"the trade agreement almost certainly will encounter stiff opposition"
October 5, 2015 9:35 AM   Subscribe

Multinational agreement reached on the Trans-Pacific Partnership treaty. Representatives of a dozen nations agreed on the TPP, a wide-ranging trade agreement for the Pacific region, excluding China. Years of discussion and months of intensive negotiating led to this consensus. Opposition continues, based on a wide range of issues. posted by doctornemo (81 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
 
Next steps TL;DR (from LA Times):

Under the fast-track legislation, the text of a trade agreement would be published 30 days after the president gives notice to Congress of his intent to sign the trade accord. The public has 60 days to review it, and then the International Trade Commission, an independent agency, has up to 105 days to produce an economic impact assessment. In this scenario, it would be next spring before Congress could vote on the package.
posted by Celsius1414 at 9:45 AM on October 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


I wanted to make a post about this, but absent the text or any real details, I couldn't really find much to link to. Courtesy of frimble, via Chat, I give you Michael Geist's perspective.

The fact that we still aren't being permitted to see the text is just egregious. This feels like international capital is just rubbing it in our face that if you work for a living, your opinion doesn't fucking matter.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 9:46 AM on October 5, 2015 [43 favorites]


From the office of the United States Trade Representative: a summary of the TPPA
posted by cendawanita at 9:47 AM on October 5, 2015 [4 favorites]


And from Joseph Stiglitz and Adam Hersh, in the runup to the signing:

The Trans-Pacific Free Trade Charade

Don’t let TPP jeopardise Malaysia’s future
posted by cendawanita at 9:50 AM on October 5, 2015 [3 favorites]


Harper (FUCK HARPER) is calling it "the new gold standard for global trade agreements,” but that "the federal cabinet has already approved a plan to spend $4.3 billion over the next 15 years to protect Canadian farmers from the impact of the agreement." It sounds awesome for Canada if billions in taxpayer dollars are going to be spent protecting Canadian interests from its effects. Also, funny that there is always plenty of money ready and waiting to go for stuff like this, but when it comes to pretty much anything else the Conservatives don't consider a priority it's ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:53 AM on October 5, 2015 [37 favorites]


Sounds like a cluster fuck along the lines of TTIP with Europe. You know, where that prick who ramped up the price of that cancer drug by 750 percent would be able to do the same in Europe and sue countries if they didn't fall in line due to local laws.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 9:57 AM on October 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


Also, funny that there is always plenty of money ready and waiting to go for stuff like this, but when it comes to pretty much anything else the Conservatives don't consider a priority it's ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

It's not about any actual concern with the people that live there. It's about spending a minimal amount of money in rural constituencies to gain easy votes in those rural conservative ridings while picking up as many seats as possible where Liberals and NDP split the vote in urban centers.

It's been the recipe for conservative power and the strengthening of that power in successive elections. Why would they stop it now?
posted by Talez at 9:59 AM on October 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


Harper likes this deal because it modestly reduced trade barriers on staple commodities and hammers Ontario manufacturing. Nothing makes him happier than a few old white men appropriating natural resources and nothing makes him sweat in the night like the thought of urban centres full organized workers.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 9:59 AM on October 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


cendawanita's link says ISP'swill not be required to monitor traffic for copyright infringement. IIRS the leaked doc seemed to imply ISP's would be required to monitor traffic. Did that get dropped?
posted by sotonohito at 10:01 AM on October 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


Who knows? One of the philosopher kings wise enough to be allowed to see the text. Not us illiterate peasants, that's for sure. We'd probably think it was witchcraft and start rioting.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 10:05 AM on October 5, 2015 [22 favorites]


The Quiet Grand Strategy of Barack Obama, Alfred W. McCoy
In his six years in office, Obama has invested diplomatic and political capital in advancing the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a prospective treaty that carefully excludes China from membership in an apparent bid to split its would-be world island right down its Pacific littoral. Surpassing any other economic alliance except the European Union, this treaty will bind the U.S. and 11 nations around the Pacific basin, including Australia, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, and Vietnam, that represent $28 trillion in combined GDP or 40 percent of gross world product and a third of all global trade. By sweeping up areas like agriculture, data flows, and service industries, this treaty aspires to a Pacific economic integration unparalleled in any existing trade pact. In the process, it would draw these highly productive nations away from China and into America’s orbit.
 The TPP Will Finish What Chile’s Dictatorship Started, Greg Grandin

