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Posts Tagged ‘Trans-Pacific Partnership

Monsanto’s about to celebrate their biggest coup ever, but we have only hours left to stop them. 

The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a huge, ultra-secret deal among twelve major countries that would give corporations unprecedented power — allowing them to use new global tribunals to sue our governments for passing laws that protect us, but reduce their profits!

This could apply to everything from labeling GMO foods to protecting internet freedom.

Wikileaks has broken the story and opposition is building fast, but the countries are rushing to seal the deal within 24 hours.

This is insane, but we have a chance to stop it — 3 countries are wobbling, and if they pull back now the whole deal could crumble.

If we deluge leaders in Chile, New Zealand and Australia with a global call to stand strong, we can stop this corporate takeover before Monsanto uncorks the champagne. Sign up now and share this with everyone:

Twelve countries are about to agree a trade deal that would let companies sue our governments to get rid of laws that protect us, but reduce their profits! Now, with 48 hours to go, three countries are wobbling. If we deluge them with a call to stand strong, we can stop this corporate takeover before Monsanto uncorks the champagne.

The leaked Trans-Pacific Partnership drafts read like an extended Christmas wish-list for big business — it would set a global standard of companies imposing their will on our governments through an opaque system of tribunals.

These courts could limit access to cheap generic medicines in favour of branded medicines, and even allow cigarette companies to sue governments over health regulations that they say threaten profits! It’s almost too crazy to be true.

But practically no one has heard of the TPP!

The talks are so secretive that not even our elected lawmakers know what’s in it — just the negotiators and 600 corporate lobbyists.

Now leaked texts have shocked politicians and citizens from Chile, New Zealand, and Australia. And they are pushing back on the corporate bullying, and against the US that is hell-bent on getting a deal agreed before there is too much public scrutiny.

The TPP affects us all — it infringes on our rights and undermines our democracies just to protect the corporate bottom line. And we only have hours to stop it.

It can be easy to feel small in the face of big corporate forces driving our governments.

But people, not money, are the true source of power. Time and again, our community has proved that when we come together to protect our rights against corporate takeover, we can win. Let’s now stop this unprecedented threat to our democracies.

Alice, David, Jooyea, Alex, Aldine, Julien, Ricken, and the Avaaz team


WikiLeaks publishes secret draft chapter of Trans-Pacific Partnership (The Guardian)

Full text of the leaked draft text (Wikileaks)

The Trans-Pacific Partnership treaty is the complete opposite of ‘free trade’ (The Guardian)

Fast track risky path for Pacific trade pact (Seattle Times)

For Free Trade’s Sake, Get IP Out of the TPP (Huffington Post)

Philip Morris Leads Plain Packs Battle in Global Trade Arena (Bloomberg)

Corporate power unbound: No remedies decided for the next financial crisis

Governments are liberating global corporations from the rule of law and leaving them to rip the world apart

international assault on democracy?

What have governments learned from the financial crisis?

I could write a column spelling it out. Or I could do the same job with one word: nothing.

The lessons learned are counter-lessons, anti-knowledge, new policies that could scarcely be better designed to ensure the crisis recurs, this time with added momentum and fewer remedies.

And the financial crisis is just one of the multiple crises – in tax collection, public spending, public health and, above all, ecology – that the same counter-lessons accelerate.

 Andrew Bossone shared this link

“This, in a world of accelerating complexity and booming corporate crime, is pure recklessness.

But fear not, they say: economic power no longer needs to be subject to the rule of law. It can regulate itself.”|By George Monbiot
Step back a pace and you see that all these crises arise from the same cause.
Players with huge power and global reach are released from democratic restraint. This happens because of a fundamental corruption at the core of politics.
In almost every nation the interests of economic elites tend to weigh more heavily with governments than do those of the electorate.
Banks, corporations and landowners wield an unaccountable power, which works with a nod and a wink within the political class. Global governance is beginning to look like a never-ending Bilderberg meeting.

As a paper by the law professor Joel Bakan in the Cornell International Law Journal argues, two dire shifts have been happening simultaneously.

On one hand governments have been removing laws that restrict banks and corporations, arguing that globalisation makes states weak and effective legislation impossible. Instead, they say, we should trust those who wield economic power to regulate themselves.

On the other hand, the same governments devise draconian new laws to reinforce elite power.

Corporations are given the rights of legal persons. Their property rights are enhanced. Those who protest against them are subject to policing and surveillance – the kind that’s more appropriate to dictatorships than democracies.

Oh, state power still exists all right – when it’s wanted

Many of you will have heard of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

These are supposed to be trade treaties, but they have little to do with trade, and much to do with power.

