October 24, 2021

5 Things Just Revealed in the Secretive OBAMATRADE Agreement That Should Have Americans Concerned

On Thursday, details of the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement between the United States and 11 Pacific Rim countries were released online, finally giving Americans the chance to evaluate the deal which critics say was written in secrecy.

And some of the deal’s features may make you wish we were still at the drawing board:

1. Crony Capitalism

Critics of the deal say the pact goes beyond traditional trade issues like tariffs and import-export quotes and includes benefits to special interests.

According to the Associated Press:

“The input from big businesses, such as pharmaceutical companies, recording studios, agribusinesses and other multinationals is evident in the myriad details laid out in the document.”

The biomedical lobby in particular has been very active in the trade deal’s plans.

2. Free Trade — But Not For Pharmaceutical Companies

The deal includes eight years of protection for drug companies from cheaper competitors for some of the most expensive medicines.

The patent protection came in response to pressure from the U.S., but the U.S. government was pressured by the drug industry, which sought 12 years of protection.

3. Private (In)Justice

The deal allows multinational companies (for example, a Vietnamese company that owns restaurants in California) to challenge laws and regulations in private tribunals if the case addresses laws that are allegedly barriers to trade.

Although the deal does include safeguards against abusive claims by multinational companies, this means challenges to Congress’ enacted laws and other regulatory actions can be decided outside of our democratic system and even outside of our federal government.

4. Courts — But Not For the Tobacco Industry

Although multinational companies can make claims in these tribunals, multinational tobacco companies are specifically barred from doing so.

US President Barack Obama leaves after speaking at a Democratic National Committee event at the Warfield Theater October 10, 2015 in San Francisco, California. Obama is traveling to California to fundraise for Democrats. AFP PHOTO/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

Image Credit: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/Getty Images

Countries can specifically ban tobacco companies from using the tribunal system to challenge health regulations and anti-smoking bans and laws in member countries.

So, for example, an environmental company may have a claim against another country and the means to address it, but not tobacco companies.

5. It Doesn’t Require Unanimity and All Hangs on America

If the United States Congress decides not to participate, the entire deal falls through.

According to the text, if all 12 countries have not signed on within two years, the deal will take effect regardless, as long as 6 countries comprising 85% of the GDP of the bloc have ratified it.

That means ratification by the United States, which is the world’s biggest economy, is required. And if six countries refuse to ratify it, their citizens are forced into an agreement they rejected.

If something goes wrong, those countries blaming the United States seems like a safe bet.

What’s next:

Because of a “fast track” law passed in May, once the leaders of the 12 TPP participating countries agree on the deal, President Obama must make details of the deal available for public review before he signs the agreement and passes it to Congress for approval.

Congress can only vote “yes” or “no” on the agreement, without amendments.

The other 11 countries participating in the trade pact are Japan, New Zealand, Australia, Chile, Peru, Mexico, Canada, Brunei, Singapore, Vietnam and Malaysia.

Given the political capital expended to get the fast-track deal, the United States may be forced to work with this agreement whether we like it or not.

Source: Independent Journal