Tuesday, November 12, 2013

625 TPP an instrument of Clash of Civilizations & new Cold War; but US Default may undermine it

TPP an instrument of Clash of Civilizations & new Cold War; but US
Default may undermine it

Newsletter published on 9 December 2013

(1) TPP & US Default - which comes first?
(2) TPP an instrument of Clash of Civilizations & new Cold War - John Craig
(3) TPP directed at China; it requires Asian governments to abandon
state-ownership & guidance
(4) TPP would empower Capital, shrink Government, and undermine Sovereignty
(5) Ford lashes out at Japan’s entry into TPP trade talks
(6) Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP): The Terrible Plutocratic Plan
(7) If the Trans-Pacific Partnership Passes, It Could be the Final Nail
in Our Economy’s Coffin
(8) Donald Trump advocates 25% Tariff Protection
(9) US Trade treaties divide both South America, and Asia, into two blocs
(10) None of BRICS — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — are
part of  TPP
(11) Japan’s barriers to trade and investment
(12) TPP would make most Americans Poorer
(13) TPP chiefs back tariff elimination, but Japan resists
(14) Lew’s bid to hasten TPP talks gets mixed response in Tokyo
(15) Trans Atlantic Partnership: US & Europe clash over Snowden,
Financial Regulation
(16) WikiLeaks releases part of draft TPP treaty
(17) Australians may pay the price in Trans-Pacific Partnership free
trade agreement
(18) TPP would help Monsanto achieve Global Food Dominance - Ellen Brown

(1) TPP & US Default: which comes first? - Peter Myers, December 9, 2013

John Craig argues that the TPP is an instrument of Clash of
Civilizations & new Cold War (item 2).

No doubt, the American elite want it that way.

But they're asking Japan to give up its entire way of operating its
economy, namely to replace State Guidance with Laiseez-Faire.

Under State-Guidance, Japan has pursued a mercantilist trade policy
featuring Current Account Surpluses.

The TPP is targeted at China in particular, and BRICS more generally.
But note that South Korea is not a party to the TPP. This is one more
indication that it's moving out of the American camp.

Japan is not keen about the TPP, and likely to "drag the chain". If it
does sign up, it will probably continue to protect its economy anyway,
as it has despite GATT, APEC etc (see item 1).

The issue of the US defaulting on its Foreign debt has not been
resolved, but only postponed until January.

A Default would probably put paid to the TPP; therefore, the big issue
is, which comes first?

The US is also pursuing a Trans-Atlantic Partnership (TAP) with European
countries. Snowden's revelations of NSA spying have strengthened the
opposition.

The US would be the only country in both TAP and TPP, giving it a
dominant role, and pulling the rug from under Germany and Japan.

These two "Partnerships" are targeted against Mercantilism and State
Guidance; it would be a case of the loser of the Trade War dictating to
the victors.

(2) TPP an instrument of Clash of Civilizations & new Cold War - John Craig

From: "John Craig" <john.cpds@gmail.com>
Subject: RE: Investment Treaties & TPP: Early Steps to Counter Asian
Authoritarianism?
Date: Mon, 18 Nov 2013 20:28:00 +1000

Peter

These comments on TPPs, which I really don't know a lot about, were
interesting.

However another way of looking at the issue is suggested in 'Rules' that
favour state-linked businesses are not the only behind-the-border
problem in economic dealings with China.
<http://cpds.apana.org.au/Teams/Articles/Babes.htm#13_10_13>

My suspicion is that the TPP (like the so-called Currency War) is
intended as a counter-tactic to the mercantilism that major East Asian
societies have sought to use
<http://cpds.apana.org.au/Teams/Articles/globalization.htm#CurrencyWar>

to advance their (anti-individualism) notions of how the world should be
run (eg see  What does an 'Asian Century'
Imply?<http://cpds.apana.org.au/Teams/Articles/Babes.htm#century>).

Though no one has officially said so, the ‘clash of civilizations’ that
the TPP and the Currency War reflect do seem to me to be US tactics in
what is likely to become a new Cold War.

(3) TPP directed at China; it requires Asian governments to abandon
state-ownership & guidance


http://foreignpolicyblogs.com/2011/11/13/apec-and-the-tpp-–-the-best-way-to-deal-with-china’s-undervalued-currency-and-mercantilist-trade-policies/

APEC and the TPP – The Best Way to Deal with China’s Harmful Trade Policies.

by Nasos Mihalakas | on November 13th, 2011

Last month Secretary of State Hillary Clinton proclaimed, in an article
for the Foreign Policy Magazine, ‘America’s Pacific Century’! This week,
President Obama will be laying the foundation through a series of
multilateral meetings involving Pacific Rim countries. He will start
with the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting in Hawaii (Nov
12th-13th), and continue at the Association of South-East Asian Nations
(ASEAN) summit in Bali, Indonesia (Nov 17th-19th).

At the margins of both these world leader gatherings, President Obama
will be pushing hard for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a
little-known but fairly liberal trade grouping which could put real
pressure on China to finally change its mercantilist trade policies and
undervalued currency.

Currently, the TPP includes only 4 small economies: Brunei, Chile, New
Zealand and Singapore. During the past couple of years, Australia,
Malaysia, Peru, Vietnam, and the U.S. have been negotiating entry into
the group. Now Japan has also announced that it will participate in the
negotiations to form what, at least in theory, has come to be perceived
as the “gold standard” for trade agreements that would go further than
any existing arrangement.

All these Asian summits officially present an excellent opportunity for
President Obama to take his effort for economic growth and job creation
internationally. Two-way trade between the U.S. and the 8 TPP nations
totaled $171 billion in 2010, compared with $457 billion with China,
$181 billion with Japan and $88 billion with South Korea, according to
the U.S. Commerce Department. Overall, the APEC economies account for
half of global output, and represent the main target of the president’s
efforts to double U.S. exports in the near future.

Unofficially however, U.S. efforts within APEC and more specifically the
nature and composition of the TPP are designed to confront China on its
mercantilist trade policies – especially the manipulation of its currency.

What Is So Special About The TPP

According to Iwan Azis, head of the Asian Development Bank’s regional
integration office (quoted in an interview by the FT), the agreement is
intended to deal with what he calls “behind the border” issues. These
include areas of what could be deemed domestic policy which go beyond
the normal scope of trade agreements.

Currently, almost everything other then labor mobility is up for
liberalization through the TPP, making it one of the most comprehensive
free-trade treaties yet conceived. Beyond the ambitious goal of
eliminate all tariffs over 10 years, the most significant areas that are
currently negotiated include: government procurement, rules governing
the conduct of state-owned enterprises, and intellectual property standards.

The TPP promises something truly groundbreaking: persuading Asian
governments to accept new rules on the role of state-owned enterprises,
the cornerstone of Asian-style capitalism. State-owned enterprises often
benefit from cheap financing or government protection. China, in
particular, is often criticized for seeking to ensure the success of
national champions to the detriment of free trade and honest competition.

According to Bloomberg, Asian governments operate in many markets
through state-owned companies with large bundles of cash reserves at
their disposal. They exist both to make a profit and to build state
power. Ten years ago, emerging countries added $100 billion a year
combined to their reserves. In 2009, they took in $1.6 trillion.
Sovereign wealth funds now control 12% of investment worldwide,
according to the U.S. State Department. Sometimes, state-owned
enterprises work in secrecy and without accountability to shareholders,
independent boards and regulators. The lack of transparency puts U.S.
companies at a disadvantage.

On the other hand, China undervalues its currency, by pegging the
renminbi (RMB) to the dollar at an artificially low level. This, along
with other subsidies and mercantilist trade policies, keeps Chinese
exports cheap, and thus more attractive to consumers in the U.S. and
Europe. Because China is the manufacturing hub for South-East Asia,
where most assembling and export happens, China’s artificially
undervalued currency is also impacting trade throughout the region.

As a result, other regional countries have pegged their currency to the
RMB (Singapore, Taiwan, Malaysia, and of course Hong Kong) in order to
compete with Chinese exports, but also to align their production pricing
with China. More recently, Japan has been forced to intervene in the
foreign currency markets 4 times during the past 14 months, in order to
lower the value of the yen and thus facilitate greater exports for its
manufacturing sector.

This is where the TPP can provide leverage for the U.S. The U.S. has not
been able to convince China to change its trade and currency policies.
Now it must try to put pressure on the other Pacific Rim countries to
embrace the U.S. agenda. The timing could not be more opportune.

The U.S. Strategy So Far

Over the years, high on the list of U.S. international trade priorities
has been getting commitments from China to enact more flexible currency
rate standards to help balance trade; respect intellectual property
rights; and limit the role of state-owned enterprises in the market. The
TPP reads like the U.S. trade agenda with respect to China, now being
formalized with some of the most important economies of the region.

So far, China has not been very responsive to U.S. demands for currency
appreciation and more domestic (Chinese) consumption. In last year’s
APEC meeting, President Obama directly pressed China over its massive
exports aided by a cheap RMB, and urged countries with large trade
surpluses (like China, Japan, and S. Korea) to shift away from their
unhealthy dependence on exports and take steps to boost domestic demand.
President Obama’s pleas fell on deaf ears (both then and now) as the
Chinese leader insisted (as always) that China will make reforms at its
own pace.

Unfortunately, singling out China as the worst offender (in mercantilist
trade policies) has not worked so far as a strategy. On the other hand,
the U.S. has greater leverage and a much different/better relationship
with most of the other Asian member of APEC. Therefore, the U.S. should
push the partnership to curb currency manipulation, Internet censorship,
forced intellectual-property sharing and coerced joint ventures with
state-owned companies. If the rest of Asia moves closer to the U.S.
model, that could pressure China to do the same. Experts hope that
creating a free-trade block of sufficient mass will put pressure on
China to join and thus open and liberalize more of its economy. The idea
is for the TPP to be a structure on to which other nations, including
possibly South Korea, and eventually even China, could be eventually
integrated.