Shifting centers of balance: trends undermining OPEC, Russia, and (possibly) China!, David Brin

from August: US China Trade War — Stock Market Crash, Presidential Trade Politics, Trade Policy, Customs, Antitrust and Securities, Bill Perry
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:07 AM on October 5, 2015 [18 favorites]


This is what Obama has been working the last 4 years for, the TPP, not Guantanamo, gay marriage, Obamacare, or anything else, is what he see's as his legacy. A massive giveaway of sovereignty to multinational corporations, which among other disasters, eviscerates public copyright protections. But what multinational rentiers want, multinational rentiers get.
posted by T.D. Strange at 10:08 AM on October 5, 2015 [25 favorites]


It's imperative that we not support free trade agreements that lack provisions restricting carbon pollution.
posted by BrotherCaine at 10:08 AM on October 5, 2015 [9 favorites]


In this scenario, it would be next spring before Congress could vote on the package.

Being ratified in the Canadian Parliament is no straightforward matter either. The fastest scenario requires the Harper to win a majority in the upcoming election, and even then I think it's very unlikely it would come up for a vote before the end of the year.

In a Conservative minority scenario, getting enough votes in Parliement to support the Throne Speech, never mind the TPP, would be a challenge. Trying to survive, Harper could possibly delay recalling Parliament till 2016, and I wouldn't see a TPP vote arising before spring.

Liberal or NDP governments, whether minority or majority, have a significant possibility of scrapping TPP altogether. Although I suspect a Trudeau government would ultimately pass it (with Conservative support if necessary).
posted by Kabanos at 10:19 AM on October 5, 2015




I should also add that there is also the Senate that (I think) would have to support Parliament's ratification. But I really don't see any of them opposing this.
posted by Kabanos at 10:21 AM on October 5, 2015


This is what Obama has been working the last 4 years for, the TPP, not Guantanamo, gay marriage, Obamacare, or anything else, is what he see's as his legacy.

How could you possibly know this?
posted by Atom Eyes at 10:23 AM on October 5, 2015 [12 favorites]


What happens if one country's legislature doesn't approve it? Does that scrap the whole thing? Or just remove that country from the deal?
posted by overglow at 10:26 AM on October 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


Don't these things usually take effect when a minimum number of nations pass it?
posted by sbutler at 10:33 AM on October 5, 2015


Liberal or NDP governments, whether minority or majority, have a significant possibility of scrapping TPP altogether. Although I suspect a Trudeau government would ultimately pass it (with Conservative support if necessary).

I'd be willing to eat a hat if Trudeau doesn't support it, given his support of the equally obscene C51.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:38 AM on October 5, 2015 [7 favorites]


How could you possibly know this?

What has he been burning his extremely limited political capital on with Congress? Was the White House threatening to withhold support for Democrats and aligning with Senate Republicans over finally closing Gunatanmo? Or immigration reform? Or equal pay for equal work? No, he reserved his broadest embrace for Republicans and hardball tactics against reluctant members of his own party for fast track authority for the TPP. It's really not hard to put one and one together.
posted by T.D. Strange at 10:55 AM on October 5, 2015 [14 favorites]




It's amazing to me how we've been slowly coming full circle, granting the kinds of powers and privileges to corporations that are normally afford to elected governments, taking us into a kind of global corporate feudalism.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 11:01 AM on October 5, 2015 [5 favorites]


What happens if one country's legislature doesn't approve it? Does that scrap the whole thing? Or just remove that country from the deal?

It depends on that countries constitution, and who has the power to ratify treaties in that country, but generally, a non-signature would remove them from the deal, leaving the rest of the deal intact. It's binding between any countries that sign.

Also, a legislature could (theoretically) agree with some of the terms, but not all of them, and only be bound on the terms it has agreed on.*

Usually this kind of situation only happens for social/rights/human issues, and economic agreements are written in more stringent terms that require adherence in order to be a part of the treaty. It's pretty unlikely that any nation would be able to pick and choose terms from the TPP, due to the way that these packages of laws and programs are supposed to work together.


*This is how countries like Saudi Arabia can sign on to the Convention for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, while also saying that they're not going to follow the part about "grant[ing] women equal rights with men with respect to the nationality of their children", or anything that goes against Islamic Law.
posted by DGStieber at 11:01 AM on October 5, 2015 [4 favorites]


--> insert shitting elephant <--
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 11:05 AM on October 5, 2015 [9 favorites]


I suspect a Trudeau government would ultimately pass it (with Conservative support if necessary).

