Secret Trade Treaty Exposed

The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a trade treaty going on in secret.  Trade treaty drafts and negotiations are so secret to even comment on one of these trade deals will cost $2000.  WikiLeaks recently released an excerpt of the secret deal, a feat most amazing they obtained even a portion of the terms.  Thank you WikiLeaks and we hope they obtain more parts of trade treaties being crafted in secret by large multinational corporations in future.  The leak is on intellectual property and it would change the Internet as we know it if enacted.  The Trans-Pacific Partnership trade treaty is referred to as TPP.

Since the beginning of the TPP negotiations, the process of drafting and negotiating the treaty’s chapters has been shrouded in an unprecedented level of secrecy. Access to drafts of the TPP chapters is shielded from the general public. Members of the US Congress are only able to view selected portions of treaty-related documents in highly restrictive conditions and under strict supervision. It has been previously revealed that only three individuals in each TPP nation have access to the full text of the agreement, while 600 ’trade advisers’ – lobbyists guarding the interests of large US corporations such as Chevron, Halliburton, Monsanto and Walmart – are granted privileged access to crucial sections of the treaty text.

The pharmaceutical companies are having a field day, raising drug prices for the entire globe.  They do this through patents and thus monopoly rights on manufacture of the particular drug.  Normally patents expire and this expiration paves the way for generics production of the drug in question.  The document released by Wikileaks shows Big Pharma would be allowed to re-issue patents on drugs where that patent is about to expire, thus extending their monopoly and control of the price of that drug.  Generally speaking patents stop generics from being made and sold and allows Pharmaceutical companies to charge exorbitant prices on drugs where they control manufacture and supply.  Bill Moyers gives an example of a cancer drug and how India bucked multinational pharmaceutical companies on their monopoly by denying a patent extension:

India’s Supreme Court recently upheld a decision to withhold a patent for the cancer drug Glivec. This drug, which sells for as much as $100,000 for a year’s dosage in the United States, is a combination of previously approved drugs. On this basis India refused to award a patent. As a result, Indian patients can get a generic version that costs around $2,000 a year.

The trade agreement patent terms are so outrageous even the AARP is opposing TPP and pointing out the disaster to health care costs this trade agreement would bring.

We write today to express our deep concern that provisions being advanced by the United States Trade Representative (USTR) for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement will undermine this goal by limiting the ability of states and the federal government to moderate escalating prescription drug, biologic drug and medical device costs in public programs. We are also concerned that the final trade agreement will bind the U.S. to a 12-year market exclusivity period for brand-name biologic drugs, contrary to the Administration’s proposal in its most recent and previous budgets to reduce the exclusivity period.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is also warning on TPP and one of the more odious agendas is to make having temporary copies of copyrighted material an illegal offense.  Right now temporary copies are not covered under copyright law.  Every computer, electronic device and even the entire Internet make temporary copies of content to play and display copyrighted material.  Without the ability to make temporary copies the globe would be thrown back to the technological stone age where DOS is the operating system and it takes three minutes to load a single web page.

The TPP is also projected to lose jobs the same as other trade agreements such as NAFTA and the China PNTR.  Claims to the contrary are as usual pure baloney, yet regardless of statistical hard facts, lobbyists will continue to make false claims on what TPP will actually do to the U.S. workforce

The administration is now negotiating a Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) that could include more than a dozen nations in the Asia-Pacific region including Malaysia, Vietnam, Japan, and South Korea. Recently, China said that it was studying the possibility of joining the TPP talks. Many members of the proposed agreement have long histories of currency manipulation, dumping, and other unfair trade practices that have dramatically increased U.S. trade deficits and job losses, and the agreement could sharply curtail the ability of the United States to challenge these practices. The TPP would significantly increase the threat that rapidly growing trade deficits and job losses in the United States would be locked in if the TPP is completed.

This trade deal is so bad, TPP would even decimate what is left of Buy America policies:

The TPP’s procurement chapter would require that all firms operating in any signatory country be provided equal access as domestic firms to U.S. government procurement contracts over a certain dollar threshold. To implement this “national treatment” requirement, the U.S. would agree to waive Buy America procurement policies for all of the firms operating in the TPP countries.

TPP would also allow banks to escape regulation.  Skirting regulation has been ongoing through trade treaties as a general rule.  Public Citizen has often been the lone wolf trying to warn America and monitor trade treaties written by and for multinational corporations, yet regardless of the public outcry bad trade deals just continue and are commonly rubber stamped by Congress.

Yet, there might be a break in Congress to stop the TPP.  Recently 151 Congressional Democrats wrote a letter to Obama on to stop fast track.  Fast track is a provision to sail through Congress trade agreements without giving the legislation body any ability to modify and amend the treaty at all.  Below are some excerpts from their letter to the President:

We write to express our serious concern with the ongoing negotiations over the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Free Trade Agreement (FTA), a potential agreement of tremendous consequence for our country. Specifically, we remain deeply troubled by the continued lack of adequate congressional consultation in many areas of the proposed pact that deeply implicates Congress’ constitutional and domestic policy authorities.

Congress, not the Executive Branch, must determine when an agreement meets the objectives Congress sets in the exercise of its Article I-8 exclusive constitutional authority to set the terms of trade. For instance, an agreement that does not specifically meet congressional negotiating objectives must not receive preferential consideration in Congress.

