15, “’Worse than we thought’: TPP a total corporate power grab nightmare,” Common Dreams (http://www.commondreams.org/news/2015/11/05/worse-we-thought-tpp-total-corporate-power-grab-nightmare)

[2]       Popular Resistance Newsletter, 11/8/15, “The secretly negotiated TPP will impact your life in many ways; together we can stop it,” (https://www.popularresistance.org/newsletter-10-shocking-realities-of-the-tpp-join-the-revolt/)

[3]       Tucker, W., 10/6/15, “Millions spent by 487 organizations to influence TPP outcome,” Center for Responsive Politics (http://www.opensecrets.org/news/2015/10/millions-spent-by-487-organizations-to-influence-tpp-outcome/?utm_source=CRP+Mail+List&utm_campaign=3570922ae8-Newsletter_9_24_15&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_9df8578d78-3570922ae8-210762457)

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