They enhance the power of corporations while reducing the power of parliaments and the rule of law.

They could scarcely be better designed to exacerbate and universalise our multiple crises – financial, social and environmental. But something even worse is coming, the result of negotiations conducted, once more, in secret: a Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA), covering North America, the EU, Japan, Australia and many other nations.

Only through WikiLeaks do we have any idea of what is being planned.

It could be used to force nations to accept new financial products and services, to approve the privatisation of public services and to reduce the standards of care and provision.

It looks like the greatest international assault on democracy devised in the past two decades. Which is saying quite a lot.

So the self-hating state proclaims that it has no power while destroying its own capacity to legislate.– internationally and at home As if the last financial crisis had not occurred, and as if unaware of what caused it.

George Osborne, in his most recent speech to the City of London, told his audience of bankers that “a central demand in our renegotiation is that Europe stops costly and damaging regulation”.

David Cameron has boasted of running “the first government in modern history that at the end of its parliamentary term has less regulation in place than there was at the beginning”.

This, in a world of accelerating complexity and booming corporate crime, is pure recklessness.

But fear not, they say: economic power no longer needs to be subject to the rule of law. It can regulate itself.

Some of us have long suspected that this is bunkum with bells on. But until now, suspicion is all we’ve had.

This week the first global review of self-regulation is published. It was commissioned by Britain’s Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, but it covers every sector from payday lenders to dog breeders. And it shows that in almost all cases – 82% of the 161 schemes it assessed, voluntary measures have failed.

For instance, when the European Union sought to reduce the number of pedestrians and cyclists killed by vehicles, it could simply have passed a law instructing the vehicle manufacturers to change the way they designed their bumpers and bonnets, at a cost of roughly €30 a car. Instead, it relied on a voluntary agreement with the industry. The result was a 75% lower level of protection than a law would have delivered.

When the Welsh government introduced a 5p charge for plastic bags, it cut their use by 80% overnight. The Westminster government claimed that self-regulation by the retailers would do the job just as well. The result? A grand reduction of 6%.

After seven wasted years, it succumbed last month to the obvious logic, and introduced a charge.

Voluntary schemes designed to prevent the advertising of junk food to children in Spain, to cut greenhouse gases in Canada, to save water in California, to save albatrosses from long-liners in New Zealand, to protect cosmetic surgery patients in the UK, to stop the aggressive marketing of psychiatric medicines in Sweden: fail, fail, fail, fail.

What the state could have done with a stroke of the pen cheaply and effectively is left instead to the fumbling efforts of industries that, even when sincere, are fatally undermined by free riders and opportunists.

In several cases, companies begged for new laws to raise standards throughout the industry. For example, those who make plastic silage wrappings for farmers tried to get the UK government to raise the recycling rate, while garden companies wanted regulations to phase out the use of peat. The governments refused.

Was this the result of blind ideology or grubby self-interest – or both? The biggest donors to political parties tend to be the worst operators, using their money to keep malpractice legal (consider Enron).

Because the parties they fund bow to their wishes, everyone else is forced to adopt their low standards.

I suspect that governments know as well as anyone that law is more efficient and effective than self-regulation, which is why it is not used.

Restraining the electorate, releasing the powerful: this is a perfectly designed formula for a multidimensional crisis. And boy, are we reaping it.

Canada election: Liberal back in power.

Justin Trudeau PM promised half cabinet formed of women

Late father Pierre Trudeau ruled Canada for 13 years.

He has promised half will be women — Toronto’s Carolyn Bennett and Chrystia Freeland and B.C. Liberal stalwart Joyce Murray are contenders.

Ralph Goodale leads the pack for finance minister, on the lengthy list of old hands and rising stars of both sexes who were elected.

Najat Rizk shared this link via Joelle Abou Farhat Rizkallah

In selecting Canada’s next finance minister, Prime Minister-designate Justin Trudeau can pick between an old hand, a Toronto business executive and the head of his economic advisory group whose stimulus advice helped carry the Liberal Party to power in Monday’s election.

The election produced 88 female MPs, a record number of women elected, which includes 50 Liberal MPs. Trudeau has said half of his cabinet ministers will be women.

Trudeau has signaled confidence in former journalist Chrystia Freeland’s ability to manage an economic file, naming her co-chair of his economic panel along with Scott Brison, and as party spokeswoman on trade in the last parliament. Freeland was re-elected, now in the new Toronto riding of University-Rosedale.

