Campaign against the TPP

I post various arguments against the TPP Trans Pacific Partnership that has been signed and to be ratified by each country. Updates first: The TPP text has been released and our fears confirmed – it’s time to organise major activities. It is not over yet.Unions and communities in US, New Zealand and Japan are gearing up for a big fight. ISDS underpins all of the TPP – environment, workers rights, medicines, privatisation. Sovereignty is emerging as a major public concern around which many can be united and mobilised.
Melbourne meeting The next meeting of the TPP – Unions and Community Roundtable Monday 16 November 6pm AMWU National Offices Cnr. Queensberry and Leicester streets, North Carlton entry Queensberry street. mobile: 0417456001
Public meeting Sydney TPP Public Forum 1pm November 18 NSW Parliament House
Public Forum The TPP: What’s the Devil in the Detail? Wednesday November 18, 2015, 1pm-2pm Jubilee Room NSW Parliament House Macquarie St, Sydney
Follow details from AFTINET
Legal expert says ISDS safeguards in TPP worthless and Coalition can’t confirm it won’t be sued for environment laws.
Trade deal opens Australia up to attacks from multinationals
Despite claims to the contrary the ISDS provisions of the Trans Pacific Partnership are everything critics feared, and a huge win for large corporations. Despite what now looks a token effort to address criticisms of investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanisms, the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement will do little to protect Australia from vexatious suits and multinational profiteering.

OHS and the Trans-Pacific Partnership

At the end is a report of mass protests in Germany against their “free trade” process.
The TPP gives foreign corporations privileges that can override domestic laws on environmental health and citizens’ rights. Here’s why we shouldn’t let it pass without a fight.
1. One of the ways the TPP defends and promotes U.S. profits is by re-orienting the economies of the pact’s other partners toward the United States and away from China.
“Ichiro Fujisaki, a former Japanese ambassador to the United States, described the Trans-Pacific Partnership as ‘economic glue to cement ties with like-minded countries,’ including emerging economies such as Vietnam that are only partly integrated into the global economic order shaped by the United States.” [14]

The TPP isn’t as much about free trade as it is about restricting trade and investment within a US-dominated bloc.

During talks, U.S. negotiators “aiming to bolster American exporters” stipulated “that countries joining its new Pacific trade zone cut back on imports from China.” U.S. negotiators demanded that “Vietnam, a major garments exporter, reduce its reliance on textiles made in China… to get preferential market access to the U.S.” Washington’s goal was “to create new markets in Vietnam for the U.S. textile industry.” Since the “U.S. and Mexico are especially large textile producers, Vietnam would simply have to shift its sourcing of yarns and fabrics from China to the U.S. and Mexico.” [15] This exemplifies the entire aim of the U.S.-initiated TPP: to disrupt China’s growing trade relations with its neighbors in order to bolster U.S. profits.
The Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington estimates that the TPP will “cost China about $100 billion a year in lost exports as the partners trade more among themselves and less with China.” [16]

2.Why the Trans-Pacific Partnership Equals a U.S. Aircraft Carrier
October 17, 2015 By Stephen Gowans

The U.S. political elite is never entirely secretive about its aims. It spells them out, maybe not always clearly and maybe sometimes elliptically, but it is fairly open in declaring its objectives and how it intends to achieve them. When she was U.S. secretary of state, Hilary Clinton adumbrated the Trans-Pacific Partnership in a 2011 article in Foreign Affairs, the magazine of the Council on Foreign Relations, an elite-consensus forming organization which Laurence H. Shoup in a recent book dubbed “Wall Street’s Think Tank”, and, in an earlier book, an “imperial brain trust.” [1]

In “America’s Pacific Century,” Clinton announced that the Obama administration was “working with China to end unfair discrimination against U.S. and other foreign companies or against their innovative technologies, remove preferences for domestic firms, and end measures that disadvantage or appropriate foreign intellectual property.” [2] Which is exactly what the TPP sets out to do, except—and this is a significant point—without China. Read more here

3. “The TPP is meant to isolate China while the U.S. expands its presence in the Pacific (Part of the Pentagon’s ‘Full Spectrum Dominance’) turning its partners in the TPP trade deal into cheap labor colonies without rights that will serve U.S. interests.”

“The TPP is about the U.S. dominating the Asia-Pacific through trade agreements accompanied by its political and military presence to ensure that the multi-national corporations continue to make profits while pushing the Chinese dragon into the corner.”

Melbourne antiTPP

4. Campaign for a Fair deal or no deal.

Fears over copyright, drug affordability and sovereign determination … the Trans-Pacific Partnership is clouded in secrecy and might not herald the free trade dream leaders promise.
Melbopurne October 2015 rally outside French multi-national Veolia that is suing the Egyptian Government for raising their minimum wage. Why? Because agreements like ChAFTA and the TPP allow businesses to sue countries if their governments make laws that lower their profits.
AFTINET has many details and analysis
Take Action: for a Fair Deal or No Deal in the TPP
TPP Threatens Workers’ Conditions, Health and Safety, the Environment and our Sovereignty.

