Wednesday, September 7, 2011

In These Times: Unions and Farmers—Plus Ben & Jerry—Unite Against Trans-Pacific Trade Deal

"Unions and Farmers—Plus Ben & Jerry—Unite Against Trans-Pacific Trade Deal":
...After the failure of post-NAFTA negotiations by the Clinton administration to create new trading blocs for Asia and the Pacific and for the Americas, the Bush administration attempted to expand both the geographic and policy scope of an emerging Asian-Pacific partnership. For now it includes the US, Australia, New Zealand, Peru, Chile, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore, but it could be designed to add more countries in the future, even China.

Obama, who had campaigned for a new style of trade agreement, delayed action on the Bush-proposed talks, but by late 2009 he embraced the project and the old paradigm. Although the new text is not publicly available (even though corporate trade lawyers get access), critics—who have surreptitiously seen parts of the text—say it largely follows the NAFTA, corporate-rights model.

But it seems that the Trans-Pacific Free Trade Agreement not only is running into broad-based opposition, including from many businesses without Ben & Jerry’s high-profile social consciousness as well as unions, environmentalists and many other progressive groups. It also faces numerous internal conflicts and contradictions, argues Public Citizen Global Trade Watch director Lori Wallach...
More info and insights from Michele Chen: "Labor Day Showdown: Can Advocates Stop ‘NAFTA of the Pacific’?":
...The provisions of the Trans-Pacific Free Trade Agreement or Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) are still under wraps. But the general outline seems to mimic the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and similar pacts that have brought political and economic turmoil to rich and poor countries alike. The new negotiations are also taking place amid political friction over pending trade deals with South Korea and Colombia, which have run into opposition over concerns about labor abuses abroad and offshoring of U.S. jobs. Yet the White House continues to push free trade as a path toward the country’s economic revitalization...

Manuel Perez-Rocha, an analyst with the D.C.-based think tank Institute for Policy Studies, says that free trade deals tend to use “investment” and “growth” as a pretext for ruthless exploitation. The agreements “push wages lower and dislocate production with the ensuing loss of jobs,” says Perez-Rocha, adding that “the prospects for the TPP are very bleak and workers everywhere must resist it."

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