Furthermore, China’s efforts to internationalize the RMB make it all
that more pressing to confront them on their undervalued currency. (see,
China’s Efforts to Internationalize its Currency) Although it is the
most appropriate forum, doing this through APEC will not be easy. China
has gotten very good at manipulating international organizations and
getting what it wants out of them.

Although active at the technical level, China has not been helpful at
the leader’s level with APEC’s efforts to achieve anything even remotely
approaching regional free trade. While not wanting to be seen as
obstructionist, China can nevertheless be expected to effectively
exploit APEC’s inherent inability to act decisively in order to help
ensure that the organization never fully achieves any meaningful trade
reform. APEC will need strong leadership from the U.S. and President
Obama to both address the trade distorting nature of China’s currency
policy and strengthen regional free trade.

The ‘Elephant’ in Room – China

David Gordon of the Eurasia Group recently argued that China has
overplayed its hand in Asia, and its rapid growth and aggressive
posturing (both economic and military) “is inadvertently driving Asian
states to build closer economic and strategic ties with the U.S. and
each other.” Over the past 18 months China has taken a very an
aggressive tone towards territorial disputes in the South China Sea and
elsewhere. Mr. Gordon further argues that Beijing has miscalculated its
ability to cater to nationalist feelings domestically without alarming
its neighbors, and is now (inadvertently) driving Asian nations to build
closer economic and strategic ties with the U.S. and each other.

And you know that the Chinese leadership is concerned when commentary in
the Chinese press often casts the TPP as an aggressive U.S.-led ploy to
squeeze China out of SE Asia. Of course this is exactly what China did
back in 2005, with the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area. Covering more than
1.8 billion people, this FTA is the world’s largest in terms of
population; and amounting to a combined $6 trillion in GDP, the third
largest after the EU and NAFTA. The obvious advantage was that such an
approach removed the US – and its oftentimes confrontational agenda –
from the equation and it undermined U.S. economic linkages in the
region. Now the U.S. is poised to formally accede to East Asia Summit
(the ASEAN+3) next week, a move that the other SE Asian nations welcome,
as they hope that the U.S. could provide a counterweight to China in the
region.

Conclusion

Undersecretary of State Robert Hormats was recently quoted as saying:
“There’s competition between the American economic model and the more
state-centered economic model of China and other countries.” Many have
been arguing for a serious debate on the damaging role of state
capitalism on the global economy, and the ideological differences
between the U.S./EU rule based global economy and SE Asia’s mercantilist
trade practices.

Although there is a deeply pragmatic driving force behind the TPP,
undoubtedly, it also has an element of seeking to wrest back global
trade for nations perceived to play by the rules. The Obama
administration might have finally found a trade strategy to deal with
China’s undervalued currency and mercantilist economic policies.

Some Sources –

Trans-Pacific Trade Deal Could Revolutionize Commerce: View by the
Editors of Bloomberg BuisnessWeek.
(http://www.businessweek.com/news/2011-11-11/trans-pacific-trade-deal-could-revolutionize-commerce-view.html)

Trans-Pacific Partnership: Far-reaching agreement could form powerful
new trade bloc, By David Pilling.
(http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/47dd4d14-06cc-11e1-90de-00144feabdc0.html#axzz1dKBjz1mp)

America’s Pacific Century, By Hillary Clinton.
(http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2011/10/11/americas_pacific_century)

Obama heads to Asia focused on China’s power, by David Nakamura and
William Wan.
(http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/obama-heads-to-asia-with-sharp-focus-on-chinas-growing-power/2011/11/10/gIQAOsQkBN_story.html)

A trade opportunity Washington shouldn’t pass up, by David Gordon.
(http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/a-trade-opportunity-washington-shouldnt-pass-up/2011/11/10/gIQA1K3t9M_story.html)

(4) TPP would empower Capital, shrink Government, and undermine Sovereignty

http://www.itif.org/publications/gold-standard-or-wto-lite-shaping-trans-pacific-partnership

Gold Standard or WTO-Lite?: Shaping the Trans-Pacific Partnership

May 25, 2011

Stephen Ezell and Robert D. Atkinson

ABSTRACT: The Obama Administration is wisely moving forward with a
landmark trade agreement called the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
Ideally, it will increase regional economic integration between the U.S.
and eight other Asia-Pacific nations. But in a new report, Gold-Standard
or WTO-Lite?: Shaping the Trans-Pacific Partnership, ITIF questions
whether the TPP will truly raise the bar for fair, market-based trade or
allow the continuation of rampant mercantilist practices such as
intellectual property theft, non-tariff barriers, discriminatory
government procurement practices and other practices that have hurt U.S.
economic growth and invited skepticism of global trade. The report
argues unless the TPP is in fact a “gold standard” agreement, the U.S.
should decline to join.

The United States is currently negotiating entrance into the
Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement, an Asian-Pacific regional
integration and free trade pact created in 2006 by Australia, Brunei,
New Zealand, and Singapore. Chile, Malaysia, Peru, and Vietnam are also
seeking to become members of this pact. Early signs indicate that
negotiators intend to deliver at least the outline of an agreement by
the time President Obama hosts the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation
(APEC) leaders’ meeting in Honolulu this coming November.

The TPP is important because it would help boost U.S. exports and
strengthen U.S. commercial ties with this strategically and economically
vital region. Yet the TPP is perhaps most important because it could be
a model 21st century free trade agreement that fosters further global
economic integration and raises the standard by which countries can
conduct true, market-based trade.

The TPP can be such an agreement but will only become so if it holds
nations who sign it to the very highest standards, including those
regarding intellectual property (IP) rights protection, transparency and
openness in government procurement practices, restrictions on
preferential treatment toward state-owned enterprises (SOEs),
transparent standards setting processes, comprehensive tariff
reductions, elimination of a host of non-tariff barriers (NTBs), and at
least equal, if not greater, emphasis on enforcement as on market access.

Unfortunately, in an apparent rush to meet an artificial deadline and
achieve a victory on trade, the Obama Administration is not currently
insisting on a gold-standard agreement that comprehensively eliminates
beggar-thy-neighbor mercantilist practices and that precludes countries
employing such practices from joining. Indeed, as this report documents,
a number of the United States’ would-be TPP partners continue to employ
mercantilist practices and several have pushed to weaken the TPP’s
standards, including those with regard to IP protection, elimination of
NTBs, government procurement regulations, etc.

The risks of signing a water-down agreement are significant. Whatever
provisions s the United States agrees to with respect to IP, treatment
of SOEs, removal of NTBs, and other items in the TPP will set a
precedent establishing the baseline for future trade negotiations with
nations like China. If the United States does not negotiate a
gold-standard TPP, it will compromise its future ability to take a hard
line against mercantilism and to secure favorable trade terms with other
nations. In other words, we’ve got to get this one right. The following
are seven key issues negotiators must address.

1. The TPP must include state-of-the-art intellectual property
protection and enforcement provisions, and exclude countries failing to
protect the rights of intellectual property holders. Unfortunately, most
of the current and candidate TPP signatories have spotty records on IP
protection, and in fact five of the eight potential TPP partners—Brunei,
Chile, Malaysia, Peru, and Vietnam—were placed on the United States
Trade Representative Office’s (USTR’s) 2011 Special 301 Report Watch
List for failing to adequately protect U.S. intellectual property
rights. If the TPP is to truly be a 21st century trade agreement, it
can’t include countries, or at least can’t allow the practices of
countries, with a history of failing to enforce IP rights.

2. TPP members must commit to open and non-discriminatory government
procurement practices. A core principal of market-based trade is that
government purchases should be made on the basis of the best value for
government, not on the basis of national preferences. It is therefore a
concern that only one of the eight other TPP countries, Singapore, is a
signatory to the World Trade Organization’s (WTO’s) Government
Procurement Agreement. Some TPP countries have even used government
procurement to support blatantly mercantilist policy objectives such as
forcing the transfer of foreign technology to domestic industries, while
others have simply denied or obfuscated foreign firms’ ability to
compete for government procurement contracts.

3. The TPP must ensure non-preferential treatment for state-owned
enterprises. State-owned enterprises represent a major challenge to U.S.
international competitiveness, not because they are paragons of
efficiency or innovation, but because they are all too often recipients
of unfair subsidies and protections by their governments. The TPP
affords an important opportunity to develop more adequate and effective
rules governing the operation of SOEs so that companies from all
countries can compete on an equal footing under terms of “competitive
neutrality,” meaning that government-supported business activities do
not enjoy net competitive advantage over their private sector competitors.

4. The TPP needs to further liberalize trade in services. While still
much smaller in overall volume, global services trade is growing faster
than goods trade and as such is a key area to get right in trade
agreements. Unfortunately, the USTR’s 2011 National Trade Estimate
Report on Foreign Trade Barriers notes that almost every would-be TPP
partner places significant barriers on trade in services, from Chile’s
restrictions on U.S. asset fund management services to Singapore’s
restrictions on foreign banks.

5. The TPP must guarantee true open market access. Market access is at
the heart of free trade. But many TPP nations restrict market access,
from limits on the ability of U.S. pharmaceutical manufacturers to
market and distribute innovative biopharmaceutical products to
restrictions on the cross-border flow of data, information, and digital
goods and services and trade in information and communications
technology (ICT) equipment and services.