Other prominent female Liberal lawmakers include Judy Foote, a former Newfoundland cabinet minister; Joyce Murray, British Columbia’s former environment minister; Carolyn Bennett, a Toronto doctor and veteran Liberal lawmaker and Ottawa lawyer Catherine McKenna.

Another cabinent contender is newly-elected Toronto businessman Bill Morneau, who won in Toronto Centre. He formerly chaired the C.D. Howe research institute.

Another cabinent contender is newly-elected Toronto businessman Bill Morneau, who won in Toronto Centre.

He formerly chaired the C.D. Howe research institute.

Trudeau, 43, may choose to emphasize stability by naming Ralph Goodale, who was finance minister the last time the Liberals were in power a decade ago.

Goodale, 66, was first elected in his 20s when Pierre Trudeau, Justin’s father, was prime minister. Goodale has also served as minister of natural resources and public works.

Newly-elected in Toronto-Centre, Bill Morneau would have closer contacts with the financial hub of Toronto, having run for office after leaving a job as executive chairman of human-resources consulting firm Morneau Shepell Inc. and chairman of the C.D. Howe research institute.

Brison, a veteran lawmaker from Nova Scotia who started out as a Progressive Conservative, enjoys perhaps the closest direct relationship with Trudeau, serving as co-chair of the leader’s economic advisory panel.

All those candidates won their districts according to preliminary results from Canada’s election agency.

The new finance minister will help Trudeau craft a budget to fulfill a pledge for a middle-class tax cut funded by boosting taxes on the highest earners, a key plank of the plan that unseated Conservative Leader Stephen Harper’s government in Monday’s election.

The Liberals also plan to run deficits to revive an economy crippled by low oil prices, to set a price on carbon emissions and to boost infrastructure spending.

Investors will breathe easier after voters gave the Liberals a majority of seats in the House of Commons, according to Hamish Telford, head of the political science department at the University of the Fraser Valley.

“Companies hate uncertainty,” Telford said by phone. “At least they’ll be relieved that it’s a majority which means more stability.”

Liberal cabinets have often been a mix of “big spend” progressives and more right-leaning candidates, said Jonathan Rose, who teaches political studies at Queen’s University.

“People in the business community may have some questions about his bona fides,” he said of Trudeau’s ability to deliver on his campaign promises.

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau (left) along with Liberal MP Carolyn Bennett (right) escort recently elected Liberal MP Chrystia Freeland, of the Toronto centre riding, into the House of Commons in Ottawa, Monday January 27, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand


Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau (left) along with Liberal MP Carolyn Bennett (right) escort recently elected Liberal MP Chrystia Freeland, of the Toronto centre riding, into the House of Commons in Ottawa, Monday January 27, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand

Other cabinet posts focused on managing Canada’s $1.8 trillion economy include the ministers of industry, trade and natural resources.

The new defence and public works ministers also must decide what type of fighter jets to buy after Trudeau said he would reject Lockheed Martin Corp.’s F-35.

The new cabinet will need to decide whether to ratify a trade pact that Harper’s government negotiated this month, gaining access to the dozen nations in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, while giving up some protection for Canada’s dairy and automotive industries. Trudeau has said he favours trade agreements, but needs to see the full details of the TPP deal.

Based on considerations including region of representation, gender, diversity balance and language, here are some other possible cabinet contenders:

Joyce Murray at a rally in Vancouver Sunday. The former B.C. environment minister, who ran for the Liberal leadership in 2013, easily won her Vancouver-Quadra riding on Monday night.


Joyce Murray at a rally in Vancouver Sunday. The former B.C. environment minister, who ran for the Liberal leadership in 2013, easily won her Vancouver-Quadra riding on Monday night.

• Marc Garneau is a former astronaut from Montreal, where the Liberals draw much of their support in Quebec. He served as the party’s spokesman on foreign affairs in the last parliament and in the past as Liberal spokesman on the industry and natural resource portfolios.

• Dominic LeBlanc is a former head of the Liberal caucus in the Atlantic provinces and a former house leader who controlled the party’s day-to-day legislative moves.

• The other members of Trudeau’s economic advisory panel include Goodale, former Royal Bank of Canada economist and minister John McCallum and Judy Sgro, spokeswoman on the industry file and a former immigration minister.

• Navdeep Bains has been a key organizer for the Liberals in the immigrant community around Toronto, and has been the party’s critic for trade and natural resources.

• The Liberals have several people with experience that would be relevant for the portfolios of public safety, justice and defense. Bill Blair is a former Toronto police chief, Andrew Leslie is a former army Lieutenant General who led international forces in Afghanistan, and Lawrence MacAulay of Prince Edward Island is a former two-term Solicitor General under former Prime Minister Jean Chretien.

