Time is running out to stop a secretive global trade agreement called the Trans-Pacific Partnership from getting Fast Track status at the end of January.
“Fast Track” means the U.S. Congress would essentially forfeit its constitutionally protected duty to determine U.S. trade policy by giving the executive branch the authority to negotiate and finalize the trade agreement. Congress would have no ability to change or modify the agreement before voting on its ratification.
Over 50 groups ranging from Rainforest Action Network and the Sierra Club to the AFL/CIO and the Teamsters have joined together to launch an organized effort to stop this corporate power grab of epic, appalling proportions.
TPP, a.k.a. “NAFTA on steroids,” is being negotiated behind closed doors by corporate lobbyists and officials from 12 countries (including the U.S. and several Pacific Rim countries). Even members of Congress have not been given full access to the entire negotiating text. Now Congress, comprised of elected officials whose job is to look out for the interests of the public, is considering whether or not to waive its powers of oversight and let the secretive cabal drafting the TPP have its way.
We the people need to rise up and demand that Congress not sell us out by giving TPP Fast Track status. Congress must retain its rights to make changes to the agreement in order to ensure it’s not just a massive giveaway to the corporations drafting it. Take action now at StopFastTrack.com.
There are many reasons to oppose TPP but here are the top five.
1.TPP would be bad for the environment.
Though drafts of the TPP have been closely guarded for the three years of negotiations, Wikileaks obtained a copy of the draft text that came out of discussions in Salt Lake City in November of last year. According to Wikileaks’ analysis, the environmental protections provisions in the draft would be completely unenforceable.
As 350.org says, “Without protections for land use, logging, and climate pollution, the TPP has gone from a bad deal to a disastrous one.” The Sierra Club says that TPP“would strip our government’s power to manage U.S. gas exports, opening the floodgates for fracking, sacrificing our air and water quality in order to feed foreign markets.”
Even worse, the TPP would make it far easier for corporations to challenge laws designed to rein in climate change, reduce air and water pollution, and otherwise protect our environment. In other words, multinational corporations can sue sovereign governments for the laws they enact, and all the corporations have to do is argue that following the law would cut into their profits. Horrifyingly, TPP would create private, non-transparent trade tribunals for corporations to plead their case to.
2.TPP would make global economic injustice worse.
Thirty years ago, the first free trade agreements were passed, with NAFTA being perhaps the most well known. These trade agreements have been incredibly bad for workers’ rights everywhere. “During this time, the global economic crisis accelerated at an alarming rate with only the 1% reaping the profits,” says John Kinsman ofCommonDreams.org. “This ongoing crisis will not end until these destructive free trade agreements are repealed and fair trade becomes the norm.”
Among the eleven companies negotiating TPP with the U.S. are countries like Vietnam and Brunei, which have notoriously bad human rights records. International Association of Machinists and Areospace Workers President Tom Buffenbarger says, “If TPP is finalized and implemented, it would wreak havoc on U.S. manufacturing workers as thousands of more jobs will be outsourced to countries that do not respect human rights.”
3.TPP would lead to censorship of the Internet.
As the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) puts it, the privileged, exclusive access given to corporations does not bode well for the copyright provisions in the TPP.
“How can this process possibly lead to digital policies that uphold the rights and interests of Internet users?” the EFF asks. “It can’t. As long as the U.S. trade office treats corporate insiders as the only relevant voice in policymaking, as long as elected lawmakers are largely shut out, and as long as Internet users’ concerns are considered as an after-thought (if they are considered at all), this process is undemocratic and illegitimate.”
4.TPP would endanger public health and food sovereignty.
Want to protect kids from cigarettes? TPP would make it easier for Big Tobacco to sue governments trying to do just that, which is why tobacco companies are lobbying hard for its passage, according to Corporate Accountability International.
That’s just one way TPP would threaten public health. The GMO Action Alliance counts several more: For one, it would “give polluters unrestricted access to our land, air, and water, if they see a profit opportunity. Environmental toxins pose the greatest risk to children. We need to be able to challenge polluters that want to enter and pollute our communities!”
TPP would also likely make it impossible to label Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), since corporations would argue that having to label GMOs in their foods would hurt sales and therefore profits. “We’ve seen allergies and other health problems in our own children and know we need full disclosure about what’s in the food we buy,” says GMO Action Alliance. (If you’re looking for more reasons to call your members of Congress and urge them to vote no on Fast Track status for TPP, check out the “Top 10 Reasons” GMO Action Alliance has up here.)
5.TPP is undemocratic and favors corporate profits over all else.
If TPP is fast tracked, that means it’s even more likely that so-called “investor-to-state dispute settlements” will be included. ISDS is the mechanism that allows corporations that don’t like a law—say, laws against polluting the environment, or laws protecting workers’ rights—to sue a government directly, rather than having to deal with that country’s courts or legislature—you know, the democratic process. Instead, corporations get to air their grievance in a private arbitration tribunal made up of for-profit arbitrators.
This is unconscionable. Corporate profits should not be guaranteed at the expense of our planet, workers’ rights, and everyone’s right to safe food and water.
This post originally appeared on Alternet.