6. The TPP must comprehensively eliminate non-tariff barriers.
Unfortunately, as successive rounds of GATT and WTO trade agreements
have generally succeeded in lowering tariffs on global trade, many
nations have responded by raising non-tariff based trade barriers. These
include discriminatory standards, discriminatory industry-specific
market distorting subsidies, regulatory distortions, foreign equity
(investment) limits, and other non-tariff barriers that prevent
effective access for U.S. goods and services in foreign markets.

7. TPP countries should complete the process of conventional tariff
reduction. While global tariff rates have come down, several would-be
TPP partners continue to impose high tariff barriers, particularly in
high-technology industries such as ICT or renewable energy. For example,
Vietnam places 26 percent tariffs on lithium-ion cells and batteries
while Malaysia places 25 percent tariffs on computer monitors.

The TPP holds great potential to represent a gold-standard 21st century
trade agreement, but the United States should decline to join anything less.

(5) Ford lashes out at Japan’s entry into TPP trade talks

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/aa1f6184-ee37-11e2-816e-00144feabdc0.html

By James Politi and Aaron Stanley in Washington

Financial Times July 16, 2013 6:49 pm

Ford’s top executive in Washington has delivered a stinging attack
against Japanese economic policies ahead of the country’s entry into
Trans-Pacific Partnership trade talks next week, reflecting deep
frustration about the negotiations within the US car industry.

The remarks by Steve Biegun, the Washington-based vice-president for
international governmental affairs at Ford, offer evidence of the
complicated politics at work in the US over the TPP talks, which seek to
liberalise trade among 12 Pacific-Rim nations.

The big three Detroit-based automakers and other US manufacturers who
feel they are being damaged by what they see as Japan’s deliberate
weakening of the yen could emerge as a hotbed of political opposition to
the TPP and push their view in Congress.

Their hackles have been raised by Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe’s
so-called “Abenomics” fiscal and monetary stimulus programme which has
prompted a sharp weakening in the yen.

“Japan does not embrace the model of free trade. It’s a mercantilist
system where export driven growth is the priority and Abenomics, to the
extent that we’ve seen it play out so far, it seems largely to be
repackaged ‘Japan Inc’ rhetoric: facilitating subsidised exports and
casting that as competitiveness,” Mr Biegun told the Financial Times.

Japan is set to join the TPP talks late during its 18th round, which is
under way in Malaysia. The Obama administration agreed to allow Japan’s
entry earlier this year after a lengthy negotiation in which Japan made
some concessions to US automakers, such as lifting the quota on vehicles
imported through a special programme. But the US auto industry says this
is not even close to sufficient.

“Japan is the most closed auto market in the world,” Mr Biegun said.
“[It has had] a rolling set of barriers over the decades ranging from
outright exclusion of importers, to harassment of import brands, and
unique regulatory requirements that are often applied to a low volume
import, creating excessive cost.”

But it is Japan’s alleged manipulation of the yen more than market
access issues that has rankled feelings in Detroit and elsewhere in the
US rust belt, since it puts US goods at a disadvantage compared to
Japanese goods in third countries.

Matt Blunt, president of the American Automotive Policy Council, which
represents all three big US carmakers, warned recently that “it will be
impossible for his group to support the TPP” unless “strong and
enforceable provisions to prevent Japan from intervening in currency
markets to depress the value of the yen” are in the agreement.

A bipartisan group of 230 members of the House of Representatives,
representing more than a majority, last month wrote a letter to
President Barack Obama saying it was “imperative” for currency
provisions to be part of the TPP, though they stopped short of
mentioning Japan by name.

Washington and Tokyo have put in place bilateral negotiations designed
to address the car industry tensions to run in parallel with the TPP
talks, in the hope of striking a palatable deal for both sides and
smooth over many of the remaining differences.

“We are well positioned to level the playing field for US automakers and
workers through the TPP and parallel bilateral negotiations,” an
official from the US Trade Representative’s office said on Tuesday,
noting that they have been “front and centre” of discussions relating to
Japan’s entry into the talks.

But Mr Biegun, a former White House National Security Council official
under George W Bush, said that was not enough. “It’s incumbent upon
Japanese to demonstrate what are they going to do to fix the situation,”
he said. One of his concerns with the TPP negotiations – often billed as
a strategic priority for the US in containing China – is that
“geopolitics has gotten ahead of the trade considerations here”.

Mr Biegun said Ford supported the TPP process from the beginning and
through its expansion from four to nine to 11 members, including last
year’s addition of Canada and Mexico into the talks. But he said
progress on sensitive issues had been slow and the talks would only
become “more difficult and more complicated” with Japan’s entry.

Mr Biegun also pointed out that Ford had backed every free trade
agreement the US ever negotiated, including a deal with South Korea that
entered into force last year after some auto sector provisions were
renegotiated by the Obama administration.

“We’re not coming at this lightly and we’re not coming at it
ideologically,” Mr Biegun said. “In the US we’re the largest exporter of
automobiles. So we are hugely invested in trade. We bring vehicles into
the US. We ship vehicles out of the US.”

If the Obama administration failed to secure a deal with Japan on TPP
that was satisfactory to the US automakers, it would mark a big split
with a sector that has been supportive of the White House since its
rescue of domestic car manufacturers during the financial crisis.

Japanese carmakers have a very different perspective on the TPP talks,
chastising what they see as “misunderstanding” about perceived barriers
to the Japanese market.

“Japan has zero auto tariffs and no restrictive customs or regulations
only apply to imported vehicles,” Ron Bookbinder, an executive with the
Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association, recently told a USTR hearing
on TPP.

Japanese carmakers have argued that US vehicles do not sell well in
Japan because they are simply not small enough, to which US
manufacturers retort that they have very good business in Europe, where
many consumers also prefer smaller cars.

(6) Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP): The Terrible Plutocratic Plan

http://www.globalresearch.ca/trans-pacific-partnership-tpp-the-terrible-plutocratic-plan/5343500

By David Swanson

presented at War Is A Crime 21 July 2013

Global Research, July 22, 2013

Thanks to Michael Feikema and Doug Hendren for inviting me. Like most of
you I do not spend my life studying trade agreements, but the
Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is disturbing enough to make me devote a
little time to it, and I hope you will do the same and get your
neighbors to do the same and get them to get their friends to do the
same — as soon as possible.

I spend most of my time reading and writing about war and peace. I’m in
the middle of writing a book about the possibility and need to abolish
war and militarism. I hate to take a break from that. But if we think
trade and militarism are separate topics we’re fooling ourselves.

New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, a big fan of the supposed
wonders of the hidden hand of the market economy says, “The hidden hand
of the market will never work without a hidden fist. McDonald’s cannot
flourish without McDonnell Douglas, the designer of the U.S. Air Force
F-15. And the hidden fist that keeps the world safe for Silicon Valley’s
technologies to flourish is called the U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy and
Marine Corps.”

Of course, there’s nothing hidden about that fist. The TPP is planned to
include the United States, Canada, Mexico, Peru, Chile, Australia, New
Zealand, Singapore, Brunei, Malaysia, and Vietnam, with Japan expected
to be added this month, and with the ability to expand to any other
Pacific nation even after the treaty is created — if it is created. The
U.S. military works closely with the militaries of all of those nations,
encourages their militarization, and keeps its own troops in most of
them. The U.S. military is currently building up its presence in the
Pacific — including even in Vietnam, where McDonald’s also opened its
first store this week. In a presidential debate last year President
Obama described the TPP as part of a strategy to counter China and exert
U.S. influence in Asia, the same rationale behind the naval base on Jeju
Island and all the rest of the military build up around China’s borders.
In this year’s State of the Union, Obama said the TPP and an agreement
with the European Union were priorities for him this year.

There is also, of course, nothing hidden about the hand of corporate
trade agreements. These are not agreements aimed at maximizing
competition by preventing monopolies. These are very lengthy and
detailed agreements that include protection and expansion of monopolies.
Rather than relying on the magic of the marketplace, a corporate trade
agreement relies on the influence of lobbyists. Just as the corruption
of the military industrial complex helps explain a global military
buildup in the absence of a national enemy — I mean an enemy that is a
nation, not a handful of criminals who ought to be indicted and
prosecuted rather than blown up along with whoever’s nearby — so, too,
the corporate ownership of our government explains our government’s
trade policies.

What is hidden, in another sense, is the detailed negotiated text of the
proposed TPP treaty. Some 600 corporate advisors are helping the U.S.
government write the text. Some of these advisors come from those
benevolent, public-interest firms known as Monsanto, the Bank of
America, Chevron, and ExxonMobil. The rest of us are shut out. The
government gathers up our every communication, but we aren’t allowed to
see what it’s doing in our name. We don’t influence the text and we
don’t get to see it. Some courageous person or persons willing to risk
charges of aiding the enemy (even if there is no enemy) has made parts
of what is in the TPP known. [...]

Maybe the first thing I would interrupt a super bowl or a state of the
union to tell people about the TPP is that it creates corporate
nationhood. This is something I started to focus on after interviewing
Lacey Kohlmoos of Public Citizen on my radio show. Public Citizen has a
website set up at ExposeTheTPP.org. Another coalition has created
FlushTheTPP.org. Another is at CitizensTrade.org. And then there’s a
cross-border effort to organize against the TPP at TPPxborder.org. You
can find pretty much everything I have to say, and much more, at those
websites. You can sign up and get involved with ongoing campaigns as
things develop at those websites.

Many of us have heard of corporate personhood. Corporations have been
given the Constitutional rights of persons by U.S. courts over the past
40 years, including the right to spend money on elections. By corporate
nationhood I mean the bestowing of the rights of nations on
corporations. The TPP, drafts of which have been leaked to Public
Citizen, has 29 chapters, only five of which — according to Public
Citizen’s thinking — deal with trade. The others deal with things like
food safety, internet freedom, medicine costs, job off-shoring, and
financial regulation. Treaties, according to Article VI of the U.S.
Constitution, are — together with the Constitution itself — the supreme
law of the land. So U.S. laws would have to be made to comply with the
TPP’s rules.