Liberal party just about an hour ago:

"The government has an obligation to be open and honest about the negotiation process, and immediately share all the details of any agreement. Canadians deserve to know what impacts this agreement will have on different industries across our country. The federal government must keep its word and defend Canadian interests during the TPP’s ratification process – which includes defending supply management, our auto sector, and Canadian manufacturers across the country."

“If the Liberal Party of Canada earns the honour of forming a government after October 19th, we will hold a full and open public debate in Parliament to ensure Canadians are consulted on this historic trade agreement.”
posted by bonehead at 11:16 AM on October 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


Thanks should go to WikiLeaks for doing very important groundwork in getting people to start talking about this openly.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 11:24 AM on October 5, 2015 [24 favorites]


"The Trans-Pacific Partnership stands to remove trade barriers, widely expand free trade for Canada, and increase opportunities for our middle class and those working hard to join it. Liberals will take a responsible approach to thoroughly examining the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The Harper Conservatives have failed to be transparent through the entirety of the negotiations – especially in regards to what Canada is conceding in order to be accepted into this partnership."

So, Liberals' issue is with the lack of transparency surrounding the deal, not with the deal itself. Debate, consultation, and then we get the deal anyway. Noted.
posted by Capt. Renault at 11:36 AM on October 5, 2015 [5 favorites]


"Now wait just a minute! We're twice as smart as the people of Shelbyville. You just tell us your idea and we'll vote for it! " -- Mayor Quimby
posted by ArgentCorvid at 11:41 AM on October 5, 2015 [5 favorites]


Debate, consultation, and then we get the deal anyway.

Would you prefer a fresh, hot batch of smoke blown up your ass? If he said "we will scrap it entirely," I flat out wouldn't believe him. There are so many parties invested in this, anything more than what Trudeau said would be wishful thinking. The avalanche has already started, it's too late for the pebbles to vote.
posted by Dark Messiah at 11:43 AM on October 5, 2015 [5 favorites]


Dark Messiah, favorited because of the Koshism!
posted by coust at 11:57 AM on October 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


Would you prefer a fresh, hot batch of smoke blown up your ass?

Remember how Liberals lambasted John Crosbie for not having read the Free Trade Agreement he was trying to sell to the country? I do.
posted by Capt. Renault at 12:01 PM on October 5, 2015 [6 favorites]


The fact that there are still Canadians who think the Liberals are politically left of center just goes to show how well both the Liberal and Conservative propaganda machines are working. They support this deal 100 percent.
posted by rocket88 at 12:13 PM on October 5, 2015 [4 favorites]


All I was to know is how long does this extend Mickey Mouse's copyright?
posted by cjorgensen at 12:15 PM on October 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


https://www.techdirt.com/search-g.php?q=tpp

Here's a bunch of stories over the years on TPP, about as informative as it can be about a top-secret treaty. Really, if it has to be such a big secret, that's all you need to know to oppose it. It's the opposite of democracy.
posted by BentFranklin at 12:30 PM on October 5, 2015 [6 favorites]


So looking at one of the details we know of:

"But the compromise required to reach the deal means that aspects of the North American Free Trade Agreement pertaining to the auto sector will change. That deal required roughly 60 per cent of parts and vehicles sold tariff-free to be manufactured in North America. In order to qualify as a tariff-free vehicle under the TPP, 45 per cent of the net cost of the vehicle will need to originate in TPP countries — not just North America. For auto parts, 45 per cent of core parts and priority parts identified by the Canadian industry, and 40 per cent of the net cost of other parts, will need to originate in TPP countries."

So... the 60% threshold for North American cars is gone, and replaced by a 45% threshold for anywhere within the trade zone, in order to qualify as tariff-free. So instead of making Toyotas in Woodstock, Ontario to help reach the 60%, they can make Toyotas in, say, Vietnam or Malaysia to reach the lower 45% threshold, and still qualify to sell them tariff-free here in North America.

But hey -- lost manufacturing jobs is one thing, but Canada gets to sell more canola, so there's that.
posted by Capt. Renault at 12:39 PM on October 5, 2015 [9 favorites]


Based on the publicly available draft of the TPP, Mickey Mouse's copyright is extended another 50 years for a total of 120 years after creation, for corporate owned works. [eff]
posted by fragmede at 12:43 PM on October 5, 2015 [9 favorites]


Huh, interesting.
I suggest everyone read the link that cendawanita provided: Summary of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement

To preface my comments, I am wary of most neo-liberal politics, especially those promoted by the United States. I feel that the unintended consequences of many of the policies have led to the current state of the world (i.e. lots of suckage). I do not ascribe to know of a political label that accurately encompasses my own beliefs, but for the most part, I am not happy with the cargo-cult mentality that many neo-liberal governments and policy wonks espouse.