This paragraph from the letter goes to show just how wide reaching TPP is.

The TPP FTA will include binding obligations that touch upon a wide swath of policy matters under the authority of Congress.

Beyond traditional tariff issues, these include policies related to labor, patent and copyright, land use, food, agriculture and product standards, natural resources, the environment, professional licensing, competition, state-owned enterprises and government procurement policies, as well as financial, healthcare, energy, e-commerce, telecommunications and other service sector regulations.

Some Republicans are also opposing fast track, bringing the tally to 194 Congressional representatives who oppose fast track.  If more Republicans join the chorus we could see the majority of the House of Representatives oppose fast track trade authority.

Fast Track is an extraordinary procedure that has been used 16 times since its establishment in the early 1970s. Hundreds of U.S. trade agreements were implemented without Fast Track, notably including the controversial deal relating to China’s entry into the World Trade Organization in 2000.

Within this article are links to loads of information and analysis on what TPP will do and none of it is good.  Since 1993 with the start of NAFTA, America has just been hammered by these bad trade deals which reduce economic growth, increase the deficit and cost America millions of jobs.  The problem is no matter what kind of facts come out about these trade deals, how many jobs are lost and how much damage they do to the U.S. economy, nothing seems to stop their enactment.  The reason is these trade deals are created, crafted and negotiated by multinational corporations and are primarily for multinational corporations.  Corporations run the globe, not nations.  Even when the vast majority of the people try to stop these bad deals, there are always enough corrupt politicians, including Presidents, to make sure these corporations get exactly what they want, regardless of what it does to a sovereign nation.

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Comments

The TPP and Fast Track authority

Mr. Oak makes some good points regarding IPR in the TPP. Unfortunately this is not just a question of a trade agreements, Congress and administrations both Republican and Democratic have leaned way over too far to protect intellectual property. Where Mr. Oak really gets things wrong is on Fast Track, now called Trade Promotion Authority. The last time Congress was able to amend a tariff bill was the 1930 Smoot-Hawley tariff law. The result was the most protectionist tariff law in our history. There nothing special interests would like more than getting their hands on detailed trade legislation. When they were finished the trade agreement would be unrecognizable. Mr. Oak was wrong with regard to the U.S.-China WTO accession agreement. There was no need for TPA since the only concession made by the U.S. was to give China permanent MFN or as it is called now called Permanent Normal Trade Relations. Hence all Congress had to do was to vote up or down on whether to grant China PNTR. When final trade agreement implementing legislation is presented to Congress it is a not a fait accompli. Congress authorizes trade negotiations as part of TPA legislation and sets out clear negotiating mandates. In addition, Congress is continually briefed and consulted as negotiations move forward. Congress is closely consulted when the proposed implementing legislation is drafted and before it is sent to Congress.

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fallacies promoted

This is simply more excuses for bad trade deals. The reality is on the China PNTR is Fast track, aka TPA, was not in effect when it was passed. Fast Track was reinstated in 2002. The Final trade agreements are indeed fait accompli as in they cannot renegotiate or negotiate elements of these pacts and no, it is very clear from the Congressional letters to the trade representative as well as POTUS, they are not privy to ongoing negotiations to TPP. That is the point of this article, how they are being kept in the dark, along with the American people and Congress is self reporting this (see links).

Not to say that Congress isn't bat shit crazy, but even the implication of "Smoot-Hawley" is suspect for international trade was not enough to impact the national economy back in the 1930's. It was not the cause of the Great depression and the tariffs were not that historically high.

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i admit it

in 1992, one of only 2 presidential elections i have voted in, i pulled the lever for Ross Perot ... i saw his debates with Al Gore and his shtick w/ Larry King ... i suppose i helped elect Clinton ...

in 1994 i graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering and guess what, everything Perot said was going to happen did happen right before my eyes ...

for all his shortcomings when was the last time a billionaire actually cared about the American Worker? You'd be hard pressed to name one today outside of Buffett perhaps.

The american people saw what was coming and 19% of the voters tried to stop it. 2nd highest percentage in US history.

Our mfg base is decimated, an entire generation is entering adulthood with the worst job prospects in 80 years. Free Trade has been absolute destruction for people who sell their time to make a living. It has wiped out the middle class.

Perot was right and history has proven that. It's time to destroy both parties and start from the ground up.

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Ross Perot

He could have won that election with a better campaign and by choosing a VP who was prepared for the national stage. Clinton, just like Obama, gave some campaign promises early on to be against NAFTA and then switched of course, made infamous by Al Gore/Ross Perot debate.

Amazingly enough the press claimed Gore won that debate, which goes to show again how marketing and PR are used to spin and lie and these "elections" are about that, not substance.

In the primaries we wrote many a piece that the better bet for trade was actually Hillary, but needless to say not by much. On healthcare she was miles above Obama. History has proved us right, Obama is a corporate puppet, so many policies are a continuation of the Bush administration, including trade.

In 2008 it was horrifying to see how easily hoodwinked so many people were, they were like in a trance, hypnotized when campaign Obama all pointed to "more of the same".

Warren Buffet sure isn't convincing his billionaire bridge pals to hire Americans and manufacture in America now is he?

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