The United States is party to treaties banning war and torture. Some
treaties are treated more like helpful suggestions than the supreme law
of the land. That would not be the case with the TPP. Our federal and
state and local governments would have to obey the TPP. And if they
didn’t, corporations could force them to. A corporation could take the
U.S. government or other nations’ governments to court (or rather, a
special tribunal) and overturn their laws. That’s corporate nationhood.
A bunch of corporate lawyers would make their case to a tribunal made up
of three corporate lawyers taking a break from themselves arguing such
cases in order to rule on some of them. These three lawyers would answer
to no electorate and be bound by no precedents. There would be no
appeals process. They would be empowered to order any amount of
compensation whatsoever, to be paid to corporations by tax payers.

So, if the United States has a healthcare policy or an environmental or
workplace policy or a banking or internet or other public policy that a
few corporate lawyers can convince three other corporate lawyers fails
to comply with the TPP, the policy will be overturned, the law
rewritten, and compensation ordered to be paid by the public treasury to
the corporations that suffered from having to provide healthcare or from
having to refrain from poisoning a river, or whatever. We don’t know all
of the details — I’ll get to some of them shortly. But this framework is
an outrage no matter what they turn out to be. And it’s an expansion of
something already being tried under existing corporate trade agreements.

ExposeTheTPP.org says: “Tribunals have already ordered governments to
pay over $3.5 billion in investor-state cases under existing U.S.
agreements. This includes payments over toxic bans, land-use policies,
forestry rules and more. More than $14.7 billion remain in pending
claims under U.S. agreements alone. Even when governments win, they
often must pay for the tribunals’ costs and legal fees, which average $8
million per case. The TPP would expand the scope of policies that could
be attacked.

“The proposed TPP foreign investor privileges would provide foreign
firms greater ‘rights’ than those afforded to domestic firms. This
includes a ‘right’ to not have expectations frustrated by a change in
government policy. Claiming such radical privileges, foreign
corporations have launched investor-state cases against a broad array of
environmental, energy, consumer health, toxics, water, mining and other
non-trade domestic policies that they allege undermine their ‘expected
future profits.’

“Some of the investor-state attacks now underway are:
Chevron trying to evade liability for its Ecuadorian Amazon toxic
contamination;
Phillip Morris attacking Australia’s cigarette labeling policy;
Eli Lilly attacking Canada’s drug patent policy; and
European firms attacking Egypt’s post-revolution minimum wage increase
and South Africa’s post-Apartheid affirmative action law.”

Corporate trade agreements like the TPP don’t impose something as
dangerous as corporate nationhood as part of the cost of some other
benefit. These agreements have no clear upside, unless it’s inexpensive,
poorly made products that poorly paid people can afford to buy. Most
destructive public policies are justified by jobs. We’ll chop down that
forest for jobs. We’ll build a bigger military for jobs. We’ll mine coal
for jobs. We’ll concentrate wealth beyond medieval levels for jobs. But
corporate trade agreements eliminate, or at least export, jobs.

The United States had about 20 million manufacturing jobs before NAFTA,
and lost about 5 million of them, including the closure of more than
60,000 facilities. Imports have soared while the growth of exports has
slowed. Millions of service jobs have been offshored too, of course. The
TPP is referred to by those who have seen drafts of it (and you can read
some draft chapters online) as NAFTA on steroids. It expands on NAFTA’s
policies. The TPP would provide special benefits to, and eliminate risks
for, companies that offshore jobs. Vietnam’s wages are even lower than
China’s. An average day’s wage in China is $4.11. In Vietnam it’s $2.75.

The TPP will push U.S. wages downward. And if NAFTA’s impact on Mexico
is any guide, the TPP won’t end up being seen as beneficial to Vietnam
either, especially when some other country decides that it can pay
workers even less than Vietnam does.

The TPP will also move U.S. government contracting jobs to foreign
companies by banning buy-American procurement policies. The ability of
U.S. firms to bid on government contracts in the other participating
countries will not begin to balance this out. And in every country
involved, the foreign companies will be less accountable to the people
whose money is being spent. Also banned will be preferential treatment
for sweat-free businesses, minority-owned businesses, women-owned, or
environmentally-friendly businesses. Not only does the TPP make
corporations into governments, but it also makes governments into
corporations, requiring that they work purely to maximize profits —
although the profits are for the corporations.

The TPP doesn’t end there. When it comes to food safety and workplace
safety and other consumer or environmental protections, an agreement
like this could require that all nations enforce a high standard, even
the highest standard of any of the nations, or a higher standard than
any nation now meets — after all, the agreement would create an even
playing field for all and ought to be seen as an opportunity to
collectively raise the standards. The TPP, as drafted, does just the
opposite. It would require the United States to import meat and poultry
that doesn’t meet U.S. safety standards. Any U.S. food safety rule on
pesticides, labeling, or additives that is higher than international
standards could be challenged as an “illegal trade barrier.” Malaysia
and Vietnam are big seafood exporters. High levels of contaminants have
been found in Vietnam’s seafood. (I can’t imagine why!) The FDA only
inspects 1% of imported seafood now. Local seafood producers struggle as
it is. The pollution involved in shipping seafood around the globe
probably won’t work wonders for future seafood either. And don’t imagine
we’ll all just buy local and “vote with our wallets.” The TPP will
impose limits on labeling where food comes from, labeling GMO foods,
labeling foods dolphin-safe, etc. You won’t know where your food comes
from or how it was produced unless you grow it or buy it from a neighbor
who grew it. But the odds will be stacked even more heavily against the
small farmer if the TPP is enacted.

Once everyone’s gotten good and sick by eating TPP food, just wait to
see what the TPP does to healthcare. Corporations with national rights
will be able to overturn domestic patent and drug-pricing laws. The big
drug companies will be able to raise prices with extended monopolies
over drugs and over surgical procedures. People in need of inexpensive
generic drugs will be denied them, and many of those people will die.
The TPP, in the end, may turn out to be more deadly than any war. The
TPP would threaten provisions included in Medicare, Medicaid, and
veterans’ health programs to make medicines more affordable. Foreign
corporations will also be able to challenge laws on toxics, zoning,
cigarettes, alcohol, public health, and the environment — anything that
they could claim might cost them profits. NAFTA doesn’t go as far as the
TPP, but these things are already happening under it. ExposeTheTPP.org
says: “Canada lifted a ban on a gasoline additive already banned in the
U.S. as a suspected carcinogen after an investor attack by Ethyl
Corporation under NAFTA. It also paid the firm $13 million and published
a formal statement that the chemical was not hazardous.” [...]

(7) If the Trans-Pacific Partnership Passes, It Could be the Final Nail
in Our Economy’s Coffin


http://economyincrisis.org/content/another-job-killing-agreement-is-coming

James Moreland

September 21, 2013

Despite promises to fix the American economy, the formation of the
job-killing Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was a top priority for
President Obama’s second term before he’d even won reelection. After the
passage of disastrous “free trade” agreements with South Korea,
Colombia, and Panama, the TPP seemed almost inevitable. The misguided
push towards globalization, both economically and politically, has
largely disarmed TPP opposition, even in light of the largely
undisclosed negotiations that have taken place behind the curtain.

These negotiations are scheduled to conclude as early as the end of
2013. The massive Asian Pacific partnership would legally bind the
United States in a pact with ten other nations, including a few which
are already involved in trade agreements with the U.S.: Australia,
Brunei, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, Vietnam, Chile, Peru, Mexico
and Canada. None of these other countries have a gross domestic product
(GDP) that even ranks in the global top ten (Canada is closest, at
11th). In fact, the combined GDP of all ten of these other nations is
roughly one-third that of the United States.

The most obvious problem with this partnership with largely poor nations
is that partnerships of this nature tend to pull the wealthier
participating economies toward a lower standard of living. Economies
like Vietnam’s (57th in the world) and Brunei’s (111th in the world)
will enjoy an economic improvement, while the United States will almost
surely witness a decline. While the TPP itself is not technically a free
trade agreement, it will in fact open the door to widespread,
unrestricted, and damaging trade in the region.

This brings up another key issue. One of the ultimate goals of the TPP
is to bring about a Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific (FTAAP). This is
the real intent of the TPP, and the one that will be most damaging to
the United States. This is an attractive idea to many Asian nations who
are not currently a part of the TPP talks, especially China. Considering
China‘s dubious trade record, any and all measures should be considered
to avert this situation.

The export-led, mercantilist economies of the Asian Pacific region have
a real chance to strengthen their global economic presence through the
TPP. But for the United States, it is little more than a political
platform. Unfortunately, we stand to lose far more than we will gain,
especially if an Asia Pacific trade agreement involving China becomes a
reality. Meanwhile, the second most prosperous nation involved in the
TPP is Canada, with which the U.S. already has both a healthy diplomatic
relationship and a standing free trade agreement (NAFTA).

American citizens should hope that the TPP is not as imminent as it is
starting to seem. We should do everything we can to stop the deal and
ensure the United States economy is protected. President Obama needs to
really consider if this is a prudent endeavor for the people of this
country. The economies of the Asia Pacific region are already preying
upon U.S. consumerism, flooding us with cheap imports and putting our
companies out of business. The TPP will only invite more of the same.
Unfortunately, American leaders’ commitment to globalism seems to have
blinded them to the damage going on right here at home.