A successful and well attended rally with good speakers and strong union representation, including AMWU, NTEU, MUA, AWU, CPSU, CWU, ETU, VTHC, ACTU and others. Several community and environmental organisations. Great work by TPP Unions and Community Roundtable Coalition in organising the rally and bringing together different groups and unions with many common concerns about the impact of TPP. Get involved, join the TPP Unions and Community Roundtable Coalition. Send us a message.
Photos Melbourne Unions, Community Groups, Greens protest.Workers rights are under attack, stand up fight back.
Terry Mason NTEU National Tertiary Education Union executive member indigenous activist explains how aborigines are worse off under the TPP. The TPP threatened indigenous communities being able to safeguard ownership of natural and traditional medicines due to changes in copyright, plus the right to freehold and native title lands.

“From an Aboriginal perspective, this is a new form of colonialism,” Mr Mason said.


Glen Thompson AMWU explains how workers loose out with the TPP and corporate dominance over Australia’s democracy.
It’s outrageous that a government in a democracy can negotiate an agreement that has such an impact on our country and does so in total secrecy.”
Australian SIGTUR and a coalition of community and unions have joined global protests this week against the Trans Pacific Partnership with rallies highlighting how it would let foreign corporations stand over any member nation’s right to enforce its own rule of law.

The effort saw unionists and activists take to the streets of Melbourne and Perth, targeting French multinational Veolia as an example of a company willing to sue a nation in an international trade tribunal for loss of profits due to government change of laws.

The protests outside the waste management firm’s offices were co-ordinated by a community alliance including SIGTUR, Australia’s peak union bodies and Friends Of The Earth.
indigenous activists and an Australian Senator all highlighted the secrecy still surrounding the TPP and calling for immediate release of its text before it comes before the parliaments of each of the 12 signatory nations.

Veolia was singled out because it has used Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions like those featured in the TPP.

It sued the Egyptian Government for raising that country’s minimum wage from $US53 to $US99 a month, which the company said was one reason it had lost its waste management contract in that nation.

Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, Glenn Thompson, said the use of ISDS lawsuits had exploded globally,with 10 lawsuits in 1994 rising to 300 by 2007 and 608 last year.

The litigants were mainly US and Eurozone corporations.

Glenn Thompson said these treaty tribunals had no fixed composition – a lawyer prosecuting for a corporation could easily be sitting as a judge on another case within a few days, with no further avenues of appeal.

“This is about global corporates controlling Government policy in relation to our people, it’s about making sure global profits can’t be hurt,” Mr Thompson said.

“It’s outrageous that a government in a democracy can negotiate an agreement that has such an impact on our country and does so in total secrecy.”

He pointed out that conservative judges, the neo-liberal Australian Productivity Commission and right-wing business journalists also had misgivings about the TPP, in particular the ISDS provisions.

Australian Greens Senator Peter Whish-Wilson said the Trans Pacific Partnership was less about free trade – which made up only a tiny proportion of its text – than a trojan horse for setting up a global corporate governance agreement.

“ISDS are special clauses given to multinationals corporations to manage the commercial ‘risk’ of democracy,” he said.

“They are totally unnecessary, they add nothing to the flow of international capital except risk.”

He feared the Senate trade committee he was a member of may be powerless to change the agreement when the text was released, or stop it being rushed and rubber stamped through the Australian Parliament without proper scrutiny.

A new US Peterson Institute study showed that developed nations would get negligible economic growth out of the TPP, with Australia getting a minuscule 0.5 per cent over an entire decade.

Australian Council of Trade Unions assistant secretary Scott Connolly told the Melbourne crowd: “If we sought to deliver an outcome to our union members like that at the bargaining table, we would be crucified.

“We wouldn’t do it, but we have a Government trying to ram it down our throats.”



NTEU Serena O’Meley said the Australian Opposition, the Labor Party, had a national duty to stand up against ISDS and not roll over to vote up the agreement.

“Labor really needs to come out strongly against ISDS, it’s not good enough to say they oppose it, they have to fight it,” she said.

