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OPP calls for end to TPP negotiations, No Fast Track Authority for President
Submitted by DavidDelk on Wed, 01/07/2015 - 00:16
OPP calls for end to negotiations of more NAFTA-style trade agreements and no Fast Track Authority for the President
President Obama has asked for Fast Track Authority to ram more NAFTA-style corporate trade deals through Congress in 2015. Fast Track Authority and these agreements (WTO, NAFTA, CAFTA, US-So Korea, US-Columbia, US-Israel, etc.) are further manifestation of the continuing corporate assualt on democracy, the People and the environment. These agreements have historically lead to increased trade deficits, job loss, attacks on the environment, declining public health, increasing income and wealth inequalities, and suits by foreign corporations against national governments to negate beneficial changes in public policy, regulations and laws.
While these agreements have resulted in job and environmental losses, Americans have received a flow of cheaply made goods manufactured aboard with little concern for the labor or environmental consequences. Those goods, formerly manufactured in the US, represent low-paid labor input and an ever increasing carbon footprint caused by the long shipping distances. The United States is increasingly becoming the natural resources source for manufacturing in off-shore plants, so the shipping has to go both ways.
So, when the President and his largely Republican and corporate-friendly Democratic party allies in Congress now talk about making passage of Fast Track Authority and the Trans Pacific Partnership the number one area of cooperation in the new Congress, we must demand that the President stop negotiating these new agreements and that Congress not grant him Fast Track Authority.
Oregon Progressive Party calls on Senator Wyden and Oregon's Congressional delegation to
* oppose additional corporate trade agreements like the Trans Pacific Partnership
* oppose Fast Track Authority for the President
* support a new trade negotiating framework for the 21st century
Five years ago, President Obama started negotiations for a new corporate trade agreement, the Trans Pacific Partnership ("TPP"). President Obama had promised during his first presidential campaign that he would review all the existing “free” trade agreements with an eye toward renegotiating them in order to make them fairer to labor and less harmful to the environment. However, he has done just the opposite.
First, he sent to Congress three such agreements which had been negotiated by President George W. Bush: agreements with Panama, Columbia and South Korea. These agreements had been “pocketed” by Bush, who knew that they would not receive Congressional approval. President Obama nonetheless did present them and they were approved by Congress.
And then he began secret negotiations on the TPP, an agreement with 11 other Pacific Rim nations, including Vietnam (a nation where workers are paid 58 cents/hour) and Brunei (a nation ruled by Sharia law and having one of the worst human rights records in the world) . The TPP would cover 40% of the world's economy and be the world's first "dockable" corporate trade agreement - other nations would be able to add themselves to the agreement later. All agreements to this point have been limited to just those nations which had negotiated them. So it becomes that much more important that the TPP be negotiated in public, with wide participation,instead of in secret, as it could be THE trade agreement for the 21st century and for the world.
Instead of being negotiated publicly, the TPP has been negotiated in more secrecy than any other agreement. The only people included in the negotiations have been approximately 600 corporate lobbyists who have well looked after their own interests. Not even members of Congress have been able to see the negotiating text until very recently and then only under very controlled circumstances and only after being sworn to secrecy. What the public has been able to learn has resulted from leaked documents provided by WikiLeaks.
These documents reveal an agreement which looks like NAFTA on Steroids. The Environmental chapter has no environmental standards; only a wish that the negotiating nations should adapt rules to lower carbon admissions, and then with no enforcing mechanism so that they actually follow their own rules. The Intellectual Properties provisions regarding medicines was clearly a wish list from the American pharmaceutical industry, with increased patent lengths, allowance of greenwashing, and extension of patents to medical procedures and more. Any efforts to create single payer health care systems in America or elsewhere would be next to impossible. A free and open internet would be seriously in jeopardy. Financial regulations such as those put in place following the Great Recession would be challenged and likely found in violation.
The Oregon Progressive Party calls for the President to stop negotiations immediately. Further we call for a release of all negotiating text, so that the American people can know what was being negotiatied in our name.
The President has called for Fast Track Authority (FTA) in negotiating and approving this and other agreements (The US is currently also negotiating a corporate trade agreement with Europe and is moving forward on a 50 nation Trade in Services Agreement (TISA).) With FTA, Congress abandons it's constitutionally required responsibility to negotiate trade to the executive branch, allowing the executive to decide what agreement to negotiate and with whom to negotiate, to sign the agreement before presentation to Congress, to decide when the agreement should be presented and then to allow Congress only a limited time to debate the agreement with no opportunity to amend. In other words, to essentially cede all influence over trade to the executive branch.
Senator Wyden had refused to allow a proposed Fast Track Authority bill to move forward for Senate consideration a year ago. Now, however, he is working with Republican Senator Hatch on a revised Fast Track Authority bill with some minor tweaks. But minor tweaks regarding enforcement mechanisms will not make the whole process democratic and constitutional.
The Oregon Progressive Party calls on Senator Wyden to cease working with the President and the Republicans in Congress for a revised Fast Track Authority. Instead, Senator Wyden should be working for a new negotiating framework which allows Congress to fulfill its constitutionally required responsibility to negotiate America's trade relationships. Such a framework would be consistent with the letter of September 10, 2014, addressed to Senator Wyden and signed by some 600 organizations, including the Oregon Progressive Party.