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  • Eyes on Trade is a blog by the staff of Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch (GTW) division. GTW aims to promote democracy by challenging corporate globalization, arguing that the current globalization model is neither a random inevitability nor "free trade." Eyes on Trade is a space for interested parties to share information about globalization and trade issues, and in particular for us to share our watchdogging insights with you! GTW director Lori Wallach's initial post explains it all.

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October 17, 2014

A Trade Storm Is Brewing

At the beginning of the year, we warned you about the upcoming trade tsunami. Well hold on to your hats everyone, because another “trade” storm is heading our way.

Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiators are meeting in Australia this month and are aiming to finish the massive 12-country “trade” agreement.

Despite mounting evidence that the TPP should not be completed — including the leak of another part of the top-secret text earlier this week — President Barack Obama wants the TPP done by November 11. That is when he will be meeting with other TPP-country heads of state in China at the Asia-Pacific Economic Conference.

With the TPP’s threats to food safety, Internet freedom, affordable medicine prices, financial regulations, anti-fracking policies, and more, it’s hard to overstate the damage this deal would have on our everyday lives.

But the TPP isn’t the only threat we currently face. We are also up against the TPP’s equally ugly step-sisters: TAFTA and TISA. And Obama wants to revive the undemocratic, Nixon-era Fast Track trade authority that would railroad all three pacts through Congress.

The Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA) is not yet as far along as the TPP, but TAFTA negotiations recently took place in Washington, D.C., and more are set for a few weeks from now in Brussels. The largest U.S. and EU corporations have been pushing for TAFTA since the 1990s. Their goal is to use the agreement to weaken the strongest food safety and GMO labeling rules, consumer privacy protections, hazardous chemicals restrictions and more on either side of the Atlantic. They call this “harmonizing” regulations across the Atlantic. But really it would mean imposing a lowest common denominator of consumer and environmental safeguards.

The Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) is a proposed deal among the United States and more than 20 other countries that would limit countries’ regulation of the service sector. At stake is a roll back of the improved financial regulations created after the global financial crisis; limits on energy, transportation other policies needed to combat the climate crisis; and privatization of public services — from water utilities and government healthcare programs to aspects of public education.

TPP, TAFTA and TISA represent the next generation of corporate-driven “trade” deals. Ramming these dangerous deals through Congress is also Obama’s impetus to push for Fast Track. Fast Track gives Congress’ constitutional authority over trade to the president, allowing him to sign a trade deal before Congress votes on it and then railroad the deal through Congress in 90 days with limited debate and no amendments. Obama opposed Fast Track as a candidate. But now he is seeking to revive this dangerous procedural gimmick.

Because of your great work, we’ve managed to fend off Fast Track so far. This time last year, the U.S. House of Representatives released a flurry of letters showing opposition to Fast Track from most Democrats, and a wide swath of Republicans. This is something the other side was not expecting, and they were shocked. We won that round, but Obama and the corporate lobby are getting ready for the final push.

Because Fast Track is so unpopular in the House, Speaker John Boehner has a devious plan to force the bill through Congress in the “lame duck” session after the November elections. We need to make sure our “ducks” are in a row before that.

Some members of Congress are working on a replacement for Fast Track. U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) says he will create what he calls “Smart Track.” It is not yet clear if this will be the real Fast Track replacement we so desperately need, or just another Fast Track in disguise.

Sen. Wyden will want to be ready to introduce his Smart Track bill right as the new Congress starts in January 2015. This means we have only a couple of months left to make sure his replacement guarantees Congress a steering wheel and an emergency brake for runaway “trade” deals.

With all these deadlines drawing near, it’s clear that a knock-down, drag-out fight is imminent. But we will be ready. The TPP missed deadlines for completion in 2011, 2012, and 2013 — if we keep up the pressure, we can add 2014 to that list as well. That’s why there will be a TPP/TAFTA/TISA international week of action Nov 8-14 — more details coming soon!

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Comments

Elan Carlson

I truly believe Clinton's NAFTA sent us in a horrendous tailspin -- NO MORE so-called "Free Trade!!!"

Ellen

These trade deals MUST be stopped! NAFTA was one of the biggest errors made by President Clinton. That deal and every one since has harmed American workers!

l

I believe this hurts American jobs, and American safety.

C.D.Rinck Sr.

NAFTA was one of the biggest blunders and blows to the U.S.
worker and equitable foreign trade.
Most people blame Pres. Clinton for NAFTA, but if you
remember correctly, it was initiated by Daddy Bush and
held over Clinton's head by the Republican controlled Congress, for him to get other legislation he wanted.
THIS TYPE OF HOSTAGE-TAKING HAS GOT TO STOP!!!

Barry King

I'm all for foreign trade , lets trade our corporate guru's and most of all our political flunkies also. Then we can believe in god bless America.

ROBERT G WILSON  SR

how can we as concerned citizens stop this???

