The following letter was written by Cath Kestler, a resident of NY-23, and is shared here with permission.
The TPP and You
The TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership) is a secretive, multinational trade agreement that threatens to extend restrictive intellectual property (IP) laws across the globe and rewrite international rules on its enforcement. The main problems are two-fold:
- Intellectual Property Chapter: Leaked draft texts of the agreement show that the IP chapter would have extensive negative ramifications for users’ freedom of speech, right to privacy and due process and hinder peoples’ abilities to innovate.
- Lack of transparency: The entire process has shut out multi-stakeholder participation and is shrouded in secrecy.
The twelve nations currently negotiating the TPP are the US, Canada, Mexico, Japan, Chile, Peru, Singapore, New Zealand, Australia, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Brunei Darussalam. The TPP contains a chapter on intellectual property covering copyright, trademarks, and patents. Since the draft text of the TPP agreement hasn’t been officially released to the public, we know from leaked documents that the US negotiators are pushing for the adoption of copyright measures for more restrictive than currently required by international treaties, including the controversial Anti- Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA).
United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) called for increased transparency in the trade negotiations for the TPP. Sen. Warren expressed concerns about the transparency during negotiations.
“If members of the public do not have reasonable access to the terms of the agreements under negotiation, then they are unable to offer real input into the process,” Senator Warren wrote in a letter to Michael Froman, the United States Trade Representative. “Without transparency, the benefit from robust democratic participation-an open marketplace of ideas-is considerably reduced.”
In a recent conversation I had with Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), he stated, “The TPP is a disastrous trade agreement designed to protect large multinational corporations at the expense of workers, consumers, the environment and the utter foundation of American democracy. The TPP is an agreement written behind closed doors by the corporate world.”
Senator Sanders stated that while Wall Street, major media companies, and the pharmaceutical industry has full knowledge of what is pertained in the TPP, the American people have been locked out of that process. All Americans, regardless of your political affiliation should oppose the “fast track” process of the TPP.
Remember the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)? The TPP follows in NAFTA’s footsteps, a race to the bottom. NAFTA forced American workers to compete against low-wage labor and the desperate around the world. NAFTA has caused massive job losses in the US and the shutting down of tens of thousands of factories, these corporately backed trade agreements have contributed to the collapse of the middle class as we know it, and increased the wealth and income inequality. “The TPP is NAFTA on steroids,” said Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor, under President Bill Clinton from 1993 to 1997. Reich also served on the administration under both Presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter.
Boosting profits of large corporations and Wall Street by outsourcing jobs; dismantling labor; health, environmental, financial laws, and food safety; slashing worker’s rights; and allowing big corporations to challenge our laws in international tribunals, instead of the US judicial system.
Working families would be impacted the hardest. Here are ten ways Senator Sanders told me how the TPP work affect working families:
- TPP will allow corporations to outsource even more jobs overseas. The US will lose over 130,000 jobs to Vietnam and Japan alone, to start. Manufacturing jobs will be lost. Almost 3.5 million jobs were lost as a result of NAFTA and each trade agreement made with both China and Korea. The TPP will give special benefits to firms that outsource jobs. Service jobs will be lost. Three million have already been outsourced, including call centers; computer programming; engineering; accounting; and medical diagnostic testing.
- US sovereignty will be undermined by giving corporations the right to challenge our laws in international tribunals. Corporations could get taxpayer compensation to hear these challenges in tribunals. They can also challenge our laws that could impact possible “expected future profits”.
- Wages, benefits and collective bargaining will be threatened. This would enable these corporations to pay lower wages and take away benefits that workers are already been promised. Can you say union busting?
- Our ability to protect the environment will be undermined.
- Food safety standards threatened.
- American laws could come to an end. Under the TPP, foreign countries must be given equal access to federal contracts; this would result in jobs being lost here at home.
- Prescription drug prices increase, access to life saving drugs will plummet, and profits of drug companies will rise drastically.
- Wall Street would benefit at the expense of everyone else. The TPP would expand the rights and powers of the same Wall Street firms that nearly destroyed the world economy just five years ago and would create further financial instability in the future.
- The TPP would reward authoritarianism, like Vietnam, who systematically violates human rights.
- The TPP has no expiration date, making it virtually impossible to repeal.
I urge you to take it upon yourself and research this further to answer any questions you may have. The TPP and the “fast track” is destructive, if this passes it surely means that our freedoms have been sold to the highest bidder. Rep. Tom Reed is a supporter of the TPP, saying it will bring jobs to America. Call his office at 1-202-225-3161, voice your concerns.
Cath Kestler, is a resident of Silver Creek, NY