The Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal passed another important hurdle today — a final deal between the twelve nations was struck, with the only remaining obstacles being passage in legislatures. No amendments can be made, rather Congress can only thoroughly approve it or disapprove it, such was the result of Congress voting to fast-track the trade pact this summer. Much now rests on the success of the people to organize and show that we understand the harm that this trade deal will do to the workers of the world and that we will know to vote out of Congress those representatives who pass the TPP.
The negotiations have been keep secret but leaks reported in the Guardian tell that with the United States pushing hard for property rights protections for pharmaceuticals for twelve years, and Australia and five other nations pushing for such protections for only five years in order to not strain national health care budgets or deny life-saving medicine to those who cannot afford it, there will be a two-tier system, with some drugs being protected for eight years and others for five. The leaks did not disclose how it would be determined which stream a drug would run through, whether judged just by the expense of development, or the talents of lobbyists.
Some chapters of the deal or summaries of those chapters have been leaked. While President Obama has said that this would be the most progressive trade deal in history for its environmental protections the summaries have made it clear that compliance with the environmental objectives are voluntary. The major protections that the TPP provides are to corporate profits by allowing for ‘Investor State Dispute Settlements’ wherein corporations and multinationals sue governments for passing regulations that cut into their profits, like oil companies did through NAFTA ISDS tribunals when governments sought to divest from oil. As the economist Robert Reich puts it, “the TPP is a Trojan horse in a global race to the bottom, giving big corporations and Wall Street banks a way to eliminate any and all laws and regulations that get in the way of their profits.”