(8) Donald Trump advocates 25% Tariff Protection

http://worldtradelaw.typepad.com/ielpblog/2010/11/donald-trump-is-a-mercantilist.html

This blog is published by WorldTradeLaw.net with contributions by the
trade law experts listed below. (Read More)

Donald Trump is a Mercantilist

Speaking of mercantilism, here's something from a Greta Van Susteren
interview with Donald Trump:

  VAN SUSTEREN: ...

  All right, the economy, the unemployment rate not getting better. If
you were advising the president, what would you tell him to do?

  TRUMP: Obviously the word is "jobs." How do you get jobs? I hear so
many people talking so many different things. The problem is our jobs
have left this country. We are making our products in China and in other
places.

  And what the politicians have done to this country, they should be
ashamed of themselves. The other day I was watching "60 Minutes" I see a
place, Newton, Iowa, beautiful place, beautiful people they lost Maytag.
The jobs went to Mexico, most of the jobs to Mexico.

  I'm saying to myself, isn't that a shame. Here you have this beautiful
community with these incredible people and the jobs went to Mexico.

  So the problem with this country is between China and other places, we
just don't make product any more. We do health care here, but that's not
the kind of product I'm talking about. I'm talking about where you
really make product. If I build a building many of the materials and
things I get are made in China. It is very, very sad.

  VAN SUSTEREN: You talked about Mexico. There was a company in
northwest Wisconsin where I'm from just moved its entire production to
Mexico. I assume the labor is cheaper there and that's why the companies
are doing it?

  TRUMP: I think they get incentives from our government. NAFTA, whether
people like it or don't, give me a break. You look at what's happened
where New England in particular, they've been wiped out and the people
have just gone to Mexico.

  But not only that, it is not only Mexico, it is China. To me, it's so
many products. I see it because I'm a big buyer of things, windows,
pipes or lots of different things, because I build buildings. So much of
the product -- glass, curtain walls -- so much of the product is made in
China.

  We are rebuilding China. Our economy is just getting killed. And you
look at China it is going through the roof. A friend of mine went to a
pretty much new city in China. They said unbelievable the airport and
everything else. They come back to LaGuardia. They said it is like
coming into a third world country. It is horrible what has happened.

  So somebody is going to get smart. They talk about the economy,
incentives. We are losing our jobs to other countries. You are not going
to solve unemployment unless something very, very stringent is done with
regard to China and other countries.

  VAN SUSTEREN: So what do you do to turn that around so the jobs are
staying here or coming here?

  TRUMP: I would tax Chinese products. People say that's not free trade.
What is free trade when they have billions and billions of dollars of
surplus over us? So we don't want free trade with people that are
ripping us.

  One of the reasons -- first of all their product isn't as good as
ours. If you look at windows, glass, curtain wall, it's not as good as
ours. If you look at the sheetrock people are dying because of Chinese
sheetrock. So their product is not as good as ours.

  But they manipulated their currency so it is hard to compete with
Chinese dollars, cost. What happens is the dollar versus Chinese
currency is not competitive.

  So when somebody comes in with a curtain wall for a big office
building, and it they're buying from China, it is very hard to compete
with that price. The quality, we have better. But you can't -- they just
have manipulated their currency to such a point.

  What I would do is I would tax like 25 percent tax. You want to buy
from China, that's great. But you are paying 25 percent tax. If you buy
it in this country you don't have that tax. By the way, you know what is
going happen? People are going to start creating jobs in this country
because they are not going to pay that tax.

  VAN SUSTEREN: What is the resistance to a 25 percent tax? Just a
commitment to free trade?

  TRUMP: People tell me, Donald, that's not free trade. We don't have
free trade right now. We have a country, China in particular, that is
ripping us like nobody's ripped us before. And we are rebuilding China.
Our country is so big in terms of what we buy that we are rebuilding China.

Of course, even with these kinds of statements, there is some debate as
to whether "mercantilist" is an appropriate word. He seems convinced
that China is engaging in its own mercantilism, so perhaps (but it's far
from certain!) he would support free trade if he could be convinced that
others were doing it.

Posted by Simon Lester on November 08, 2010 at 10:27 PM | Permalink


(9) US Trade treaties divide both South America, and Asia, into two blocs

http://www.eastasiaforum.org/2012/01/10/america-s-threat-to-trans-pacific-trade/

America’s threat to trans-Pacific trade

January 10th, 2012

Author: Jagdish N. Bhagwati, Columbia University and CFR

As if undermining the WTO’s Doha Round of global free-trade talks was
not bad enough (the last ministerial meeting in Geneva produced barely a
squeak), the US has compounded its folly by actively promoting the
Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

President Barack Obama announced this with nine Asian countries during
his recent trip to the region.

The TPP is being sold in the US to a compliant media and unsuspecting
public as evidence of American leadership on trade. But the opposite is
true, and it is important that those who care about the global trading
system know what is happening. One hopes that this knowledge will
trigger what I call the ‘Dracula effect’: expose that which would prefer
to remain hidden to sunlight and it will shrivel up and die.

The TPP is a testament to the ability of US industrial lobbies, Congress
and presidents to obfuscate public policy. It is widely understood today
that FTAs, whether bilateral or plurilateral (among more than two
countries but fewer than all), are built on discrimination. That is why
economists typically call them preferential trade agreements (PTAs). And
that is why the US government’s public-relations machine calls what is
in fact a discriminatory plurilateral FTA a ‘partnership’, invoking a
false aura of cooperation and cosmopolitanism.

Countries are, in principle, free to join the TPP. Japan and Canada have
said they plan to do so. But a closer look reveals that China is not a
part of this agenda. The TPP is also a political response to China’s new
aggressiveness, built therefore in a spirit of confrontation and
containment, not of cooperation.

The US has been establishing a template for its PTAs that includes
several items unrelated to trade. So it is no surprise that the TPP
template includes numerous agendas unrelated to trade, such as labour
standards and restraints on the use of capital account controls, many of
which preclude China’s accession.

 From the outset, the TPP’s supposed openness has been wholly
misleading. Toward this end, the TPP was negotiated with the weaker
countries like Vietnam, Singapore and New Zealand, which were easily
bamboozled into accepting such conditions. Only then were bigger
countries like Japan offered membership on a ‘take it or leave it’ basis.

The PR machine then went into overdrive by calling the inclusion of
these extraneous conditions as making the TPP a ‘high-quality’ trade
agreement for the 21st century, when in fact it was a rip-off by several
domestic lobbies.

American regionalism closer to home shows the US now trying to promote
the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas (FTAA). But its preferred
template was to expand the North America Free Trade Agreement (Canada,
Mexico and the US) to the Andean countries and include huge doses of
non-trade-related issues, which they swallowed. This was not acceptable
to Brazil, the leading force behind the FTAA, which focuses exclusively
on trade issues. Brazil’s former President Luiz Lula Inácio da Silva,
one of the world’s great trade-union leaders, rejected the inclusion of
labour standards in trade treaties and institutions.

The result of US efforts in South America, therefore, has been to
fragment the region into two blocs, and the same is likely to happen in
Asia. Ever since the US realised that it had chosen the wrong region to
be regional with, it has been trying to win a seat at the Asian table.
The US finally got it with the TPP, simply because China had become
aggressive in asserting its territorial claims in the South China Sea,
and vis-à-vis India and Japan.

Many Asian countries joined the TPP to ‘keep the US in the region’ in
the face of Chinese heavy-handedness. They embraced the US in the same
way that East Europeans rushed to join NATO and the European Union in
the face of the threat, real or imagined, posed by post-Soviet Russia.

America’s design for Asian trade is inspired by the goal of containing
China, and the TPP template effectively excludes it, owing to the
non-trade-related conditions imposed by US lobbies. The only way that a
Chinese merger with the TPP could gain credibility would be to make all
non-trade-related provisions optional. Of course, the US lobbies would
have none of it.

Jagdish Bhagwati is Professor at Columbia University and Senior Fellow
in International Economics at the Council on Foreign Relations, and is
the author of Termites in the Trading System: How Preferential
Agreements undermine Free Trade. This article was originally available
here at Project Syndicate and is published here with the permission of
the author.

(10) None of BRICS — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — are
part of  TPP


http://www.eastasiaforum.org/2012/10/16/tpp-may-drive-brics-into-action/

TPP may drive BRICS into action

October 16th, 2012

Author: Amitendu Palit, ISAS, NUS

The 14th round of negotiations of the Trans-Pacific Partnership took
place in Leesburg, Virginia from 6–15 September with Washington keen on
wrapping it up before the presidential election in November.

The nine countries negotiating the TPP are Australia, Brunei, Chile,
Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam and the US. Once
finalised, it will be the largest trade bloc in the Asia Pacific region
and could become even larger once Canada and Mexico join the
discussions. Japan and the Republic of Korea could also follow suit.

The TPP is an ambitious trade agreement covering several issues,
including trade in goods, tariffs and services, cross-border investment,
rules on intellectual property rights (IPR), environmental and labour
standards, and technical barriers to trade. The agreement is also trying
to make regulatory systems in member countries as compatible with each
other as possible. The 14th round of negotiations included government
procurement, trade and investment in innovative products and services,
particularly digital technologies.

The US is pushing the agreement because it considers the Asia Pacific to
be the biggest source of economic gains for its industries. Greater
trade integration of American companies with Asia Pacific economies will
create new jobs in the US and increase export earnings. The TPP,
prepared and implemented in line with US industry business interests,
will create a favourable atmosphere for the American economy’s long-term
recovery.

But the TPP has given rise to several concerns. First, the agreement
maximises US business interests and minimises those of others. The
agreement proposes strong and rigid IPR rules, using the US–ROK
bilateral free trade agreement as a benchmark.