With all that said, in reading the summary, there are a few key things that appear to be the opposite of what many of the critics are claiming. Primarily the ones about labor and telecommunications.

From the Summary:
19. Labour
All TPP Parties are International Labour Organization (ILO) members and recognize the importance of promoting internationally recognized labour rights. TPP Parties agree to adopt and maintain in their laws and practices the fundamental labour rights as recognized in the ILO 1998 Declaration, namely freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining; elimination of forced labour; abolition of child labour and a prohibition on the worst forms of child labour; and elimination of discrimination in employment. They also agree to have laws governing minimum wages, hours of work, and occupational safety and health. These commitments also apply to export processing zones. The 12 Parties agree not to waive or derogate from laws implementing fundamental labour rights in order to attract trade or investment, and not to fail to effectively enforce their labour laws in a sustained or recurring pattern that would affect trade or investment between the TPP Parties. In addition to commitments by Parties to eliminate forced labour in their own countries, the Labour chapter includes commitments to discourage importation of goods that are produced by forced labour or child labour, or that contain inputs produced by forced labour, regardless of whether the source country is a TPP Party. Each of the 12 TPP Parties commits to ensure access to fair, equitable and transparent administrative and judicial proceedings and to provide effective remedies for violations of its labour laws. They also agree to public participation in implementation of the Labour chapter, including establishing mechanisms to obtain public input.

The commitments in the chapter are subject to the dispute settlement procedures laid out in the Dispute Settlement chapter. To promote the rapid resolution of labour issues between TPP Parties, the Labour chapter also establishes a labour dialogue that Parties may choose to use to try to resolve any labour issue between them that arises under the chapter. This dialogue allows for expeditious consideration of matters and for Parties to mutually agree to a course of action to address issues. The Labour chapter establishes a mechanism for cooperation on labour issues, including opportunities for stakeholder input in identifying areas of cooperation and participation, as appropriate and jointly agreed, in cooperative activities.


Note the bolded text I highlighted. I am trying to understand whether this is "bad" or "good", but from my reading of this, it is stating a very key provision of effective labour. All of the countries will have to allow the right of collective bargaining. Am I reading that wrong or does that mean that now all of the TPP countries have to allow unions? It also says that all of the countries have to have anti-discrimination legislation, and cannot use child labor. It also seems to say that everyone needs to create an OSHA (if they don't already have one). That is pretty huge, at least as far as neo-liberal agendas go. Add to that, the TPP Parties agree to NOT trade with countries that do use child labor/forced labor, whether they are TPP Signator countries or not. That's kinda a big deal too.

I mean, it could be just flowery words and all that jazz, but if this reads the way I think it does, this is a huge boost for labor specific stuff. I mean, we'll have to see the actual chapter and verse in the agreement when it gets released, but still, on the face of the summary, that sounds really good.

Now, of course, there is some real shit in there as well:
11. Financial Services
Just go read it.

At least my reading of this is pretty much a blatant give away to Wall Street financial institutions.

A supplier of a TPP Party may provide a new financial service in another TPP market if domestic companies in that market are allowed to do so.

That just reads to me like a horrible idea. A finance company can sell financial services to anyone else if a similar company already exists in the target country, BUT does not have to have offices in the target country. That's just asking for bad things to happen, at least in my view. Of course, that gets complicated real quick, mostly due to the definition of "financial services". The Investment section is also just as horrible, and will likely be the section that gets the most scrutiny (I hope).

The other really weird one it number 12: Temporary Entry for Business Persons
So the current VISA entry process is too slow for business persons? It's too complex? That part seems really weird. Though it could just be that certain countries are still working from really old and entrenched methods or processing, and have too many hoops you have to jump through just for a temporary VISA, but still. A lot of the language in that section and several other sections (26. Transparency and Anti-Corruption) seems to be geared towards some of the better aspects of neo-liberalism, if only in wonk talk.
posted by daq at 12:46 PM on October 5, 2015 [4 favorites]




Larry Summers is reportedly against it, which gives me pause.
posted by Cassford at 1:00 PM on October 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


Larry Summers is reportedly against it, which gives me pause.

