A recent negotiating round of the Trans-Pacific Partnership took place in Leesburg, Virginia from September 6th through to September 15th.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a free trade agreement being negotiated with a total of eleven different Pacific Rim countries up to now. The negotiations began with just four countries but new countries keep joining in. As of now the following countries are invovlved: Brunei, Chile, Singapore, New Zealand, U.S., Australia, Peru, Vietnam, Malaysia, Mexico, and Canada. The TPP is describe by Wikipedia as follows: In 2007, negotiations began for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a significantly expanded version of the agreement, encompassing a larger group of countries. These ongoing negotiations have drawn criticism and protest from the public and elected officials, in part due to the secrecy of the negotiations and a number of controversial clauses in draft agreements leaked to the public. 'Of the 26 chapters under negotiation, only a few have to do directly with trade. The other chapters enshrine new rights and privileges for major corporations while weakening the power of nation states to oppose them.'
On Sunday September 9 the United States Trade Representative's office held what it calls a Direct Stakeholder Engagement. The event is to allow various stakeholders to talk with negotiators one-on-one, to raise questions and share views.
There were dozens of groups represented at the 'stakeholder forum' including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce but also the Brotherhood of Teamsters. Almost 150 representatives of different interested groups gathered in a protest on a hillside after the stakeholder forum. They called for proposals being negotiated to be made public and chanted: "Flush the TPP"
Arthur Stamoulis of the Washington-based Citizens Trade Campaign who organized the protest said:“We want negotiators to release the text, to tell people what they’re proposing in our names."
Transparency has long been an issue. Many consumer, labor, environmental groups, and even some U.S. politicians want positions of participants to be made public. The TPP is supposed to be a model for future pacts. Obama hopes to double U.S. exports by 2014. However, many aspects of the negotiations concern issues other than trade especially intellectual property rights.
Sixty different groups made presentations at the forum with varying agendas from Friends of the Earth to the American Automotive Policy Council. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce along with the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America asked that the agreement contain strong protections for copyrights and patents. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said of the negotiations:“This free-trade agreement is central to America’s economic vision in Asia. By reducing market distortions and leveling the playing field, the TPP will raise the bar for competition in a way that benefits every economy in the region, whether it is an active partner in the TPP or not.” Global capital will not need a world government to ensure there are global regulations that are in its own interest. These regulations can be achieved by free trade deals that will do an end run around national laws and regulations.
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