The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is secretive pact between the US and 11 other countries that would give multinational corporations new powers to override national sovereignty and violate people’s rights. Now Congress and President Obama are trying to pass it during the post-election “lame duck” session.
They call it “free trade,” but only a small fraction of the TPP’s 5,544 pages actually deal with trade issues like tariffs and quotas. The rest of the text is packed with special-interest handouts and new ways for multinationals to challenge democratically-passed policies.
At the heart of the TPP is the creation of a new tribunal system that multinational corporations could use to win taxpayer-funded compensation from TPP countries that pass laws or regulations that they believe limit their potential for profits. These tribunals would be decided by private lawyers who would be allowed to rotate between serving as arbitration judges and working as advisors to the corporations bringing the cases to the tribunal.
And then there are thousands of pages of provisions straight from the wish lists of special interests that weren’t able to get their policies passed through the regular legislative process. These provisions threaten good-paying jobs, Internet freedom, access to medicine, environmental protections, public health, and much more.
For example, SOPA, the web censorship bill that was defeated by the historic Internet blackout protest, has been resurrected in the TPP. Other anti-democratic “zombie” proposals in the TPP include limits on competition for pharmaceutical companies, increased fracking through automatic approval of gas exports, and lower food safety standards in the US by allowing big food companies to import meat and seafood from countries with lenient inspection practices.
The TPP was written in secret by corporate lobbyists and government officials, and no public-interest groups, academics, or policy experts without industry ties were allowed to participate in the process.
The people working on the deal say they needed to keep the details secret (from everyone except the lobbyists that were let in) so they didn’t undercut their negotiators.
We get that. But if reaching a deal requires undermining national sovereignty and giving special interests a plethora of policies that have already been rejected through the representative lawmaking process, we don’t want it.