American resistance to TTP trade pact grows

ScreenHunter_1716 Mar. 18 10.28

By Leith van Onselen

The prospects of concluding the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) – the proposed regional trade deal between 12 Pacific Rim countries, including Australia – look to have taken another hit, with opposition towards the deal in the US continuing to grow.

Late last year, Nobel Prize winning economist, Joseph Stiglitz, posted an open letter questioning negotiators’ secrecy and warning about “grave risks on all sorts of topics” posed by the TPP, as well as claiming that it contains “many of the worst features of the worst laws in the TPP countries, making needed reforms extremely difficult if not impossible”.

In February, Congress refused to grant President Obama “Trade Promotion Authority” (TPA), which would have allowed the President to negotiate the TPP and then bring it back to Congress for an up or down vote, with no amendments allowed, effectively stymieing negotiations, at least until after the mid-term Congressional elections in November. Congress’ decision not to grant TPA was reportedly heavily influenced by protectionist interests within the US – in particular the textile, apparel, dairy and sugar industries – which are bitterly opposed to the TPP.

And later in February, Nobel Prize winning economist, Obama-backer, and international trade expert, Paul Krugman, questioned the merits of the TPP in an Op-Ed piece in the New York Times, arguing that there isn’t a compelling case for the deal either for the US or world as a whole.

What the T.P.P. would do, however, is increase the ability of certain corporations to assert control over intellectual property. Again, think drug patents and movie rights.

Is this a good thing from a global point of view? Doubtful. The kind of property rights we’re talking about here can alternatively be described as legal monopolies. True, temporary monopolies are, in fact, how we reward new ideas; but arguing that we need even more monopolization is very dubious — and has nothing at all to do with classical arguments for free trade.

Yesterday, Nobel Prize winning economist, Joseph Stiglitz, returned to once again slam the TPP, arguing that it would enrich global elites at the expense of the poor and middle class. From the New York Times:

Right now, there are trade proposals in the works that threaten to put most Americans on the wrong side of globalization…

Most immediately at issue is the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP… [where]… negotiations have been taking place in secret, forcing us to rely on leaked drafts to guess at the proposed provisions…

Based on the leaks — and the history of arrangements in past trade pacts — it is easy to infer the shape of the whole TPP, and it doesn’t look good. There is a real risk that it will benefit the wealthiest sliver of the American and global elite at the expense of everyone else. The fact that such a plan is under consideration at all is testament to how deeply inequality reverberates through our economic policies.

…when corporations call for harmonization, what they really mean is a race to the bottom…

What we know of its particulars only makes it more unpalatable. One of the worst is that it allows corporations to seek restitution in an international tribunal, not only for unjust expropriation, but also for alleged diminution of their potential profits as a result of regulation…

There are other noxious provisions. America has been fighting to lower the cost of health care. But the TPP would make the introduction of generic drugs more difficult, and thus raise the price of medicines…

Trickle-down economics is a myth. Enriching corporations — as the TPP would — will not necessarily help those in the middle, let alone those at the bottom.

All this is good news for Australia, in light of the risks posed to Australia’s sovereignty and consumer welfare arising from the TPP. As long as opposition to the TPP within America continues, deadlines will continue to get pushed into the future, and enthusiasm for the TPP amongst the 12 Pacific Rim countries will likely wane, lessening the chance that a deal will eventually be struck.

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7 Responses to “ “American resistance to TTP trade pact grows”

  1. Jason says:

    It’s good to see there is sense at least on one side of the pond.

    Also I would love to see you tackle this UE:

    http://www.smh.com.au/business/bhp-and-rio-tinto-to-be-lent-100-million-by-government-body-20140317-34y3s.html

    EFIC, a government entity exempt from FOI legislation has loaned BHP and Rio $100m to develop a mine in Chile. Astounding.

    • Nudge says:

      Bloody Wonderful!

      Everywhere I look I see SME’s doing it tight. I’m sure they’d love to hear how our taxcollectors help foreign owned global corporates with our money in preference to helping our own…………….. Any jobs created won’t be here either.

      I hope EFIC’s IR chargeout is higher than what they got it for. Likely at the big end of town??

  2. Labrynth says:

    How lucky is Australia. Even when our politicians try to sell us out luck comes along and saves us.

    I fear the day our luck runs out.

  3. poida says:

    yes, good and all but we are currently governed by gormless twats completely blinded by idiology.
    Can anybody here convincingly argue that our Attorney General (is he the prune who signs this potential rubbish into law? I have no idea..) will do anything other than what he is told by the Americans and the interests of “free trade”.

    Free trade for who? This is the question. Who gets the freedom to do what they like? Who looses the freedom to protect their interests?

    This should be debated in the mainstream media
    prior to any decision. But it won’t since the TPP clearly hugely against our interests.

  4. elastic says:

    Thank goodness there are voices speaking out on this from the US because it would appear our corporate run government would be happy to push this through without a second thought.

  5. TheJoneses says:

    A disturbing fact that highlights whats at stake.
    The man Obama appointed as key TPP negotiator , Robert Holleyman, was a major lobbyist for the SOPA (stop online piracy act).

    Now connect the dots ….

  6. glissom says:

    Don’t relax yet. This treaty is bad for every government involved. It is written by and for Hollywood and other US based global business.

    Obama isn’t pushing this because it’s good for America. And if it fails there his masters will still want as much of the legislation passed elsewhere as possible.

    So if Obama comes to Tony and tells him that passing some laws that look a lot like bits of the TPP will improve relations, closer military ties etc. What is Tony going to do?