The Trans-Pacific Partnership

The TPP is a bad deal for working people

 Ailey O’Toole
  Staff Writer

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a proposed trade agreement involving 12 Pacific Rim countries that is concerned with regulations, such as lower tariffs and investor-state dispute settlement mechanisms.

This agreement was officially reached on Oct. 5 after 5 years of debate. The 12 countries involved are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the U.S. and Vietnam. The goal of the TPP is reported to be to “enhance trade and investment among the TPP partner countries, to promote innovation, economic growth and development, and to support the creation and retention of jobs.”

Chapters in the trade agreement include competition, cross-border services, customs, e-commerce, environment, financial services, government procurement, market access for goods, sanitary standards, technical barriers to trade and trade remedies.

A major point of contention regarding the trade agreement is how all of the negotiations have taken place behind closed doors; the public is not involved in any way and we are all being kept in the dark.

Six-hundred corporate “advisors” are in the know but not the people or the media. Celeste Drake, a trade and globalization policy specialist from the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations, explained in an interview that “Part of the problem is we don’t know how much we don’t know.”

We, as American citizens, should also be concerned about how the intellectual property law regulations will affect our daily lives.

Photo courtesy of DonkeyHotey/flickr

Photo courtesy of DonkeyHotey/flickr

Those in favor of the TPP see it as a huge leap toward the creation of a global government in this “New World Order.” Those of us intelligent enough to see it for what it is, however, consider it a powerful tool for the one percent. This agreement, essentially, abolishes the accountability of foreign corporations to governments in countries with which they trade.

The TPP also gives corporations the right to force governments pay them for the cost of complying with the regulations of government. How long can environmental, labor and financial regulations survive when compliance costs are forced onto the taxpayers of those countries and not on the economic activity that results in spillover effects, like pollution? The real result of the TPP is a global privilege for the corporate class to be immune to government regulation.

Michael Wessel, one of the advisors asked by the American government to review the document, said that most of the TPP does nothing for Americans.

“This is about increasing the ability of global corporations to source wherever they can at the lowest cost,” Wessel said.

Celeste Drake, the aforementioned AFL-CIO specialist, likened the TPP to past American trade policy, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) or even the more recent Korea Free Trade Agreement. Then, she was asked who would be the winners and who would be the losers of this partnership; she responded by saying, “In those agreements, the big winners are the multinational US corporations…Many workers found that they lost their jobs or that their wages were suppressed.”

On Nov. 13, 2013, the “Advanced Intellectual Property Chapter for All 12 Nations with Negotiating Positions” chapter of the TPP was leaked on Wikileaks. The chapter gives signatory countries the power to stop “embarrassing” information from going public by giving the governments the ability to inhibit legal proceedings if the stolen information is “detrimental to a party’s economic interests, international relations, or national defense or national security.”

In other words, if a trial would potentially cause the information to spread further.

Evan Greer, the campaign director of an internet activist group called Fight for the Future explained that, “The text of the TPP’s intellectual property chapter confirms advocates warnings that this deal poses a grave threat to global freedom of expression and basic access to things like medicine and information.”

Greer also voiced a universal concern about the state of affairs concerning basic human rights in America: “But the sad part is that no one should be surprised by this. It should have been obvious to anyone observing the process, where appointed government bureaucrats and monopolistic companies were given more access to the text than elected officials and journalists, that this would be the result.”

The intellectual property chapter also includes rules that state that each country in the agreement has the right to force anyone accused of violating intellectual property laws to provide “relevant information… that the infringer or alleged infringer possesses or controls” as provided for in that country’s own laws.

Furthermore, every country would have the authority to immediately release the name and address of anyone importing detained goods to the person who owns the intellectual property.

With this information on hand, it is incredulous that anyone could want Congress to get on board with the agreement. It seems to be just another case of the rich getting richer by continuing to take advantage of the poor who are getting poorer, a cycle that is happening around every corner in America.

As a college student who is already struggling to make ends meet, I am not really interested in supporting a “partnership” that is going to funnel more money into corporations that already have so much, while simultaneously taking away my intellectual property rights.