The US–ROK free trade agreement provides strong protection to patents,
trademarks, geographical indications and copyrights for digital
products, as well as strong penalties for IPR infringements. It
criminalises end-user piracy and empowers customs officials to act
against products suspected to be counterfeits without waiting for formal
complaints.

There will be serious implications if similar or even stronger rules are
reproduced in the TPP. Patent holders would be allowed to issue criminal
proceedings on the slightest suspicion of piracy and customs authorities
would be given sweeping powers to stop the entry of pirated products.
Both these powers have high potential to be misused, and emerging-market
products using small variations on patented products will suffer the most.

The US is keen on including strong IPR rules in the TPP because it
issues the most patents and copyrights, and wants the highest protection
for its patent holders. While these rules will allow US products easy
entry into other countries, similar products from other countries may be
denied access to the US market on grounds of piracy. Rigid IPR rules are
likely to discourage innovation and increase global disputes over
violation of patents, as is evident from the patent war between Apple
and Samsung.

Second, the TPP is attempting to create a major trade bloc without some
of the biggest emerging economies. None from the BRICS group — Brazil,
Russia, India, China and South Africa — are part of the TPP. And while
the countries negotiating the TPP are all members of APEC, some major
APEC economies — in particular the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong, Taiwan,
Indonesia, Russia and Thailand — are not included in the negotiations.

China’s exclusion is strange given its huge economic presence in the
Asia Pacific. This has given rise to views that the US is driving the
TPP with the strategic objective of marginalising China.

Another concern with the TPP is its impact on Asian integration. Various
models of economic integration are being pursued in Asia. For example,
APEC is pursuing a Free Trade Area for the Asia Pacific, the East Asia
Summit is developing a Comprehensive Economic Partnership for East Asia,
and ASEAN, China, Japan and the ROK are pursuing the East Asia Free
Trade Area (EAFTA). All these efforts will be hampered by the advent of
the TPP, which will add a strong ‘non-Asian’ flavour to economic
integration efforts in Asia and force Asian economies to develop
different strategies for regional integration.

The complications created by the TPP are becoming visible in Asia. Japan
and the ROK, while expressing interest in the TPP, are also negotiating
the EAFTA. The dilemma of choosing between the TPP and other Asian trade
frameworks will affect more Asian economies.

Emerging markets like China, Brazil and India will find it difficult to
join the TPP, given its rigid rules and the US dominance. But to ensure
that the TPP does not divert global trade from them, they will need to
act together. The best thing for them to do would be to expedite BRICS’
development so that it can provide an alternative trade framework to the
TPP by creating rules that emerging market industries find easier to
implement and follow. A strong BRICS structure will also strategically
balance global trade, which could otherwise be dominated by the TPP.

Amitendu Palit is Head (Partnership & Programme) and Visiting Senior
Research Fellow at the Institute of South Asian Studies, National
University of Singapore.

This article was first published here by China Daily.

(11) Japan’s barriers to trade and investment

http://www.eastasiaforum.org/2012/11/17/removing-japans-barriers-to-trade-and-investment/

Removing Japan’s barriers to trade and investment

November 17th, 2012

Author: Glen S. Fukushima, Center for American Policy

The Japanese market is more open than many foreigners claim and more
closed than most Japanese believe.

This has been the case since the mid-1980s and still holds true today.
Foreigners attempting to do business in Japan typically confront
governmental, structural and psychological barriers to doing business.
But as Japan renews its engagement with Asia, there are many reasons to
expect that the barriers that have kept Japan and its Western trading
partners apart will be further reduced.

Governmental barriers include tariffs and various laws and government
regulations that impede market access. Many of these have been
significantly reduced or eliminated over the past 40 years, thanks in
part to bilateral and multilateral trade negotiations. Japan now boasts
the world’s lowest average level of tariffs on industrial products. Yet
it still maintains some of the highest agricultural tariffs in the
world, and in services — particularly in financial services —
regulations often pose a challenge to doing business for foreign and
Japanese companies alike.

Structural or institutional barriers are caused by close relationships
between suppliers and buyers, suppliers and subcontractors, suppliers
and distributors, regulators and companies, or corporate
cross-shareholding that have the effect of vastly advantaging
incumbents. Newcomers and outsiders are disadvantaged in most markets,
but in Japan this is magnified by the tendency to value stability,
continuity, predictability, precedence and long-term relationships. This
tendency defies the short-term economic rationality and shareholder
value that most Western companies like to believe they adhere to.

The third kind of barrier to foreigners doing business in Japan is
psychological. Most Japanese people over the age of 40 still view their
country as a small island nation devoid of natural resources that must
produce and export to survive. This partly explains why Japan still has
some of the lowest levels of manufactured imports and inward foreign
direct investment among OECD countries. Many Japanese see trade and
investment as a zero-sum game in which increased imports will harm
Japanese producers and increased inward investment will displace
Japanese companies. Japanese notions of corporate governance are
different from the Anglo-American model, which gives primacy to
shareholder value, board independence and board diversity. In Japan, the
emphasis is on corporate stability, continuity and predictability, and
on stakeholder value (that is, the interests of employees, customers,
partners and society). Companies that pursue short-term profitability,
high share prices and economic rationality as defined by Western
economic theory are the exception rather than the norm.

Yet in the past four decades Japan has removed or significantly reduced
barriers to trade and investment. The end of the Cold War, the forces of
globalisation, the maturing of the Japanese economy, the diversification
of Japanese industry and generational change have all contributed to
this process. Many Japanese who compare the Japan of today to the Japan
of the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s consider these changes to be dramatic. By
contrast, outside observers tend to evaluate changes less
chronologically than cross-nationally. That is, they are puzzled and
often frustrated that changes in Japan, although real, are so slow
compared to those seen in other countries, especially in neighbouring
East Asian countries.

This gap in perception about the Japanese market has caused many Western
companies to bypass Japan and seek business in other rapidly growing
Asian markets. Because doing business in Japan is seen as too costly,
too difficult and too time-consuming, many firms prefer to invest scarce
resources in other markets that will reap returns in shorter periods of
time. This gap in perception works both ways: Japanese observers point
to significant reforms that have opened the market to trade and
investment, and do not understand why Western companies are not more
eager to enter the Japanese market or expand their operations in Japan.

To speak of ‘the Japanese market’ is to overgeneralise, because there
are in fact many markets in Japan. The traditional, heavily regulated
energy, transportation, finance, pharmaceuticals and telecommunications
markets have only recently experienced true competition. By contrast,
newer industries have spawned companies that aspire to be truly global
players, and value products, services, management and human resources
(regardless of gender or nationality) that are globally competitive.

Another notable change in recent years is Japan’s ‘Asia shift’. This
trend, which began in the 1990s, was temporarily arrested by the revival
of the US economy and the Asian financial crisis. The Asia shift resumed
in full force after the dotcom bubble burst in 2000, and again after the
US-led financial crisis of 2008 and the recent European sovereign debt
crisis. Japanese political, government and business leaders have
concluded that their nation’s economic future lies with Asia, the
world’s fastest-growing region, both as a market to sell to and as a
platform in which to invest for research, development and manufacturing.

This shift of attention and energy to Asia has led Japan to actively
pursue a range of free trade, economic partnership and economic
integration agreements. Even the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which
includes the US, is seen by Japan as part of long-term efforts to
promote bilateral and multilateral trade and investment in Asia,
ultimately leading to the Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific. The
conclusion of these agreements would necessarily lead to reducing
tariffs, regulations and other governmental barriers to the Japanese market.

As Asia’s economy assumes a more important role for Japan, its economy
will likely become more integrated with other Asian economies. To this
extent, the barriers to trade, investment and doing business in Japan
that have caused intense controversy between Japan and its Western
trading partners since the 1960s are apt to decline in significance.

The Asia shift will make the sharp divide between Japanese and
Anglo-American notions of corporate governance less relevant. Valuing
continuity or stakeholder value over shareholder value are also features
of Asian corporate governance, which means that the often legalistic,
ideological disputes between Japan and its Western partners over issues
of corporate governance (which directly affect mergers and acquisitions,
joint ventures and strategic alliances) are less likely to be repeated.

The gradual opening of Japan’s market from the 1980s, coupled with the
growing attractiveness of the emerging markets of Asia, led many Western
companies to scale back their complaints about Japan and to redirect
their attention elsewhere. Japan’s shift towards Asia will further
reduce the trade and investment barriers that were so contentious
between Japan and its Western trading partners. A question for the
future is whether Japan’s increasing economic integration with Asia —
especially with China — will lead to a reduction of Japan’s dependence
on the US as a political and military ally, and what implications this
will have for the US policy towards Asia.

Glen S. Fukushima is Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress
in Washington, DC, and President of GSF Associates, Inc. He is former
President of the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan and former Deputy
Assistant US Trade Representative for Japan and China.

This article appeared in the most recent edition of the East Asia Forum
Quarterly, ‘Japan: leading from behind’.

(12) TPP would make most Americans Poorer

http://billmoyers.com/2013/09/17/study-mega-trade-deal-would-make-most-americans-poorer/

Study: Mega-Trade Deal Would Make Most Americans Poorer

September 17, 2013

by Joshua Holland

Last week, a new study found that the top ten percent of American
households raked in over half of the nation’s income in 2012. The
results were widely reported, but another study garnered less attention.
It concluded that your government is working hard to boost the incomes
of the top ten percent further, while continuing to depress the wages of
the vast majority of American families.

The study, by economist David Rosnick at the Center for Economic Policy
and Research, attempts to estimate the likely effects on wages from the
Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a mega-trade deal that’s been
negotiated out of view of the public, with what government transparency
watchdogs call an “unprecedented level of secrecy.”

