There is certainly a divide over the Trans-Pacific Partnership or TPP between Obama, Sen. Sanders, Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, the American public, and political parties. Here is what TPP is. From Truthout:
The TPP is one of the largest and also one of the most controversial trade deals; it connects the US to Japan, Brunei, Chile, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Mexico, Vietnam, Canada, Singapore and Peru. The trade deal is deeply criticized because it could increase the gap of economic inequality.
The 12 member nations that signed the trade deal account for 40 percent of the world economy. The pact allows more trade flexibility in nations that are ruled by strict state-driven laws and poor working conditions. But opponents of the TPP have underlined human rights, environmental and sovereignty concerns around the agreement.
However, TPP deal is negotiated largely in secret:
The TPP claims to write “the rules for global trade,” but its negotiation process has largely been carried out in secret. Raising questionson the confidentiality of TPP, Sanders says, “If TPP was such a good deal for America, the administration should have the courage to show the American people exactly what is in this deal, instead of keeping the content of the TPP a secret.”
While the TPP benefits are mentioned broadly on the website, a leaked classified document posted by WikiLeakshighlights intellectual property concerns. The classified document observes that under the TPP deal, foreign firms will be allowed to “sue” governments for “unlimited compensation.” Such arrangements could raise environmental and legal issues, leading to a conflict between domestic and international interests. Moreover, once adopted, TPP cannot be reversed or amended without the approval of all of its 12 member nations.
The TPP Investment Chapter, published today, is dated 20 January 2015. The document is classified and supposed to be kept secret for four years after the entry into force of the TPP agreement or, if no agreement is reached, for four years from the close of the negotiations.
Julian Assange, WikiLeaks editor said: “The TPP has developed in secret an unaccountable supranational court for multinationals to sue states. This system is a challenge to parliamentary and judicial sovereignty. Similar tribunals have already been shown to chill the adoption of sane environmental protection, public health and public transport policies.”
Current TPP negotiation member states are the United States, Japan, Mexico, Canada, Australia, Malaysia, Chile, Singapore, Peru, Vietnam, New Zealand and Brunei. The TPP is the largest economic treaty in history, including countries that represent more than 40 per cent of the world´s GDP.
The Investment Chapter highlights the intent of the TPP negotiating parties, led by the United States, to increase the power of global corporations by creating a supra-national court, or tribunal, where foreign firms can “sue” states and obtain taxpayer compensation for “expected future profits”. These investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) tribunals are designed to overrule the national court systems. ISDS tribunals introduce a mechanism by which multinational corporations can force governments to pay compensation if the tribunal states that a country’s laws or policies affect the company’s claimed future profits. In return, states hope that multinationals will invest more. Similar mechanisms have already been used. For example, US tobacco company Phillip Morris used one such tribunal to sue Australia (June 2011 – ongoing) for mandating plain packaging of tobacco products on public health grounds; and by the oil giant Chevron against Ecuador in an attempt to evade a multi-billion-dollar compensation ruling for polluting the environment. The threat of future lawsuits chilled environmental and other legislation in Canada after it was sued by pesticide companies in 2008/9. ISDS tribunals are often held in secret, have no appeal mechanism, do not subordinate themselves to human rights laws or the public interest, and have few means by which other affected parties can make representations.
The TPP negotiations have been ongoing in secrecy for five years and are now in their final stages. In the United States the Obama administration plans to “fast-track” the treaty through Congress without the ability of elected officials to discuss or vote on individual measures. This has met growing opposition as a result of increased public scrutiny following WikiLeaks’ earlier releases of documents from the negotiations.
The TPP is set to be the forerunner to an equally secret agreement between the US and EU, the TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership).
Negotiations for the TTIP were initiated by the Obama administration in January 2013. Combined, the TPP and TTIP will cover more than 60 per cent of global GDP. The third treaty of the same kind, also negotiated in secrecy is TISA, on trade in services, including the financial and health sectors. It covers 50 countries, including the US and all EU countries. WikiLeaks released the secret draft text of the TISA’s financial annex in June 2014.