Vaunted 2013 Deadline for TPP Passes as Singapore Ministerial Ends Without a Deal, More Talks Slated for 2014
December 10, 2013
Obama Administration Bullies Other Nations into Accepting Terms Demanded By Big Pharma, Rolls Back Bush-Era Access to Medicine Reforms; Congressionally-Demanded Labor and Environmental Standards Not Agreed, Currency Manipulation Rules Not Discussed
Thankfully, the do-or-die trade ministers meeting designed to seal a deal on the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership by the Obama administration’s much-touted 2013 deadline ended without a deal, said Public Citizen. Ominously, trade Ministers agreed to meet again in January, but no new deadline for completing the deal was set. However, many countries have caved to relentless U.S. demands that they alter their domestic patent and medicine pricing laws to meet the desires of large pharmaceutical firms.
“At this meeting, the negotiators’ political imperative to ‘make a deal’ - any deal - resulted in a raft of dangerous decisions that would severely threaten consumers’ access to affordable medicines, undermine Internet freedom and empower corporations to attack our domestic laws,” said Lori Wallach, Director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch. “At the meeting, there was an altogether new desperation to lock in a deal because the TPP is in a race against time: as more details emerge weekly about the damage TPP could do to workers, consumers and the environment, grassroots and lawmaker opposition in many countries is growing.”
The outrageous secrecy surrounding these talks means that many details from the negotiations are being kept from the public and Congress. Officials issued a short declaration announcing “substantial progress” and plans to meet in January.
“At this stage, the draft TPP text must be released so those of us who will live with the results can know just what was this so-called “progress” entailed, and at whose expense,” Wallach said. “The ploy seems to be to try to seal a deal so there is a sense of inevitability, but a TPP that would lock in a corporate wish-list of anti-consumer, anti-environment policies and promote more job offshoring will hit a wall of massive opposition.”
It appears that U.S. officials did not even raise the demand made by 260 U.S. House and 60 U.S. Senate members that TPP must include enforceable disciplines against currency cheating. But a deal without these terms is dead on arrival in the U.S. Congress.
Leaks from the secretive talks this weekend showed that against nearly every other countries’ objections, U.S. negotiators were adamantly pushing an expansion of the investor privileges and investor-state dispute settlement that expose domestic policies to attack in foreign tribunals where foreign investors can demand government compensation for policies that undermine their expected future profits. Enforceable labor and environmental standards and enforceable disciplines on unfair subsidies for state owned enterprises that the U.S. Congress has demanded are still not agreed. And U.S. officials continued to insist, against every other countries’ opposition, that the TPP ban the use of important macroprudential financial measures in every signatory country – from capital controls to speculation taxes.
“If a final deal is made on those terms, it will be a deal that will be dead on arrival in the United States,” said Wallach. “What seems to be on the table after this meeting is a deal that would ensure that the U.S. Congress never delegates its constitutional trade authority to President Obama, which really begs the question of why the other countries are willing to trade away the health and other policies on which their people rely if doing so is likely to make the eventual congressional passage of any deal less likely.”
Meanwhile, market access negotiations - the portion of the TPP that is actually about trade - were deadlocked. Some countries conditioned their willingness to agree on the medicine terms and investor-state dispute settlement on obtaining market access demands, including access to U.S. sugar and dairy markets. Japanese officials maintained the position set by the Japanese parliament, which conditioned the nation’s participation in the talks on the exclusion of key agricultural commodities from the deal’s zeroing out of tariffs.
The recent TPP negotiations were not covered by any mainstream US news outlet other than blandly supportive and entirely uninformative editorials in the NY Times and SF Chronicle. With the exception of Forbes' TPP-supportive article, the lack of coverage of a deal covering 40% of the global economy and arguably 100% of local/national regulations is anti-democratic. What can we do ensure disclosure, coverage and discourse?
Posted by: Charlotte Kahn | December 10, 2013 at 12:50 PM
Thank you so much, Lori Wallach, for being such a strong advocate for transparency on these opaque "trade agreements". You got me fired up on Thom Hartmann, and the venue in Northern Virginia with Hedrick Smith.
Keep up the good work!
Falls Church VA
Posted by: Namaimo | December 10, 2013 at 09:59 PM
I saw Lori Wallach on CSPAN and Thom Hartmann and she was extraordinary. She knows her facts and can present them fluidly.
Posted by: Dan | December 16, 2013 at 08:02 PM