Political and economic elites from over a dozen countries around the Pacific Rim are conspiring to implement a devastating new “free” trade pact: the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The ANSWER Coalition joins with progressive forces across the region in condemning this pro-corporate process that aims to impose great hardships on working people while paving the way for intensified U.S. military aggression.
The TPP negotiations began in 2010 with the goal of setting up a NAFTA-like zone across the Pacific where capital has free reign to do almost anything to maximize profits. The countries involved are a mix of imperialist states, such as the United States, Japan and Australia, as well as underdeveloped countries like Peru and Malaysia. The TPP will further infringe on the sovereignty of the latter, while devastating workers and small businesspeople of all nationalities.
The TPP negotiations have been happening in secret because the government officials and corporations at the table know that there would be mass outrage if the full details were made public. Instead of inviting representatives of the people, the United States Trade Representative has designated roughly 700 corporate agents from Johnson and Johnson, Verizon, Cisco Systems, General Electric, the pharmaceutical industry and other companies as “cleared advisors” who have access to TPP information.
There can be no doubt that these corporations and their political servants are seeking to include measures that would increase their ability to profit at the expense of the people and the planet. Environmental and labor regulations, the ability to protect jobs and carry out development strategies, and other safeguards against the excesses of the elite will likely be reduced or eliminated.
It is no coincidence that the TPP is being negotiated during the most intense global economic crisis since the Great Depression. Desperate for a way to revive their system, the governments and corporations involved are trying to change the rules to allow themselves to return to an acceptable rate of profitability. The TPP would also strengthen the dominance of the big monopolies at the expense of all other enterprises.
The TPP is a major component of the U.S. government’s new strategy to dominate the region – the “pivot to Asia.” Motivated by a desire to bully China – which is not involved in the TPP negotiations – and protect the U.S. stranglehold on a region rich with natural resources and cheap labor, the Pentagon is redeploying troops and equipment throughout Asia. They are expanding existing military bases, creating new installations and updating their war doctrines as a part of this new, long-term focus.
As the U.S. government and others conspire to flood the region with capital through the TPP, the Pentagon is conspiring to flood the region with military assets to protect those investments. This greatly increases the risk of war in the region, and is an affront to the right to self-determination. Even without a war, the increased U.S. presence will lead to more suffering for the people living in the shadow of their occupation.
However, we can stop the TPP before it is implemented. There are serious divisions among the negotiating parties, who each want to secure the best terms for their own bankers and CEOs. For example, leaked documents show that the U.S. negotiators and some of their junior partners are shamelessly trying to protect the so-called intellectual property of patent-holding corporations that charge massively inflated prices. In this context, the pro-TPP forces are especially vulnerable to mass pressure.
An international attack on the rights of poor and working people requires an international response. The ANSWER Coalition is committed to building unity in struggle between progressive forces in all countries involved in the negotiations. Solidarity can defeat the TPP!