I hope everyone reading this can see the agreement for what it truly is and can understand why Congress should not be supporting it.

 Backbone Campaign/flickr

Backbone Campaign/flickr

TPP is a positive force for the global economy

Adam Griffin
  Staff writer

The principle of free trade involves the tariff-free passage of imports and exports between states in the international system; when states don’t subscribe to this philosophy, they revert to the age-old standard of protectionism, which includes tariffs on imports or subsidies to exports.

These mechanisms are meant to encourage homegrown manufacturing, but ultimately make commodities harder to get or more expensive for consumers. On top of that, protectionist policies prop up inefficient industries at the behest of the domestic consumer.

Adam Smith illustrated this principle of free trade in 1776 by writing, “It is the maxim of every prudent master of a family, never to attempt to make at home what it will cost him more to make than to buy… If a foreign country can supply us with a commodity cheaper than we ourselves can make it, better buy it of them with some part of the produce of our own industry, employed in a way in which we have some advantage.”

Free Trade, as a principle, is beneficial for everyone; this includes the nation, industry and the people because it drives goods to the lowest possible cost for the consumer and improves the quality of products by imposing the fewest amount of barriers and restrictions to innovation and production.

The official website for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) describes the treaty for Americans in this way: “[the TPP] writes the rules for global trade — rules that will help increase Made-in-America exports, grow the American economy, support well-paying American jobs, and strengthen the American middle class.”

There are twelve participating countries including the U.S. — Australia, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Vietnam, Chile, Brunei, Singapore, and New Zealand. This treaty would be a companion agreement to the similar Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the U.S. and the European Union.

These agreements are part of an idealism that has existed in America since our founding, which simply communicates that the global community should use free trade as a vehicle for peace and prosperity.

The TPP advertises to cut over 18,000 taxes and trade barriers placed on American exports to TPP-partnering countries, which would undeniably make exporting American-made goods more profitable.

Photo courtesy of DonkeyHotey/flickr

Photo courtesy of DonkeyHotey/flickr

Another benefit of the agreement is that it writes a concrete set of rules to govern trade and commerce. This will limit confusion and competing interpretations by global industries; furthermore, it prevents individual countries from creating an anti-business regulatory climate that can slow down economic growth in competing economies.

TPP embodies American values, such as economic equality and fair play in global markets, as well as better conditions for workers and safer products.

Additionally, it affords American small businesses the opportunity to compete in global markets, which have been heretofore cut off from them. And to ensure that both countries and businesses are abiding by the terms of the agreement in a responsible manner, there are enforceable environmental commitments to promote preservation — this feature is unlike unique to any trade agreement in history.

The agreement has been criticized for closed negotiations, its expansive scope and some controversial leaks. It appears that opposition is limited and more generally not based on its actual details but on speculation around unknowns.

Some particular industries and big businesses are not in favor of the free trade agreement because it opens up the market to new competition.

Although the specifics of the agreement are not public, it is clearly going to be modeled on previous free trade agreements that lean on consistent economic deregulation of global markets. And the secrecy that took place during the negotiations was critical, because it allowed the participating countries to discuss their positions openly, without fear of having their words or proposals used against them in a public forum.

Yet, it is vital that the agreement eventually shows progress in addressing the protection of intellectual property, which is necessary for true and effective free trade.

Nevertheless, free Trade reduces barriers and creates greater access to prosperity. It also efficiently opens American goods to foreign markets, emphasizes transparency in a transnational fashion, and minimizes government interference in the private marketplace.

And, it must be noted, the TPP is going to be a boon for developing countries in Asia.

In the past, tariffs and protectionism were considered necessary for new governments and economies that were growing. Today, however, free trade is just as essential for developing nations as much as developed nations because it provides them with wealthy markets in which to sell their goods. Also, it introduces the latest and most innovative technologies that can maximize productivity and increase standards of living.

In the modern world, free trade is opening new technologies that will allow these young countries to rise up to the same level as their fellow developed nations.

Through this mechanism, free trade is not only a policy that is best for America, but a positive tool that can help developing countries rise out of poverty and into prosperity.

Categories: Columns, Opinions

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