Eh, it could be that it doesn't give enough away.
posted by MikeKD at 1:03 PM on October 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm not advocating for any of our parties, nevermind the Liberals. I think their response was as close to the truth as we're going to get. If they cared what we thought, we'd have been asked a long time ago.

I'm not sure what I'm going to do on election day, aside from hold my nose and hope we elect whichever party will destroy this country less.
posted by Dark Messiah at 1:45 PM on October 5, 2015


Relax, it will all be fine. Hey, I mean if TV can already sing and joke sing about it, that means it's cool. Okay?
posted by sardonyx at 2:05 PM on October 5, 2015


I, for one, welcome our new Monsanto overlords

"TPP Parties agree to eliminate .. restrictive policies on agricultural goods."

Can't wait for that American cheese food and Bovine growth hormone (rGBH ) enhanced ice cream.

Banned in Australia, Canada, New Zealand , well everywhere but the good old USA.
posted by yyz at 2:24 PM on October 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


That just reads to me like a horrible idea. A finance company can sell financial services to anyone else if a similar company already exists in the target country, BUT does not have to have offices in the target country. That's just asking for bad things to happen, at least in my view.

I don't see why having an office in the country would actually solve any of the unstated problems you have with this clause.
posted by pwnguin at 3:10 PM on October 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


TPP signed: the ‘biggest global threat to the internet’ agreed, as campaigners warn that secret pact could bring huge new restrictions to the internet

"One particularly controversial part of the provisions make it a crime to reveal corporate wrongdoing "through a computer system". Experts have pointed out that the wording is very vague, and could lead to whistleblowers being penalised for sharing important information, and lead to journalists stopping reporting on them.

"Others require that online content providers — such as YouTube and Facebook — must take down content if they receive just one complaint, as they are in the US. That will be harmful for startups looking to build such businesses since they'll be required to have the resources to respond to every complaint, experts have pointed out.

[...] The changes could also lead to huge new rules about surveillance.

"“Under this TPP proposal, Internet Service Providers could be required to "police" user activity (i.e. police YOU), take down internet content, and cut people off from internet access for common user-generated content,” write Expose The TPP, a campaign group opposing the agreement."


This is still an early reaction, so any corroborating or denying sources welcome.
posted by Capt. Renault at 3:11 PM on October 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


f7u12
posted by klangklangston at 3:42 PM on October 5, 2015 [5 favorites]


Does anyone know offhand whether there was this much secrecy around NAFTA? I remember a lot of skepticism toward the deal, but not anything specifically about the text of the actual agreement being secret.
posted by tonycpsu at 4:02 PM on October 5, 2015 [1 favorite]




I don't see why having an office in the country would actually solve any of the unstated problems you have with this clause

Because the SEC did such a good job investigating Madoff ?

Because laws differ from country to country.
What is permissible in your country may be illegal behaviour in mine.

Because it's easier for the RCMP commercial crime section to kick down a door in Toronto than in NYC.

Because requirements for search warrants are different.
Because it's easier to investigate crimes committed here and do a perp walk here.

Because some countries actually believe a corporation is a person. With religious beliefs and political rights.
That is considered batshit insane elsewhere..

The legal structures are different. The backgrounds are different
Want to do business here?
Want to sell insurance here, want to manage pensions here, want to sell stock here?
Fine. Set up an office here, keep records here.
posted by yyz at 4:57 PM on October 5, 2015 [5 favorites]


daq: ...geared towards some of the better aspects of neo-liberalism

Would you mind giving a quick run-down on what those might be? This is all new to me.
posted by sneebler at 5:41 PM on October 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


I am trying to understand whether this is "bad" or "good", but from my reading of this, it is stating a very key provision of effective labour.

This is a touchy subject in labor, because it is objectively good that 12 countries sign an agreement that includes an end to child labor. At the same time, China ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1992, and the results are still not very encouraging. The bigger issue for labor is that you can make countries agree "to have laws governing minimum wages, hours of work, and occupational safety and health" but states are granted plenty of leeway as to what these laws set as a framework. This means companies can find new avenues for production, saving considerably on labor by having some or all of it shifted to countries with considerably less overhead than they're accustomed to back home.