The TPP is a proposed deal between twelve countries in the Americas and
Asia. It would expand an already controversial agreement between Chile,
New Zealand, Brunei, and Singapore – if finalized, it would become the
biggest trade pact ever.

These kinds of regional deals are the neoliberal response to widespread
opposition to the World Trade Organization (WTO), and they include the
most controversial provisions on multinational corporations’ wish-lists
– measures that have been stuck at the WTO for years.

Public Citizen calls the TPP a “corporate power tool for the one
percent.” According to a leaked draft agreement, the treaty would
establish independent tribunals that would allow corporations to bypass
member countries’ judicial systems to challenge domestic laws and
regulations that interfere with their business. According to an analysis
of the text by Public Citizen, “the tribunals would be staffed by
private sector lawyers that rotate between acting as ‘judges’ and as
advocates for the investors suing the governments” – a conflict of
interest that would never stand in an American courtroom. The tribunals
could order countries to pay monetary damages to foreign investors if
they didn’t comply with the rulings. Fair trade activists call it a back
door to deregulation.

Writing at the Campaign for America’s Future, Dave Johnson notes that
Chile’s lead negotiator recently quit his job in order to warn that “the
TPP is solidifying multinational corporate control over the Internet,
copyrights [and] patents (especially drug patents),” and that “giant
financial interests are solidifying their current control over the
regulatory process.” (Last year, New York Times reporter Gretchen
Morgenson detailed how Wall Street might use international trade deals
to derail reforms like Dodd-Frank.)

That’s a lot of controversy. Yet according to Rosnick, economists
estimate that the TPP will have only a miniscule impact on our overall
economic growth in the future – if enacted, it’s projected to increase
U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by only 0.13 percent between 2015 and
2025. As Rosnick puts it, “this figure is meaninglessly tiny in almost
any reasonable context.”

But the distributional effects are anything but trivial. Rosnick expects
those at the bottom of the ladder to be protected by minimum wage laws,
those at the top – highly paid professionals and the investor class — to
see their incomes increase significantly as a result of TPP’s expanded
patent protections and intellectual property rights, and the vast
majority in the middle to experience yet more downward mobility.

Estimates of how much trade has contributed to rapidly rising economic
inequality vary. In his study, Rosnick extrapolated the TPP’s impact on
wages based on four different estimates of how much trade deals have
contributed to rising inequality in the past. The graphic below
illustrates his results.

All four estimates result in the median wage – the one right in the
middle of the pile – declining in absolute terms. Rosnick writes, “thus,
under any reasonable assumptions about the effect of trade on
inequality… the majority of workers” will suffer “a net loss as the
result of these trade agreements.” And again, the pact’s overall impact
on growth would be negligible.

This dynamic – those at the top grabbing a bigger share of the pie while
the rest of us lose ground – is typical of these trade deals for the
simple reason that they’re not negotiated with the greater good in mind.
Rather, they provide a shining example of how economic inequality and
political inequality are inexorably linked. As former trade negotiator
Clyde Prestowitz writes in Foreign Policy, the winners of these trade
agreements are always “going to be the shareholders — the guys at the
Business Roundtable who dominate the ‘cleared advisors’ to the trade
representative and who, of course, are investing most of the money
that’s being invested to make this deal happen. They own it, so it’s
likely that they will win something from it.” They’re the only ones who
can even take a look at what’s being discussed behind closed doors by
TPP negotiators; the only ones who have the U.S. trade representative’s ear.

This is what proponents of these pacts overlook or ignore. They rely on
idealized economic theories of trade to argue that signing more binding
trade deals will lift all boats. And in a perfect world, those theories
might hold true. But in reality, these deals are about corporate
lobbyists getting their firms’ narrow, bottom-line interests codified
into international trade law – the one area of international law that is
readily enforceable. That a majority of workers, the environment, food
safety and public health regulations and a host of other priorities are
given short shrift should come as no surprise – those things don’t help
powerful multinationals’ bottom lines.

Joshua Holland is a senior digital producer for BillMoyers.com. He’s the
author of The Fifteen Biggest Lies About the Economy (and Everything
Else the Right Doesn’t Want You to Know about Taxes, Jobs and Corporate
America) (Wiley: 2010), and host of Politics and Reality Radio. Follow
him on Twitter or drop him an email at hollandj [at] moyersmedia [dot] com.

(13) TPP chiefs back tariff elimination, but Japan resists

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/10/06/business/tpp-chiefs-unite-on-tariff-elimination/

TPP chiefs back tariff elimination; Japan reviews ‘untouchable’ list

Rule on imports upheld as trade talks gear up for political round

Kyodo

Oct 6, 2013

Ministers of the 12 countries in the Trans-Pacific Partnership
negotiations agreed Sunday to uphold a basic rule on tariff eliminations
to wrap up their three-day meeting on Bali and pursue a deal by the end
of the year.

As they sought to compile work plans for advancing talks on contentious
areas, the ministers held market access talks covering tariff
elimination rules and intellectual property rights, among other issues,
despite the existence of sensitive products in each country.

A member of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party sent to
keep track of developments at the talks told reporters afterward that
the situation is tough, and the LDP is now looking into the possibility
of eliminating tariffs on items once considered untouchable, including rice.

“We need to consider whether we can remove them (from protection) or
not,” said Koya Nishikawa, head of the LDP’s TPP committee. But that, he
emphasized, doesn’t necessarily mean the ruling party has tariff removal
in mind, he claimed.

“If it doesn’t hurt (Japanese agriculture), it would be up to the
government to negotiate” and hammer out the policies, he said.

Japan is under strong pressure from its farmers to keep tariffs in place
for five items: imported rice, wheat, beef and pork, dairy products and
sugar. The latest development, however, could undermine their efforts. [...]

The 12 TPP countries — Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan,
Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and
Vietnam — have been aiming to reach a broad agreement this month.

(14) Lew’s bid to hasten TPP talks gets mixed response in Tokyo

http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0000793757

The Yomiuri Shimbun

November 14, 2013

Yuya Yokobori and Kunihiko Yasue / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff Writers

U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew’s meetings in Tokyo with Finance
Minister Taro Aso and Akira Amari, minister in charge of Tran-Pacific
Partnership affairs, indicated a growing sense of urgency from the
United States, which wishes to conclude talks on the TPP free trade
agreement by the end of this year.

Lew confirmed with the Japanese ministers that the two countries will
cooperate to conclude TPP negotiations by the year-end. However,
political observers believe it is likely they had a heated exchange of
words during the meetings, particularly regarding agricultural issues.

Shortly after noon Tuesday, Lew paid a courtesy call to Prime Minister
Shinzo Abe at the Prime Minister’s Office. The two agreed that Tokyo and
Washington must closely cooperate over the TPP.

But sources said that the meeting between Lew and Amari, which was held
just before the courtesy call, involved a heated exchange of words.

According to Amari, Lew requested that Japan make more efforts about
specific trade items.

The sources assumed that Lew was demanding compromises even over the
abolition, or lowering, of tariffs in about five trade item categories,
which the Liberal Democratic Party regards as sanctuary items, such as
rice, wheat and barley.

After the meeting, Amari said, “I told [Lew] just how important as
political tasks Japan’s sensitivities have become.” Sensitivities refer
to trade items that should be very carefully treated in the TPP talks.

Amari also said, “I told [Lew] that the United States seemingly fails to
understand how hard the domestic circumstances have been for our
administration on this issue.”

The sources said Aso, who also is deputy prime minister, also told Lew,
“Japan’s agricultural issues are not so easy.”

Lew, Amari and Aso confirmed the two countries will collaborate, but the
debate highlighted opinion gaps that still exist between the Japanese
and U.S. sides. [...]

(15) Trans Atlantic Partnership: US & Europe clash over Snowden,
Financial Regulation


http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/10/06/us-eu-us-trade-analysis-idUSBRE99503D20131006

Canceled EU-U.S. talks complicate trade ambitions

By Robin Emmott and John O'Donnell

BRUSSELS | Sun Oct 6, 2013 6:18pm EDT

(Reuters) - Even before the cancelation of the latest round of EU-U.S.
talks, negotiations to create the world's largest free-trade deal were
getting into difficulty territory.

France won a concession to leave European movies and entertainment out
of the pact, to shield them from Hollywood and Silicon Valley, raising
concerns Washington may pursue opt-outs for its shipping industry on
security grounds.

Then the first round of talks in July were overshadowed by reports the
United States had bugged European Union offices under its surveillance
program made public by fugitive former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

Now, just before negotiators were due to get down to the nitty gritty in
the search for a deal by the end of next year, the U.S. government's
partial shutdown has forced next week's talks in Brussels to be scrapped.

If that were not enough, a split is emerging between Europe and the
United States on one of the most critical areas of the proposed pact:
finance.

"This delay is not fatal, but if the U.S. shutdown drags on and you are
taking things off the table like culture and financial services, it is
not a good way to start," said Stuart Eizenstat, a former U.S.
ambassador to the European Union.

"This postponement may complicate the timetable of completing the talks
by the end of 2014," Eizenstat said.

EU and U.S. officials say the deal, known as the Transatlantic Trade and
Investment Partnership, could boost economic output by some $100 billion
a year on each side of the Atlantic, creating a market of 800 million
people.

After five years of crisis, both see a deal as a way to reinvigorate
their economies that account for a third of world trade when China's
might threatens their global standing.

SECOND ROUND

So it was with some frustration that U.S. Trade Representative Michael
Froman rang his EU counterpart Karel De Gucht on Friday to cancel the
second round of talks because of the effects of the Congressional budget
dispute.

De Gucht, who handles trade for the EU's 28 countries, said the
postponement "in no way distracts us from our overall aim of achieving
an ambitious trade and investment deal."