• Those with a strong regional profile include Jody-Wilson Raybould, a prominent leader from Canada’s aboriginal community based in Vancouver. Hunter Tootoo is a former lawmaker from Nunavut, one of Canada’s three northern territories, and Jim Carr is a prominent Manitoba business leader.

Former journalist Seamus O’Regan from Newfoundland and former Montreal mayoral contender Melanie Joly are also star candidates brought in after Trudeau became party leader.

Freedom of expression is extremely scary:  Trans-Pacific Partnership deal text confirms

Wikileaks has released what it claims is the full intellectual property chapter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the controversial agreement between 12 countries that was signed off on Monday.

TPP was negotiated in secret and details have yet to be published.

But critics including Democrat presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, unions and privacy activists have lined up to attack what they have seen of it.

Wikileaks’ latest disclosures are unlikely to reassure them

Andrew Bossone shared a link.
President Obama meets with agriculture and business leaders to discuss the benefits of the Trans-Pacific Partnership for American business and workers. Photograph: Martin H Simon/EPA|By Sam Thielman

One chapter appears to give the signatory countries (referred to as “parties”) greater power to stop embarrassing information going public.

The treaty would give signatories the ability to curtail legal proceedings if the theft of information is “detrimental to a party’s economic interests, international relations, or national defense or national security” – in other words, presumably, if a trial would cause the information to spread.

A drafter’s note says that every participating country’s individual laws about whistleblowing would still apply.

“The text of the TPP’s intellectual property chapter confirms advocates warnings that this deal poses a grave threat to global freedom of expression and basic access to things like medicine and information,” said Evan Greer, campaign director of internet activist group Fight for the Future.

“But the sad part is that no one should be surprised by this. It should have been obvious to anyone observing the process, where appointed government bureaucrats and monopolistic companies were given more access to the text than elected officials and journalists, that this would be the result.”

Among the provisions in the chapter (which may or may not be the most recent version) are rules that say that each country in the agreement has the authority to compel anyone accused of violating intellectual property law to provide “relevant information […] that the infringer or alleged infringer possesses or controls” as provided for in that country’s own laws.

The rules also state that every country has the authority to immediately give the name and address of anyone importing detained goods to whoever owns the intellectual property.

That information can be very broad, too: “Such information may include information regarding any person involved in any aspect of the infringement or alleged infringement,” the document continues, “and regarding the means of production or the channels of distribution of the infringing or allegedly infringing goods or services, including the identification of third persons alleged to be involved in the production and distribution of such goods or services and of their channels of distribution.”

TPP is now facing a rough ride through Congress where President Obama’s opponents on the right argue the agreement does not do enough for business while opponents on the left argue it does too much.

Obama has pledged to make the TPP public but only after the legislation has passed.

Michael Wessel was one of the advisers who was asked by the US government to review what he said were woefully inadequate portions of the document. Wessel said the thrust of the TPP does nothing for Americans. “This is about increasing the ability of global corporations to source wherever they can at the lowest cost,” he said.

“It is not about enhancing or promoting production in the United States,” Wessel said. “We aren’t enforcing today’s trade agreements adequately. Look at China and Korea.

Now we’re not only expanding trade to a far larger set of countries under a new set of rules that have yet to be tested but we’re preparing to expand that to many more countries. It would be easier to accept if we were enforcing today’s rules.”

Wessel said that ultimately, the countries currently benefiting from increased outsourcing of jobs by American firms aren’t likely to see wages rise above a certain level.

“If you look in other countries, Mexico and India and others – there’s been a rise in the middle class but there’s been stagnation for those we’re hoping to get into the middle class,” Wessel said. “Companies are scouring the globe for countries they can get to produce most cheaply.”

That, he said, results in constant downward pressure on American wages. “Companies are not invested here the way we’d like them to; they’re doing stock buybacks and higher dividends,” Wessel continued.

They may yield support for the stock-holding class but it’s not creating jobs.”

Note: Are the names of those countries also a secret?


The TPP Will Finish What Chile’s Dictatorship Started

Late Chili President Salvador Allende said at the UN in1972, a speech given less than a year before the US masterminded a military coup d’état that overthrew him and killed him:
“We are faced by a direct confrontation between the large transnational corporations and the states. The corporations are interfering in the fundamental political, economic and military decisions of the states.
The corporations are global organizations that do not depend on any state and whose activities are not controlled by, nor are they accountable to any parliament or any other institution representative of the collective interest. In short, all the world political structure is being undermined.”

