Trade treaty secrecy raises questions

Letter by Nathaniel Smith, Daily Local News, 1/24/14

“Trans-Pacific Partnership” sounds sort of benign; aren’t partnerships good?

If it’s benign, why is Congress being pressured to assign it to a “fast track” that would shut down discussion and any improvements by Congress itself?

Corporations and a dozen governments (US, Canada, Mexico, Peru, Chile, New Zealand, Australia, and five in Asia) have been working on this “partnership” plan for years, with lots of business input; but even Congress hasn’t seen much of the text, and the public even less.

A Freedom of Information request was rebuffed with the answer that contents of the treaty are national security information. If a trade treaty falls under national security, what doesn’t?

This is an issue on which Americans of all political persuasions can agree: the public should know what’s going on, and Congress should vet trade deals, listen to public opinion, and act in our interest.

Some possible downsides of this “partnership” are:

1) It would hand corporations (including energy, pharmaceutical, and tobacco multinationals) the power to evade national public health and environmental protections.

2) Some of the leaked provisions, like extending corporate music and movie copyrights to almost a century and permitting drug companies to prolong patents by switching the medium (e.g., from capsule to tablet) serve corporations but not people. (No, corporations are not people!)

3) How is allowing companies to patent surgical procedures, life forms and seeds beneficial to humanity? It would probably just raise prices and profits.

4) Would the deal really improve the US balance of payments with selected Asian countries or would it go the way of the 2011 free trade agreement with South Korea, in whose first year US exports to there dropped and imports from there increased, increasing our trade deficit by an estimated $5.8 billion and costing 40,000 US jobs?

5) Would TPP allow other countries to serve as conduits for additional Chinese goods to flow into our markets and cost us further employment?

Congress is not popular right now, and with good reason. Our representatives in DC should start spending less time raising money and more time doing their homework and serving the people’s interests.

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Filed under Nathaniel Smith, Trade

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