Peter Martin in The Age: the TPP sells sovereignty for little return
Earlier on this post anti-TPP is ACTU policy. Agreed at the ACTU Congress Kevin Bracken MUA Victoria and Arthur Rorris South West Trades and Labour Council that all unions are calling for Abbott to release the TPP for Parliament and public debate; END TO SECRECY. We know its all about more dominance by corporations. Multi-nationals want to have their interests override our Australian standards, that undermines our sovereignty. We are supposed to be independent. This is a big battle in US as 600 of their top companies want them but are facing huge opposition; so, is the campaign building in the pacific nations; we all want our workers rights to be protected; our environmental protection; our health standards etc The campaign against the TPP is hotting up.
TPP Profit
Earlier at The Unions-Communities Roundtable on TPP at the ACTU Conference Fringe Event, attended by nearly 100 participants, including ACTU union delegates and representatives from Choice, Get Up, Friends of the Earth, Spirit of Eureka, Western Suburbs Unions and Communities, AFTINET, Lawyers Alliance, Stop TPP Australia, and others. Strong speeches by Greens Senator Peter Whish Wilson,Andrew Dettmar, Pat Ranald and Sam Castro and others. Unanimously passed motion calling on the government to release the secretive TPP text or withdraw from negotiations immediately.

4. GreensantiTPPjpgThe Sydney anti-TPP rally was organised by GetUp! and the Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network and called on Trade Minister Andrew Robb to scrap the United States-led deal, which will “set the rules” for business in the region.
Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon attended the rally near the US consulate, calling for the deal to be “scrapped entirely.”
Protesters rally against the TPP.
“It’s not about negotiating, it’s not about fixing it up, it’s about scrapping it entirely. You’ve heard three great speakers today that have set out how dangerous this agreement would be on so many fronts, literally to the standards and the quality of life in this country. From health to labour standards, to environment and action on climate change.”
Also in attendance was federal Labor MP Kelvin Thomson and representatives from the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association, expressing their concern that the TPP could delay access to cheaper versions of biologic medicines and create price rises at the chemist.

Lesley Gruit is on the working committee of the Australian Fair Trade Investment Network and said all people with an interest in legislation should be very concerned about the TPP.
“I’m particularly offended by the fact that there is the ability for corporate entities to sue government over areas that we would consider to be areas of national interest. For example Phillip Morris, using a fairly obscure trade agreement from its base in Hong Kong, suing us because Nicola Roxon’s administration quite rightly brought in plain packaging in the interests of public health.”

Read more:

Stop TPP
Leaked language from the agreement’s intellectual property chapter has been worrisome enough—and the public has no idea what is in the latest official draft, or even what the U.S. Trade Representative is pushing for in this agreement. There has been zero transparency in a process that is being pushed to the finish.

Getup What TPP means

The TPP has the potential for real harm
By Ian Verrender
Updated 16 Mar 2015, 8:55am

Trade Minister Andrew Robb
PHOTO: Andrew Robb hopes to ink yet another trade deal, his fourth since being elected to government just 18 months ago (AAP: Alan Porritt)
Most free trade agreements deliver little in the way of benefits, apart from photo opportunities for politicians, but the highly secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership has the potential for real harm in Australia, writes Ian Verrender.

You can almost picture it.

Palms swaying gently in a breeze laden with the heady scent of plumeria, a troupe of women in grass skirts, hips gyrating to the intoxicating rhythm of ukuleles and the soulful sounds of a Polynesian choir as the sun sinks beneath the Pacific in a riot of ever darkening orange.

“Where do I sign?” the trade ministers cry in unison before toasting themselves with yet another pina colada.

Trade ministers, their chief negotiators and raft of bureaucrats and assorted hangers on from 12 Pacific rim countries have been gathered in Waikoloa, on the Kona coast of Hawaii – known as the Big Island and not to be confused with tourist dominated Oahu – for the past week.

It’s here that our very own trade minister, Andrew Robb, hopes to ink yet another trade deal, his fourth since being elected to government just 18 months ago.

But this will be no ordinary trade deal. This is the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP for those in the know.

It is a deal mired in controversy and bitter argument that, over the decade or so since its proposal, has become less about trade and increasingly about politics.

Specifically, it is about American politics, and its attempts to cement its place as a regional superpower against the growing influence of China and entrench the might of its multinational corporations.

It has also caused a huge debate within the US with the trade deal roundly criticised by everyone from academics such as Nobel prize winning economist Paul Krugman to workers who watched US jobs evaporate in the wake of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Now the Democrats have split with Senator Elizabeth Warren hoping to steal votes from Hillary Clinton in the upcoming race for presidential candidate.

But this is a deal that could – and that’s the operative word because no one knows any of the details – cost Australians dearly, particularly if our negotiators fail to protect our rights as they did in the Australia-US Free Trade Agreement in 2005.

While the negotiations have been hammered out in secret for all these years, enough detail has been leaked to give rise to serious concerns about some of the provisions and the impact it could have on Australian sovereignty.

The biggest concern is over intellectual property rights, particularly over pharmaceuticals.

As part of the deal, large American pharmaceutical corporations want to extend the life of their patents, arguing that having spent billions to bring their research to fruition they should be entitled to a just reward so they can invest the profits into developing new medicines.

On the surface, it sounds like a reasonable argument.

