First, a huge thank you to LakeSuperior for his post this afternoon Heads Up - Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement to alert Kossacks to the opening up of public comments on the Environmental aspects of the TPP. Since he doesn't have the time to track this secretly negotiated trade deal, I sort of ended up volunteering myself and my knowledge of it. Which, really is pretty limited to only the leaked documents the 'netizens have managed to scrounge up. They've been nicely compiled for general perusal however at:
Citizens.org (this site has some great analyses documents/charts to explore too)
Follow along below the squiggly (is there a technical term for that thing btw?) after digesting all that information. And let me apologize now for the length of this diary, but there's a lot of information to go through for everyone to make heads or tails of this thing!
There's many parts to the TPP, but to date, and general knowledge, there are only 5 sections that deal with actual trade. The rest of the sections vary from Pharmaceuticals, to Copyright and extensions, to ISP's as intermediary internet police forces for copyright. There are purportedly 20-25 sections of the TPP in all, and we are finally being given a glimpse of the Environmental side by our US Trade Representative and asked to publicly comment on it.
I printed out the entire Environmental portion today to take a look over it to see what could be seen and report on that aspect as it's the only bit that's not already been out there. We can always go over the parts that are out there at a later time.
After going through 89 pages of charts, explanations, and lots of things I never knew about our trade partners (did anyone know that Australia is the largest inhabited area that is the driest?), I finally managed to start putting together the simple parts that would make sense to everyone.
First, let's list out the countries involved and their current trade status with the US starting with current FTA's:
Australia, Canada, Chile, Mexico, Peru and Singapore.
Brunei, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand and Vietnam.
At first glance, we already have FTA's with the first 6, so why do we need to include them with the other 5? That's the first warning bell in my head. Especially when considering that all of these countries essentially do have some trade between them already, so the TPP isn't going to facilitate further trade with them on the face of it. I think about this especially from a stance of being good for the United States and the potential impact on those countries themselves. For example, our FTA with Korea helps them out with aquaculture which is vastly needed for their fish hungry population.
So what is really the point of the entire TPP? I started reading the US objectives and this bit really stuck out at me:
The Administration has developed negotiating objectives for the TPP in close consultation with Congress and stakeholders. The specific objectives for negotiations with the TPP countries are as follows:Well, that's a pretty bold lie since Congress is basically in the dark, and has been asking repeatedly for transparency on this trade deal:
Now we get to the objectives of this so called "awesome" trade deal. The first objective is pretty innocuous, but when you get down to the last 4, these are guaranteed written primarily for corporations, and you can probably guess which ones had a big hand in them:
- Seek to eliminate non-tariff barriers to U.S. exports, including permit and licensing barriers on agricultural and other products, restrictive administration of tariff-rate quotas, unjustified trade restrictions that affect new U.S. technologies, including biotechnology, and other trade-restrictive measures.I'm pretty sure we can now all figure out which new markets will be exploited for their cheap labor for textile and apparel products without tarriffs attached (average of 6.5% for Malaysia). I'd bet my new Harley (yeah, sorry, I'm a biker mom) that the "bona fide" food aid is a direct nod to Monsanto. And well, take your pick of Apple, MicroSoft, etc., for the other two objectives. Did I fail to mention that Malaysia also has state-owned enterprises in oil, gas, steel, telecommunications, utilities, automotive and mining?
- Seek to discipline state trading enterprises, state-owned enterprises and designated monopolies, as appropriate, to enhance transparency and eliminate market distortions.
- Pursue a mechanism that will support achieving the U.S. objective in the WTO negotiations of eliminating all export subsidies on agricultural products, while maintaining the right to provide bona fide food aid and preserving U.S. agricultural market development and export credit programs.
- Obtain fully reciprocal access to TPP country markets for U.S. textile and apparel products.
I won't even hit the Intellectual Property Rights area, as that's a whole different diary for another day, but if you want a quick preview, read the EFF's take on it.
There's a whole bunch more that's after IP Rights, but I'll skip down to where my alarm bells start going off again. Under the Competition and Trade Remedies respectively:
- Seek new disciplines that mitigate the problems associated with unfair competition from state-owned enterprises.So, in other words, hey we're gonna flood your market with our goods, but you better not even threaten our domestic product with your imports! Oh, and those lovely state-owned enterprises in Malaysia? Sorry, but free market needs to take over because, well, we say so! The second one will be really apparent in a bit here as we go into the actual Environmental affects this thing states for our wonderful country.
- Provide a safeguard mechanism during a transition period to allow a temporary revocation of tariff preferences, if increased imports from the TPP countries are a substantial cause of serious injury or threat of serious injury to the domestic industry.
Now I've moved on down to Section III.B (page 32 if anyone is really following along), and we discover the lovely Peterson Institute has done an economic analysis for this! Yes, that Peterson, Peter G. Peterson! According to his report, "This study estimated that by 2025 U.S. global exports of goods and services would be 4.4% higher with TPP than without TPP. If we apply the study's analysis to U.S. global goods and services exports in 2012, the additional exports to the world due to TPP would represent 0.6% of U.S. production (a substantial share of which would be in services which generally are less likely than goods production to have adverse environmental impacts)."
So what are the environmental impacts then if we're only going to push our exports out by just over a half percentage point?
Specific issues identified for further analysis include the potential for increased trade to contribute to: localized environmental impacts at selected U.S. maritime ports; increased risk of introduction of invasive species; and potential environmental impacts due to increased domestic liquefied natural gas production driven by prospective TPP trade.Wait, whoa, what? Liquefied natural gas production? Yes, that's right, that's where our new "jobs" will come from... fracking!
Increased U.S. production and exports of LNG are expected to contribute to job creation and economic growth in the United States. Some stakeholders are concerned that liberalized trade in LNG under the TPP could potentially contribute to increased domestic natural gas production, with related environmental risks, including those associated with unconventional gas extraction techniques, such as hydraulic fracturing. Other stakeholders have expressed concerns that investment in exporting LNG will diminish investment in renewable energy.Well, I guess there's hope that some "stakeholders" are against the fracking and not investing in renewable energy, but I'm not really going to hold my breath on them winning out in this. However, "the Administration welcomes public comment on this issue".
So, on the face of this, and for those who TL;DR, what exactly do we gain as citizens out of this deal? The tariffs are removed from these countries, the apparel giants get to outsource their manufacturing without further duties, exploiting the people of Malaysia. The corporations interested in telecommunications, utilities, automotive, get to break up Malaysia's state owned enterprises for free market instead (which, given I don't know anything about Malaysia's economy, may be good). Monsanto will be free to ship their GMO laden foods to these TPP's as "bona fide food aid" without a chance of being turned away as it was in China. Our exports will rise to 0.6% in 12 years, basically consisting of service industry... and fracking!
What can we do? Respond on that link for the review about your concerns. Start putting pressure on your Congressional representatives and Senators for asking for transparency on this. This can not be forced to go into an up/down vote sight unseen and without public consumption or debate. There are enough out there already questioning this, but it needs to be brought into the public eye and not "sold" to the public as the next best wheel invention, because it's not.
I'll hit the IP stuff later this week when I have some more time, as that really cements the concept that these countries will be forced to adopt US laws, and how detrimental that can be to them, and why we are seeing the Corporate push as we are right now. I hope this helped shed some light on the TPP though for people, and if you get a chance, really read over this stuff, I suggest a wine or three or whatever beverage suits you while reading, it will ease the pain.
Update: Thanks everyone for your words and the Community Spotlight! As a first time poster, was a little worried this might be too long, but so very important, so thanks again everyon!