Washington, D.C. – The much maligned Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a darling of the neoliberal establishment on both the left and the right, is dead in the water after President Trump signed an executive order withdrawing the US from the controversial free-trade pact.
The TPP was the largest global trade agreement since NAFTA, and would have included the United States, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. Essentially the TPP was a policy move by the U.S. meant to create a trade bloc as a means of countering rising Chinese economic might — under the guise of an “Asian pivot” – but that was seen by many Americans as a give away to large multinational corporations.
Here is a short primer on the TPP and its partner legislation the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which reveal exactly how these deals were meant to operate:
Much of what the public knows about this secretive trade pact comes from leaks provided by the whistleblower organization WikiLeaks. If not for the information Wikileaks has provided, the public would be even more in the dark than they currently are, as to the details included within these trade deals.
Hillary Clinton was a supporter of the TPP, before later claiming to be against it, while her rival in the for the Democratic presidential nomination, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, railed against the trade pact on a regular basis as something that would hurt American workers.
Opposing the TPP was one of the central tenets of the Trump presidential campaign, as Trump attempted to tap into the angst of the blue collar working class that Senator Sanders had so effectively coalesced in his failed primary run. The new administration called the trade pact a “potential disaster” for the United States, and said they would instead prefer to engage in bilateral deals with the individual states involved in the trade deal.
Critics of the TPP argue that it gives unfair competitive advantages to large multinational corporations. They also say that it takes away sovereignty from countries and gives it to small decision-making bodies that are not beholden to the public – thus further helping the rich get richer on the backs of the poor.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation laid out a succinct case against the TPP that revealed the far-reaching scope and dangers inherent to the trade deal:
In a joint letter to Congress released today, more than 250 technology companies and user rights organizations say that the extreme level of secrecy surrounding trade negotiations have led to provisions in agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) that threaten digital innovation, free speech, and access to knowledge online, and the letter calls on Congress to come out against the Fast Track, also known as Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), bill for legitimizing this secretive process…
The letter specifically identifies the TPP’s threats based on leaked texts of the agreement—how it threatens fair use, could lead to more costly forms of online copyright enforcement, criminalize whistleblowing and investigative journalism, and create investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) courts that would further jeopardize user protections in domestic laws.
Negotiations for the European-focused parallel trade deal, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), also have come to a sudden end.
Additionally, it appears the Trump administration has it sights set on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which eliminated commercial barriers between the US, Canada and Mexico during the Clinton administration.
“We are going to start renegotiating on NAFTA, on immigration and on security at the border,” Trump said on Sunday, after the swearing-in ceremony for senior White House staff.
It appears that this decision is one that many Americans, who aren’t part of the establishment-elite, were rooting for since long before Trump came onto the scene. Activists across the world have fought tirelessly to expose and defeat what they see as a give-away to industry and business at the expense of the average person.