The Trans-Pacific Free Trade Agreement: NAFTA for the Pacific Rim?
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The Trans-Pacific Free Trade Agreement
What Corporations Want in Trans-Pacific Trade Negotiations
The Trans-Pacific FTA’s Threats to Public Health
The Trans-Pacific FTA and the Environment
Trade negotiators from the United States and eight other countries have been busily negotiating the Trans-Pacific Free Trade Agreement (FTA) — sometimes called the Trans-Pacific Partnership or TPP. This regional trade deal currently includes Vietnam, Brunei Darussalam, Singapore, Malaysia, New Zealand, Australia, Peru and Chile, but is also intended as a “docking agreement” that other Pacific Rim countries would join over time, such as Indonesia, Russia, the Philippines and possibly even China. Already, Japan, Mexico and Canada have announced their intentions to join.
The Obama administration’s recent embrace of the Bush-negotiated Korea, Panama and Colombia Free Trade Agreements leaves many worried that the Trans-Pacific FTA will become nothing but a massive new NAFTA-style agreement. Indeed, while not all the negotiating text for the FTA has yet been released, it is already clear that trade negotiators are using past free trade agreements as their basic starting point for this one. The leaked text of several chapters, in fact, show rollbacks from the Bush years on topics like access to medicine.
The ongoing, multi-year negotiations over the Trans-Pacific FTA are supposed to conclude in 2012, and as such, the window of opportunity for preventing the FTA from becoming a new “NAFTA for the Pacific Rim” is rapidly closing. Here are some of the questions yet to be answered:
Labor rights: Will the Trans-Pacific FTA include labor standards based on International Labor Organization conventions, and if included, how will they be enforced?
Investment Provisions: Will the Trans-Pacific FTA include so-called “investor-state” provisions that allow individual corporations to challenge environmental, consumer and other public interest policies as barriers to trade?
Public Procurement: Will the Trans-Pacific FTA respect nations’ and communities’ right to set purchasing preferences that keep taxpayer dollars re-circulating in local economies?
Access to Medicines: Will the Trans-Pacific FTA allow governments to produce and/or obtain affordable, generic medications for sick people?
Agriculture: Will the Trans-Pacific FTA allow countries to ensure that farmers and farm workers are fairly compensated, while also preventing the agricultural dumping that has forced so many family farmers off their land?