The irony is that a patent essentially limits free trade. And America is using the auspices of a free trade agreement to push through changes that would inhibit competition by shutting out generic manufacturers. That means consumers will pay more for medicines for much longer.

The other major issue revolves around what is known as investor state dispute settlements. These clauses open the door to foreign companies to launch legal action against a democratically elected government, thereby undermining sovereign rights.

This has become a common inclusion in free trade agreements in recent years. The most celebrated case is being fought between tobacco giant Philip Morris and the Australian government over plain packaging of cigarettes.

Should it win here, it will strengthen its case to continue selling tobacco – an addictive drug that kills vast numbers of people – around the globe.

In a recent interview with Fairfax, Robb assured the nation that he would not sign away our rights or do anything that may harm the national interest.

Let’s hope so. But given the secrecy around the entire deal, we’ll never know until after the ink is dry. And by then it will be too late.

What is it with politicians and free trade agreements? And how useful are they?

The answer to the first question is that they provide wonderful photo opportunities in exotic locales while giving the impression of triumph, all great fodder for the next election campaign. The answer to the second question is: generally, not very much.

That may come as a shock to anyone who’s studied economics and, in particular, the work of the father of modern economics, Adam Smith.

Smith – in his seminal work the Wealth of Nations – astutely observed that consumers should be allowed to buy goods from the cheapest source. All protection did was to create monopolies that he described as “a great enemy to good management”.

Great strides have been made in reducing global trade barriers in the decades since the end of World War II. And that’s one of the problems. There now are far fewer trade barriers to break down.

Those that remain – particularly around agriculture – have proven so difficult to remove that they have thwarted the ultimate goal of free global trade, which has forced governments to do individual deals with one another.

A 2010 Productivity Commission study into Australia’s bilateral and regional trade deals concluded that while some businesses had benefitted from the furious signing of new agreements, “it appears that businesses generally have made limited use of the opportunities available from Australia’s existing BRTA”.

The Productivity Commission concluded that the best way to benefit from free trade was for a country to remove its own trade barriers, just as Australia already has done.

Even a survey conducted by the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, while supporting free trade agreements, found that accessing the benefits was a “hit and miss” exercise.

In another damning report last year, the business lobby group said most agreements were so poorly drafted and so complex that they were next to useless in a commercial sense.

One of the most worrying aspects of the current round of negotiations, given the potential to entrench the interests of big American corporations, is the extent to which Australian negotiators failed in similar dealings a decade ago when the Australia US Free Trade Agreement was signed.

Again, it was intellectual property rights that formed a major part of proceedings. That section alone, an 11,500 word agreement in baffling legalese, is open to broad interpretation for anyone with an army of lawyers on hand.

According to Murdoch University Professor Anna George, the Australia US deal of a decade ago allows firms to “cherry pick” legal obligations. That means a company could take action to block labelling or bypass standards associated with policies to tackle obesity or diabetes, or information on use of antibiotics in cattle or fish.

A recent case where firms producing sunscreens with nano-particles were not required to label them as such appears to be a case in point.

And yet that deeply flawed deal appears to be the starting point for negotiations with Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Still, as they say, ignorance is bliss. Andrew Robb hopes to have this new agreement in the bag by the end of the week or maybe early next month at the latest.

Pass me a mai tai.

Ian Verrender is the ABC’s business editor.

TTIP is a ‘revolution against international law’, says UN Expert
Nick DeardenNick Dearden 16 October 2015 Trade
“Globalization cannot be allowed to become the grand global casino where investors rig the system to guarantee that they always win.” UN human rights expert Alfred-Maurice de Zayas doesn’t mince his words when it comes to the new generation of trade deals like TTIP.

He believes the corporate court system at the centre of the deal, which allows foreign companies to sue governments in secret “is tantamount to a revolution against law, it is retrogression in terms of legality and predictability, a no-man’s land of arbitrary arbitrations.”

Read here‘revolution-against-international-law’-says-un-expert

Australia’s imminent TPP disaster: Crowning corporations
Dr Matthew Mitchell 13 February 2015,7368
NZ anti-TPP tpp-comic-mat_bradysatire_comp

A Wonderful Parade Against TTIP in Germany
by Victor Grossman

It was a day to remember, a date for the record books! It marked a surprising development in German politics! And who said Germans don’t like protest marches or demonstrations? The organizers counted 250,000, a quarter of a million.

…Of great interest to me were sentiments often heard from the sound trucks and reflected in more than a few posters. One, more than clear, stated: “Take TTIP and shove it — and Capitalism with it!”

Although this giant event included large contingents from the unions, not just leftist ones but even the conservative Building Workers or the Miners and Chemical Workers’ Union, the crowds seemed to happily accept or even cheer calls for a change of the system. It would be false to overestimate this, I am sure, yet it seemed to mark a renewed rebellious and progressive trend.

read here


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