Assistant U.S. Trade Representative Dan Mullaney is expected in Brussels
on Monday to find a date for a second round of talks. Much depends on
the U.S. shutdown, while Congress must act by October 17 in to avoid a
U.S. government debt default.

Agreeing a deal by the end of 2014 is the goal of both sides, because
the European Commission's term ends in November next year and the United
States holds mid-term elections.

Since tariffs between the EU and United States are already low, around
80 percent of the gains of any agreement will come from creating common
rules for business.

The great, hoped-for benefit is that by agreeing shared regulatory
standards, many costs and hurdles hindering transatlantic business will
be removed, making the two economies even more dynamic and speeding the
wheels of trade and industry.

However, an emerging dispute is over finance.

The EU wants financial regulation to be a central part of the deal,
whereas Washington is resisting, worried about losing control over its
financial industry.

Financial ties between Europe and the United States are already huge,
accounting for 60 percent of world banking. EU investors own $2.7
trillion of U.S. stocks and bonds, while U.S. residents hold almost as
much in Europe.

EMERGENCY AID

However, the United States and European countries regulate banks,
insurers and traders in very different ways, particularly in the $630
trillion derivatives industry.

Never was the difference more evident than during the financial crisis,
when Washington moved quickly in 2008 to tackle problems at its banks.
Five years on, the European Union is still struggling to impose order on
its financial system and has had to give emergency aid to five countries.

This is mirrored in regulation, where the two sides have also clashed
over the control of derivatives, with Washington demanding that global
trading involving U.S. firms be subject only to U.S. rules, regardless
of where it happens.

Europe wants a pact that spells out which regulators are responsible for
what activities. Some EU officials even talk about creating new EU-U.S.
institutions to oversee finance.

The United States' Froman, a former adviser to President Barack Obama,
has expressed Washington's reluctance.

"There has been an explosion of regulatory activity," Froman said in
Brussels on September 30, making clear Europe and the United States
could not merge their financial regulation. "That work should continue
in parallel," he said.

U.S. officials fear a deal with Europe could water down their signature
reform since the financial crisis, the 848-page Dodd-Frank Act,
introduced in 2010 to discourage risk-taking.

In Europe there is a cacophony of approaches to regulation, despite
Brussels' efforts to impose a federal-style system.

"In the United States, there are strong federal regulators," said
Anthony Belchambers, head of the Futures and Options Association, which
represents banks involved in derivatives in Europe. "Here in Europe,
supervision and enforcement remain a matter for each of the member
state's regulatory authorities. That is not going to change any time soon."

(Additional reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; Editing by David Holmes)

(16) WikiLeaks releases part of draft TPP treaty

http://rt.com/usa/wikileaks-tpp-ip-dotcom-670/

TPP Uncovered: WikiLeaks releases draft of highly-secretive
multi-national trade deal

Published time: November 13, 2013 17:36

Details of a highly secretive, multi-national trade agreement in the
works have been published by WikiLeaks, and the whistleblower group’s
founder warns there will be vast implications for much of the modern
world if the contract is approved.

Details of a highly secretive, multi-national trade agreement long in
works has been published by WikiLeaks, and critics say there will be
major repercussions for much of the modern world if its approved in this
incarnation.

The anti-secrecy group published on Wednesday a 95-page excerpt taken
from a recent draft of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, a
NAFTA-like agreement that is expected to encompass nations representing
more than 40 percent of the world’s gross domestic product when it is
finally approved: the United States, Japan, Mexico, Canada, Australia,
Malaysia, Chile, Singapore, Peru, Vietnam, New Zealand and Brunei.

(17) Australians may pay the price in Trans-Pacific Partnership free
trade agreement


http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/australians-may-pay-the-price-in-transpacific-partnership-free-trade-agreement-20131113-2xh0m.html

November 14, 2013

Philip Dorling

Australians could pay more for drugs and medicines, movies, computer
games and software, and be placed under surveillance as part of a US-led
crackdown on internet piracy, according to details of secret trade
negotiations exposed by WikiLeaks.

A leaked draft of a controversial chapter of the Trans-Pacific
Partnership free trade agreement reveals the negotiating positions of 12
countries including Australia on copyright, patents and other
intellectual property issues, with a heavy focus on enforcement measures
against internet piracy.

Intellectual property experts are critical of the draft treaty, which
they say would help the multinational movie and music industries,
software companies and pharmaceutical manufacturers to maintain and
increase prices by reinforcing the rights of copyright and patent
owners, clamping down on online piracy, and raising obstacles to the
introduction of generic drugs and medicines.

The leaked treaty text also reveals new US and Japanese proposals
designed to enhance the ability of pharmaceutical manufacturers to
extend and widen their patents on drugs and medicines.

Proposals with the potential to impact significantly on Australia's
Pharmaceuticals Benefits Scheme include a requirement that patents be
available for new uses of existing drugs, effectively allowing
''evergreening'' of existing patents; compensation to companies for
delays in the grant or extension of patents; and measures to ensure data
exclusivity to allow companies to prevent competitors, specifically
manufacturers of generic medicines, from using past clinical safety and
efficacy data to support approval of new products.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has indicated he is keen to see the trade
talks pushed to a successful conclusion next month, saying that
''there's always horse-trading in these negotiations, but in the end …
everyone is better off''.

Intellectual property law expert Matthew Rimmer said the draft was
''very prescriptive'' and strongly reflected US trade objectives and
multinational corporate interests ''with little focus on the rights and
interests of consumers, let alone broader community interests''. ''One
could see the TPP as a Christmas wish list for major corporations; and
the copyright parts of the text support such a view,'' Dr Rimmer said.
''Hollywood, the music industry, big IT companies such as Microsoft, the
pharmaceutical sector would all be very happy with this.''

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade recently excluded
journalists from TPP industry briefings held in anticipation of the next
round of negotiations that begins in Salt Lake City, Utah, next week.

Dr Rimmer noted Australia appeared ''generally supportive'' of the US or
otherwise ''quite passive'' in the negotiations. The leaked draft shows
the US and Japan oppose wording, supported by most other countries, that
highlights the importance of ''maintain[ing] a balance between the
rights of intellectual property holders and the legitimate interests of
users and the community''. [...]

The full transcript of the leaked negotiating text can by found at
www.wikileaks.org.

(18) TPP would help Monsanto achieve Global Food Dominance - Ellen Brown

From: Paul de Burgh-Day <pdeburgh@harboursat.com.au> Date: Wed, 27 Nov
2013 11:42:03

Monsanto, the TPP, and Global Food Dominance

by Ellen Brown

Published on Tuesday, November 26, 2013 by Common Dreams

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/11/26-9

[...] A ban on GMO and glyphosate use might go far toward improving the
health of Americans. But the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a global trade
agreement for which the Obama Administration has sought Fast Track
status, would block that sort of cause-focused approach to the
healthcare crisis. [...]

The TPP and International Corporate Control

As the devastating conclusions of these and other researchers awaken
people globally to the dangers of Roundup and GMO foods, transnational
corporations are working feverishly with the Obama administration to
fast-track the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement that would
strip governments of the power to regulate transnational corporate
activities. Negotiations have been kept secret from Congress but not
from corporate advisors, 600 of whom have been consulted and know the
details. According to Barbara Chicherio in Nation of Change:

     The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) has the potential to become the
biggest regional Free Trade Agreement in history. . . .

     The chief agricultural negotiator for the US is the former Monsanto
lobbyist, Islam Siddique.  If ratified the TPP would impose punishing
regulations that give multinational corporations unprecedented right to
demand taxpayer compensation for policies that corporations deem a
barrier to their profits.

     . . . They are carefully crafting the TPP to insure that citizens
of the involved countries have no control over food safety, what they
will be eating, where it is grown, the conditions under which food is
grown and the use of herbicides and pesticides.

Food safety is only one of many rights and protections liable to fall to
this super-weapon of international corporate control. In an April 2013
interview on The Real News Network, Kevin Zeese called the TPP “NAFTA on
steroids” and “a global corporate coup.” He warned:

     No matter what issue you care about—whether its wages, jobs,
protecting the environment . . . this issue is going to adversely affect
it . . . .

     If a country takes a step to try to regulate the financial industry
or set up a public bank to represent the public interest, it can be sued
. . . .

Return to Nature: Not Too Late

There is a safer, saner, more earth-friendly way to feed nations. While
Monsanto and US regulators are forcing GM crops on American families,
Russian families are showing what can be done with permaculture methods
on simple garden plots. In 2011, 40% of Russia’s food was grown on
dachas (cottage gardens or allotments). Dacha gardens produced over 80%
of the country’s fruit and berries, over 66% of the vegetables, almost
80% of the potatoes and nearly 50% of the nation’s milk, much of it
consumed raw. According to Vladimir Megre, author of the best-selling
Ringing Cedars Series:

Essentially, what Russian gardeners do is demonstrate that gardeners can
feed the world – and you do not need any GMOs, industrial farms, or any
other technological gimmicks to guarantee everybody’s got enough food to
eat. Bear in mind that Russia only has 110 days of growing season per
year – so in the US, for example, gardeners’ output could be
substantially greater. Today, however, the area taken up by lawns in the
US is two times greater than that of Russia’s gardens – and it produces
nothing but a multi-billion-dollar lawn care industry.

In the US, only about 0.6 percent of the total agricultural area is
devoted to organic farming. This area needs to be vastly expanded if we
are to avoid “the sixth mass extinction.” But first, we need to urge our
representatives to stop Fast Track, vote no on the TPP, and pursue a
global phase-out of glyphosate-based herbicides and GMO foods. Our
health, our finances and our environment are at stake.

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