Enslaved through trade, That seems to be the agenda with trade agreements these days. Over and over again national law, the common good is overwritten through bad trade deals. Wikileaks has exposed yet another horror from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement being negotiated. It seems freedom loving, Democratic United States is leading the charge to ensure life saving drugs are not affordable for most people.
The latest leaked version of the draft text shows the United States pushing for measures that would significantly constrain affordable access to vital generic drugs, such as cancer drugs and treatments for communicable diseases such as Ebola.
Just two weeks ago, 60 Minutes did an expose on how cancer drugs cost over $100,000 per year. You might survive cancer but only if you can come up with the cash. Already trade watchdog groups are weighing in on this latest outrage.
The leak shows our government demanding rules that would lead to preventable suffering and death in Pacific Rim countries, while eliminating opportunities to ease financial hardship on American families and our health programs at home,
Below is the Public Citizen synopsis on the leaked TPP intellectual property draft. Yes, you read that right, corporations are out to patent plants. The hits just keep on coming and many national laws, like net neutrality for example, are defeated through trade deals by circumventing sovereign states' law as a barrier to trade. In other words, corporations and their bought and paid for government representatives negotiate, in secret, ways to get around national law and stuff those ways in trade agreements, which corrupt government officials then pass.
- A measure that could expand online service provider surveillance of Internet users’ activity, including in the United States;
- A rule to require the patenting of plant-related inventions, such as the genes inserted into genetically modified plants, putting farmers in developing countries at the mercy of the agriculture industry, including seed manufacturers such as Monsanto, and threatening food security in these countries more broadly;
- Proposals for mitigating the pact’s harms to access to medicines in developing countries, none of which will suffice;
- The elimination of proposals for patents on surgical methods;
- A reduction in scope of other proposed monopoly protections for the pharmaceutical industry; and
- The expected failure of a thinly veiled U.S. attack on an India-style pro-competition patent law, which facilitates access to medicines.
Even Forbes noticed TPP has even harsher copyright rules.
The US has all along wished to introduce features of the controversial Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), such as compelling ISPs to alert customers who are accused of illegal downloads and, possibly, take the infringing material down. If they failed to do so, they would themselves be liable for any copyright infringement by their customers.
But the latest draft goes even further: the US wants to see these rules covering not just ISPs, but anyone providing internet services. And, as Alberto Cerda of Georgetown University Law Center points out to TorrentFreak, this means that coffee shops could potentially be held liable for copyright infringement by their customers.
Meanwhile, the copyright itself could be enforced for longer. While the previously-leaked draft showed that some countries were proposing flexibility on copyright terms, it seems that all are now agreed that there should be a universal minimum term, whether life-plus-50-years, life-plus-70 or life-plus-100.
The Guardian also amplified some of the circumenting of whistle blowers law by expanding the scope of trade secrets:
The US is pushing for criminal procedures and penalties for the disclosure of trade secrets in the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Such provisions could impact upon not only corporate espionage, but the work of journalists, media organisations, information technology activists, and whistleblowers.
Be warned, the Financial Times is already implying this bad trade deal would be smooth sailing if Republicans take the Senate.
The reality is that both deals need a trade-friendly Congress to go ahead and the hope is a Republican majority in the Senate may just give them that.
Mr Obama’s push in January for the congressional “fast-track” authority he technically needs to negotiate trade agreements ran headlong into the Senate’s top Democrat, Harry Reid, and has been stalled all year.
Since then, senior Democrats have made warmer noises about the prospects of granting the president what is formally called “trade promotion authority” in the event they hang on to the Senate. But the uncomfortable truth, even Democratic insiders concede quietly, is that Mr Obama’s trade agenda may be in safer hands if Republicans end up controlling the Senate.
Few in Washington expect any action on trade in the so-called “lame-duck” sessions of Congress immediately after the election. But, behind closed doors, Republicans on Capitol Hill say a new Senate that they control would likely grant Mr Obama trade promotion authority as soon as the first quarter of next year.
This site summed it up. TPP is about enabling corporations to sue sovereign states for profits.
In the TPP, corporations are called “investor states” with their own set of rules. “Investor-state” provisions allow corporations to sue governments over local laws that might hinder their profits.
Passing bad trade deals written by and for multinational corporations has been going on since NAFTA. No amount of public outcry has managed to stop these deals. That does not mean people should give up, but more evidence of what societies are up against and how corporations run the globe.