I don't know. Labor does need to act globally, and global standards need to be set. But this needs to come from the unions, transparently, needing a bit more than the bare minimum of having collective bargaining terms to begin with.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 6:33 PM on October 5, 2015 [3 favorites]


The answer to my question on NAFTA secrecy comes from Senator Warren:
The text of the TPP, like all trade deals, is a closely guarded secret. That fact makes a genuine public debate impossible and should make robust debate behind closed doors all the more essential. But the ability of TPP critics like me to point out the deal’s many failings is limited by the government’s surprising and unprecedented refusal to make revisions to the language in the TPP fully available to cleared advisors.

Bill Clinton didn’t operate like this. During the debate on NAFTA, as a cleared advisor for the Democratic leadership, I had a copy of the entire text in a safe next to my desk and regularly was briefed on the specifics of the negotiations, including counterproposals made by Mexico and Canada. During the TPP negotiations, the United States Trade Representative (USTR) has never shared proposals being advanced by other TPP partners. Today’s consultations are, in many ways, much more restrictive than those under past administrations.

All advisors, and any liaisons, are required to have security clearances, which entail extensive paperwork and background investigations, before they are able to review text and participate in briefings. But, despite clearances, and a statutory duty to provide advice, advisors do not have access to all the materials that a reasonable person would need to do the job. The negotiators provide us with “proposals” but those are merely initial proposals to trading partners. We are not allowed to see counter-proposals from our trading partners. Often, advisors are provided with updates indicating that the final text will balance all appropriate stakeholder interests but we frequently receive few additional details beyond that flimsy assurance.
posted by tonycpsu at 6:37 PM on October 5, 2015 [16 favorites]


Does anyone know offhand whether there was this much secrecy around NAFTA?

Nope. I was a kid, and even I knew about NAFTA's (terrible) provisions. It was widely publicized.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:44 PM on October 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I remember the skepticism about whether it would help the US economy, but I didn't remember how much was actually known about the provisions. I guess (per Warren's words above) the text of the deal was kept secret, but were at least known to the people negotiating it.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:26 PM on October 5, 2015


I'm genuinely curious: is there any country whose populace supports this thing?

Or is it only multinationals and large corporations that support this?

If indeed, as I suspect (although I could be wrong) the actual people in the countries impacted by this all oppose this deal, then it seems evident to me that corporations solidly run this world and the people are just bystanders.

It's not too late, but it is a test for democracies (and the will of the people in non-democracies that are signatories); I hope we pass this test.

It's important.
posted by el io at 10:03 PM on October 5, 2015 [4 favorites]


Free trade story. Quebec banned a bunch of herbicide and pesticide ingredients. Dow Chemical turned around and sued us for infringing on their ability to sell their products here. Claimed we were violating their right to sell their products under NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement). The will of the people didn't matter, their environmental concerns or associated health didn't matter. The agreement said companies could sue countries so that is what happened. Dow sort of won but was awarded 0$.

Capitalism is an economic model not a social model, but many corporations think capitalist society is a thing and is why (if left unchecked) they tend to be poor social citizens. When you are focused on making numbers ... you get things like VW emissions cheating or GM ignition switches ... known problems (polluting (but look at the sales numbers) and killing (but look at the cost of a recall compared to payouts numbers)) but at the end of the day inconvenient humans can be forgotten if the numbers are stacking up.

And as far as workers organizing; when Walmart began expanding in Quebec (beyond the chain of Woolco stores (except for the unionized ones) they bought to get their foothold), they built a brand new box just off the end of the island of Montreal. The workers decided and voted to unionize. Walmart immediately closed the store. The government stepped in and charged Walmart with violating the labour laws and employees right to unionize. They spouted a bunch of nonsense and lost in court and were fined, but it took years to settle and it was too late for the workers. After that initial scare Walmart passed down a directive (at least in Quebec) that was to try to avoid hiring anyone who seemed susceptible to unionization and if anyone seemed to be trying to organize to begin writing them up to be ready to get rid of them (one of my friends did this job for them and told me of the 'unofficial' policy (I told him he should work for someone else, he eventually did)).

