Friday, November 06, 2015

TPP - 'Worse Than We Thought'

"From leaks, we knew quite a bit about the agreement, but in chapter after chapter the final text is worse than we expected with the demands of the 500 official U.S. trade advisers representing corporate interests satisfied to the detriment of the public interest," said Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch.

On issues ranging from climate change to food safety, from open Internet to access to medicines, the TPP "is a disaster," declared Nick Dearden of Global Justice Now.

"The TPP is an act of climate denial," said 350 policy director Jason Kowalski. "While the text is full of handouts to the fossil fuel industry, it doesn’t mention the words climate change once.” What it does do, however, is give "fossil fuel companies the extraordinary ability to sue local governments that try and keep fossil fuels in the ground," Kowalski continued. "If a province puts a moratorium on fracking, corporations can sue; if a community tries to stop a coal mine, corporations can overrule them. In short, these rules undermine countries’ ability to do what scientists say is the single most important thing we can do to combat the climate crisis: keep fossil fuels in the ground."

We now have concrete evidence," said Michael Brune, Sierra Club’s executive director, "that the Trans-Pacific Partnership threatens our families, our communities, and our environment. It’s no surprise that the deal is rife with polluter giveaways that would undermine decades of environmental progress, threaten our climate, and fail to adequately protect wildlife because big polluters helped write the deal." 

Friends of the Earth (FOE) said in its response to the final text, the agreement "is designed to protect 'free trade' in dirty energy products such as tar sands oil, coal from the Powder River Basin, and liquefied natural gas shipped out of West Coast ports." The result, FOE warned, will be "more climate change from carbon emissions across the Pacific."
"President Obama has sold the American people a false bill of goods," said FOE president Erich Pica. "The TransPacific Partnership fails President Obama's pledge to make the TPP an environmentally sound trade agreement."

Matthew Rimmer, a professor of intellectual property and innovation law at Australia's Queensland University of Technology and trade policy expert, told Fairfax Media it looks like U.S. trade officials have been "greenwashing" the agreement. "The environment chapter confirms some of the worst nightmares of environmental groups and climate activists," Rimmer told the news outlet. "The agreement has poor coverage of environmental issues, and weak enforcement mechanisms. There is only limited coverage of biodiversity, conservation, marine capture fisheries, and trade in environmental services."

With its provisions that tie the hands of food inspectors at international borders and give more power to biotechnology firms, "the TPP is a giveaway to big agribusiness and food companies," said Wenonah Hauter, Food & Water Watch executive director. Such corporate entities, she said, want to use trade deals like the TPP "to attack sensible food safety rules, weaken the inspection of imported food, and block efforts to strengthen U.S. food safety standards." according to Food & Water Watch, the final text released Thursday indicates that under a TPP regime, "agribusiness and biotech seed companies can now more easily use trade rules to challenge countries that ban GMO imports, test for GMO contamination, do not promptly approve new GMO crops or even require GMO labeling. The TPP food safety and labeling provisions are worse than expected and bad news for American consumers and farmers," said Hauter. "Congress must reject this raw deal that handcuffs food safety inspectors and exposes everyone to a rising tide of unsafe imported food."

"If U.S. Congress signs this agreement despite its blatant corruption, they'll be signing a death warrant for the open Internet and putting the future of free speech in peril," stated Evan Greer, Fight for the Future (FFTF) campaign director. Among the "several sections of grave concern" identified by FFTF are those covering trademarks, pharmaceutical patents, copyright protections, and "trade secrets." Section J, which addresses Internet Service Providers (ISPs) "is one of the worst sections that impacts the openness of the Internet," according to the digital rights group, which explained further: This section requires Internet Service Providers to play "copyright cops" and assist in the enforcement of copyright takedown requests -- but it does not require countries to have a system for counter-notices, so a U.S company could order a website to be taken down in another country, and there would be no way for the person running that website to refute their claims if, say, it was a political criticism website using copyrighted content in a manner consistent with fair use. Section J makes it so ISPs are not liable for any wrongdoing when they take down content—incentivizing them to err on the side of copyright holders rather than on the side of free speech.

SOYMB blog is not at all surprised. We fully expected TPP to be pro-business. We are once again being screwed but what else can we expect from capitalism, certainly not social or economic justice. 

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