Gloria Watkins

I am reporting from another aspect. I wrote on this issue before. Once again, I repeat that the goods and services that are forced down our throats do not meet USA standards. The shoes, made of Urethane are awful causing itchy, burning feet and you cannot wear the m a full day. I HAVE AN IRON circa NAPTA that has never worked right. These Internet companies are selling products that I wouldn't put on my cat. I know because I have been bitten. Somebody, (Obama, and his family does not have to try to save money thinking that he is getting a good deal). I have written to him about this issue (don't know if he got to read it). But, some of the insiders need to inform him that introducing additional "Fast Track" and all of those others "disservices" on our citizens is just WRONG. I had one hell of a time trying to find some affordable every day shoes made of leather and rubber. I found that I am allergic to Urethane. No problem if you are wealthy. What about our Citizens that are out of work because USA shoemakers are so greedy that they put greed over USA human care. I presume, that I am not the only person who have bought these cheap products and thought they were doing themselves a favor. Me, Myself, and I would rather pay a little more and get a righteous good product. You lose money when you buy products that you can't use. Human care before greed. That's my motto. I finally found a place that sells shoes made of natural elements at a semi-reasonable price I ordered two pairs. I am reluctant to even eat the processed foods. In re: to Seafood. Go to seafoodwatch.com and check it out for yourself. I sure do not want to eat anything processed in China. They are some low-down people and the way they raise and process their fish is a Sin Before God. I could go on and on but I know you all know what I am talking about Thanks

Peter3Dogs mulshine

trade deals Only benefit importers

Gary Griswold

Is no one in Washington listening or even thinking of the impact these trade agreements will have on the quality of life in this and other countries? The only thing they will impact positively is the lives of importers. Just how many votes come from the importers? Trade agreements, bah, Humbug!

Les Aisenman

As one of the small manufacturers who was destroyed by the rush to the bottom of Big Corporate destruction of our manufacturing base and the Political Corporatists they sired and engendered (read Reagan, Bushes, Clinton and Obama), I can attest to the ever-growing power of the Multi-national Corporations that are the real perpetrators of this rape, not only of America, but of the world. The authoritarian creep of our increasingly controlled society with its ever growing wealth and opportunity inequalities moves closer every day to Mussolini's Corporate Dream of the Fascist State. Only todays Corporations dream of placing the state beneath the level of the corporation and subject to its will, rather than merely cooperating with it to control society. I had dreamed of leaving the world a better place. If fear it is on a Fast-Track to Corporate Dominated Hell!

moises benmuhar

USA HAS LONG FORGOTTEN THE ROOTS OF OUR DEVELOPMENT AS A GREAT NATION. WE MUST BE COMMITTED TO THE BETTERMENT OF OUR CITIZENS AND THE ORGANIZATIONS THAT PROVIDE JOBS FOR EVERYBODY. OUR POLITICIANS ELECTED BY US HAVE TURNED THEIR BACKS AGAINST US AND IN CORRUPT COLLUSSION HAVE TRADED THEIR DUTY FOR FAVOR$$$ TO MULTI NATIONAL MOGULS. THIS UNFORTUNATE IISSUE STARTS IN THE EXECUTIVE OR LEGISLATIVE BRANCHES AND THEN RECEIVES THE
ENDORSEMENT OF THE JUDICIAL. WE MUST PROTEST AND DE MASK ALL PERPATRATORS.

M Brent Pittman

All politicians need to create good paying American jobs with good benefits for American citizens by repealing all sales/consumption taxes & replace the lost revenue with an import tax/tariff on imported labor (India & the Philippines) & manufactured goods (Mexico & Communist China, North Korea & Vietnam). Burn both the federal & state individual income tax codes & give each income receiving American citizen a $50000 standard deduction while keeping current dependent exemptions. Then tax the next $50000 at 2%, the next $50000 at 4%, the next $50000 at 6%, etc. until the federal & state budgets are balanced. Collect impact fees. NO corporate welfare. NO illegal aliens. Increase the minimum wage. Burn USA business & corporate income tax codes & place a "fair tax" (with a standard
deduction of $10 Million) on ALL USA business & corporate sales/revenue including foreign after deducting compensation and benefits for American citizens' labor; except for CEO's and their immediate subordinates. Tax the second $10 Million at 1%, the third $10 Million at 2%, etc. All standard deductions & exemptions should be adjusted for inflation. Collect an export tax on natural resources/commodities such as oil, natural gas & grains. These strategies will reduce government spending, inflation, income inequality, declining real median family income and increase demand for "Made in America".

Alisa A. Simmons

The world needs a new trade model. We're on the fast track to nowhere with these NAFTA-style trade deals.

Patricia Vargo

The United States has done nothing but loose with all these trade agreements. STOP these trade agreements!

Elizabeth Waldron

No more shady deals that benefit others and harm our interests..

Alex Wipf

Just say NO!

Sharon Rothe

I feel once again that President Obama has betrayed me and all of us who believed he was a different kind of politician. His "YES WE CAN!"has become "No I Won't Let You!"

Louise Frazier

"Trade" implies something fairly given for something in a fair return. These trade deals represent gross unfairness---unfair to the people of the world in their daily lives, freedoms, and rights, including right livelihood.

They must cease! They must not be entered into in our names unless we participate in their outcomes---not just a few powerheads! Open and clear presentations, voting on their approval must be by all the people!

Mark Rolofson

President Obama has betrayed the many progressives that helped to elect him twice. Washington isn't listening to the people, its beholden to the big money corporate interests. We no longer have a functioning democracy. I had hoped the TPP would go away, but to learn that there are now more trade agreements brewing is most disturbing. Our mainstream media is ignoring these trade agreements that are negotiated in secret. Thank god for Wikileaks. What the Democratic Party needs to understand is if they continue to support unfettered free trade, fracking for rabid oil & gas development, a militarized police state and never ending war, many of us will start voting for third party candidates.

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