But I already disliked Walmart because I went there with one of my friends a few months after they had opened shop here (around 1995 or so). I hadn't planned on buying anything but then saw some sandals that were 5$ and I was all *WOW*, I have 5$ and have never owned sandals and have often thought they would be cool. So I bought them. The next day I put on my new sandals and climbed into my awesome fake wood paneled Jeep Grand Wagoneer (it was amazingly scratch resistant, but I eventually removed it to grind the rust and repaint around the rear wheel wells and rear doors) and went to see one of my friends. Now the truck was great fun, but it was old and had some problems, like the bottom bolt on the header closest to the firewall on the driver side was stripped ... so it sounded like a tank and would spit some flames out around the rear of the header, not a huge problem, but the firewall and floor pan would heat up. Enough that on a longer trip I had managed to catch the carpet on fire. I solved that problem by removing the carpeting. I arrived at my friends place and when I went to get out of my truck, my sandals were all gooey and sticky and a bit melted. So much so that the straps on one let go of the sole on the first step out. I gathered the remnants and tried to tape and staple and glue and stitch them back together, which I did, but anything I didn't reinforce failed within a few steps, they looked like they could stand some hiking, but they were total garbage and so I still feel ripped off or duped or played for a fool or something, so have never gone back.
posted by phoque at 10:09 PM on October 5, 2015 [6 favorites]


I'm genuinely curious: is there any country whose populace supports this thing?

It's the product of a long string of negotiated compromises. Any surplus of populace support for a particular country means more concessions could have been had from them without scuttling the deal. And the general way this process works is to great diffuse benefits for society while causing concentrated harm to specific sectors. I'm more or less expecting those specially aggrieved parties to attempt to scuttle the deal, using populist framings.
posted by pwnguin at 12:12 AM on October 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Ugh it's so hard to know what to think about these sorts of things. The pro and the con camps seem to deal exclusively in extreme hypotheticals, while the actual trade deals that have been signed (NAFTA, DRCAFTA) are still being debated.

I read something on NAFTA last year (which I unfortunately can't find) where one of the negotiators was saying that the benefits and drawbacks that appeared in reality were nothing like its proponents expected at the time. I wish we had a political or economic elite that could honestly present us with the pros and cons of these sorts of agreements, and some risk probabilities.
posted by rottenindenmark at 12:56 AM on October 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Note the bolded text I highlighted. I am trying to understand whether this is "bad" or "good", but from my reading of this, it is stating a very key provision of effective labour. All of the countries will have to allow the right of collective bargaining. Am I reading that wrong or does that mean that now all of the TPP countries have to allow unions?

I haven't read the TPP (of course) but I feel entirely safe in predicting that these protections will be meaningless, for these reasons (and probably many others):
- the provisions will be vague and weak (like the requirement to "discourage" importing goods produced through slave labour) and riddled with exceptions;
- only state parties will be able to use the dispute settlement procedures. Unions, or the workers directly affected, will have no right to participate (very different to the ISDS provisions that will allow corporations to take action directly against governments);
- if for some reason one party's government brings an action against another party because the other party is failing to comply, the case will be decided by a panel of corporate lawyers and businesspeople. Good luck with that.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 2:58 AM on October 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


[Couple comments deleted. Really following up on the tale of the melting Walmart flipflops is probably better left for another time.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:26 AM on October 6, 2015


daq: Note the bolded text I highlighted. I am trying to understand whether this is "bad" or "good", but from my reading of this, it is stating a very key provision of effective labour.

The question is: Can labour organization sue governments, and have binding judgments with punishments attached, if governments violate labour provisions?

If they can't, it's probably meaningless. Corporations can sue governments for violation of their rights under the agreement.

On preview, what A Thousand Baited Hooks said.
posted by clawsoon at 9:05 AM on October 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


Does anyone know offhand whether there was this much secrecy around NAFTA? I remember a lot of skepticism toward the deal, but not anything specifically about the text of the actual agreement being secret.
posted by tonycpsu at 4:02 PM on October 5


Not NAFTA, but I used to have (and may still have) a copy of the Canada-US Free Trade Agreement that was produced by the Canadian government and made freely available to anybody who wrote in and requested it. Not only was the full text of the agreement published in a soft-bound (think graphic novel style) book, there was also accompanying literature explaining key portions (from the government's point of view). I don't recall if this same service was available for NAFTA. (There was a similar, but fancier looking, package produced when the Constitution was repatriated and the Charter introduced.)

These days it would be considerably cheaper to produce this type of documentation. They could slap up a PDF on the Web for practically nothing, but that would go against the philosophy of allowing citizens access to information that actually pertains to them.
posted by sardonyx at 9:14 AM on October 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


my links come from my fb feed, which is full of Malaysians grumbling about it, if they're talking about it at all:

TPP Trade Deal: Who Stands to Gain, Suffer in Asia-Pacific

Economist Dr Jomo KS: TPPA offers little advantage to Malaysia (YT; some commentary on Vietnam)

The TPP and medicine in Malaysia (radio brief; no transcript - English) - this particular bit has been of particular alarm to the public healthcare practitioners here.