Neoliberalism is hard to define. It could refer to intensified resource extraction, financialization, austerity, or something more ephemeral, a way of life, in which collective ideals of citizenship give out to marketized individualism and consumerism.

This September 11th will be the forty-second anniversary of the US-backed coup against the democratically-elected Chilean government, led by the Socialist Salvador Allende, kicking off a battle that is still being fought: in Chile, protests led…

Like rust, neoliberalism never sleeps.

The global rentier class that enriches itself off the neoliberal property-rights regime had, a decade ago, hoped to lock down Latin America under the hemisphere-wide Free Trade Agreement of the Americas (FTAA).

In its original version, the FTAA was meant to be a special carve-out for Washington and Wall Street, as global “free trade” advanced under the umbrella of the Doha round of the WTO.

Kind of an economic Monroe Doctrine, whereby the United States could maintain its regional hegemony over Latin America while still promoting, when it suited, globalization.

But that scheme fell apart with the return of Latin America’s post–“Washington consensus” left, led at the time by Brazil, Venezuela, and Argentina. And the Doha round stalled.

So Washington came back with the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a 12-country treaty—including Chile, Peru, and Mexico—vigorously promoted by the Obama administration.

It’s been described nicely by Lori Wallach as NAFTA on steroids.

As others have pointed out, the TPP isn’t really about trade. Rather, it’s a supra-national regulatory straitjacket that institutionalizes Allende’s 1972 warning.

Among other things, the TPP has the effect of hiving off Brazil and Argentina from Latin America’s Pacific Rim countries. South America’s governing left is weakened and defensive, and the vitality with which Lula, Chávez, and Kirchner pushed back on any number of US initiatives—war on Iraq, trade, intellectual property, and so on—is dissipated.

In Brazil, Dilma has recently capitulated on a number of issues she had long resisted, including surveillance and the adoption of Patriot Act–like “anti-terror” legislation (not to mention her recent visit to NYC to genuflect before Henry Kissinger).

The divide-and-rule TPP would, by creating a divergent set of economic interests among neighboring countries, further limit the possibility of political solidarity against economic and security policies pushed by Washington (as this pro-TPP op-ed implies).

The TPP includes one provision that will, if activated, complete the 1973 coup against Allende:

its Investor-State Dispute Settlement mechanism (ISDS) that allows corporations and investors to “sue governments directly before tribunals of three private sector lawyers operating under World Bank and UN rules to demand taxpayer compensation for any domestic law that investors believe will diminish their ‘expected future profits.’”

You can read James Surowiecki, in The New Yorker, here on the ISDS. And here is Elizabeth Warren. And Public Citizen and The Atlantic.

The principle behind the ISDS—that corporations have an inherent right to demand compensation for any regulation that might impinge on their “expected future profits”—is a perfect negation of a major principle of Allende’s socialist program: that poor nations not only had a right to nationalize foreign property but could also deduct past “excess profit” from compensation for that property, calculated as anything above 12 percent of a company’s value.

Allende and his Popular Unity coalition not only seized the operations of the Anaconda and Kennecott mining companies but, once the sums were done, handed them overdue bills for even more money.

On September 28, 1971, Allende signed a decree that tallied the “excess profit” owed by these companies to be $774,000,000. (as might be expected, US and Canadian mining companies, including the current version of Anaconda, are strong for the TPP.)

This decree was a turning point in the history of international property rights, when Washington (which, since the Mexican Revolution, had grudgingly accepted the idea of nationalization) decided that its tolerance of Third World economic nationalism had gone on long enough.

In an October 5, 1971, meeting in the Oval Office, Treasury Secretary John Connally complained to Nixon: “He’s [Allende] gone back and said that the copper companies owe $700 million. It’s obviously a farce, and obviously, he’s a—he doesn’t intend to compensate for the expropriated properties. He’s thrown down—He’s thrown the gauntlet to us. Now, it’s our move.”

Nixon then said he had “decided we’re going to give Allende the hook.”

Connally: “The only thing you can ever hope is to have him overthrown.”

In the 1970s, socialism was, for many, on the horizon of the possible, with the principle of “excess profit” seen as a way for exploited countries to, in Allende’s words, “correct historic wrongs.”

Today, forget nationalization, much less socialism. If the TPP is ratified and ISDS put into effect, countries won’t be able to limit mining to protect their water supply or even enforce anti-tobacco regulation.

This September 11, as the Obama administration makes its final push for the TPP, it’s worth taking a moment to realize why all those people in Chile—and in Uruguay, Brazil, Argentina, Guatemala, El Salvador, and throughout Latin America—died and were tortured: to protect the “future profits” of multinational corporations.






February 2023

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