A Joseph Stiglitz talk back in February in NY about stopping TPP
posted by cendawanita at 9:52 AM on October 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


> I'm genuinely curious: is there any country whose populace supports this thing?

Country? That's 20th century thinking, my friend!
posted by The Card Cheat at 1:21 PM on October 6, 2015 [4 favorites]


1. If trade actions arising of the TPP are going to be like NAFTA, this is an attack on sovereignty .

NAFTA's Chapter 11 Makes Canada Most-Sued Country Under Free Trade Tribunals

"In 1997, the Ethyl Corporation, a U.S. chemical company, used chapter 11 to challenge a Canadian ban on the import of MMT, a gasoline additive that is a suspected neurotoxin and which automakers have said interferes with cars’ diagnostic systems. The company won damages of $15 million and the government was forced to remove the policy."

2. This portion of the labour chapter is worrisome:

The commitments in the chapter are subject to the dispute settlement procedures laid out in the Dispute Settlement chapter. To promote the rapid resolution of labour issues between TPP Parties, the Labour chapter also establishes a labour dialogue that Parties may choose to use to try to resolve any labour issue between them that arises under the chapter.

So, the TPP labour dispute mechanism comes before domestic tribunals? Is that what that says? How do the workers and their reps participate in this dispute settlement procedure?
posted by girlpublisher at 2:25 PM on October 6, 2015 [4 favorites]


As discussed in prior threads the ruling in the matter of Ethyl vs. Canada has very little to do with NAFTA. Canada wrote a regulation that was poorly written and it was ultimately tossed by ordinary Canadian courts as a result. The barrier to a rewritten regulation appears to be the Harper government.

The United States has existing free trade agreements(FTA) with several of the TPP countries and there doesn't appear to be anything more restrictive in the various leaked drafts, official outlines and articles. In fact some of the new labor and environmental provisions may actually improve on the status quo.

Vietnam, Malaysia and the counties who do not have an FTA in place with the US will find that they come under a bunch of new restrictions. Japan is lone exception to this rule as they already have a developed economy. Some of these restrictions represet a significant improvement to labor and environmental standards in those countries.
posted by humanfont at 4:52 PM on October 6, 2015


The United States has existing free trade agreements(FTA)

These are not "free" trade agreements. They have nothing to do with freedom to trade. There are thousands of pages of agreements that specifically prescribe terms and rules for trade, not in any free manner at all. Most of the document is about intellectual property rights which are government enforced monopolies that are absolutely antithetical to freedom of trade.

If you must, just call them trade agreements. To call them free trade is Owellian in its deliberate deceit.
posted by JackFlash at 5:46 PM on October 6, 2015


The North American Free Trade Agreement and other FTA's are referred to as such and abbreviated thusly because they have the phrase "Free Trade Agreement" in their title. The agreements have eliminated most tarrifs and customs duties imposed on commerce between the countries, which has been the common meaning of "free trade" for quite a long time.
posted by humanfont at 6:42 PM on October 6, 2015




I wrote a song about it today. Here it is.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:16 AM on October 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


"They have nothing to do with freedom to trade. There are thousands of pages of agreements that specifically prescribe terms and rules for trade, not in any free manner at all."

Meh. I think it's more accurate to characterize them as free capital agreements or free investment agreements, but the terms for trade they generally prescribe are less regulated than the ad hoc rules they replace.
posted by klangklangston at 11:10 AM on October 7, 2015 [1 favorite]










EFF: The Final Leaked TPP Text is All That We Feared
Today's release by Wikileaks of what is believed to be the current and essentially final version of the intellectual property(IP) chapter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) confirms our worst fears about the agreement, and dashes the few hopes that we held out that its most onerous provisions wouldn't survive to the end of the negotiations.
posted by cjelli at 7:28 PM on October 9, 2015 [4 favorites]








To be fair, an agreement that makes it much easier for capital to transfer to another country also needs to make it easier for people to do the same.

The end result, of course, is that our wealthy standard of living will drop like a rock. OTOH, the miserable standard of living in poor countries will rise. (And of course the concentration of wealth into the hands of the 0.1% will rise even faster.)
posted by five fresh fish at 11:09 AM on October 16, 2015


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