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The Problem With the TPP

by MARIO OBANDO

Over 600 official corporate advisors have negotiated a secret pact—the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). While President Obama has sought to ensure this “free-trade” agreement, little of the TPP has been revealed to the U.S. public.

The lack of transparency speaks to the current conditions of how the U.S. government is handling security—through secrecy.

This secrecy applies itself to how corporate elites and their supported governmental allies in the United States, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam have sought to pass this “free-trade” agreement. This pact, also known as NAFTA on Steroids as well as a “corporate Trojan Horse”, encourages and implements corporate interests in the reshaping of domestic policies.

For Obama, the TPP would allow the U.S. to double its exports but little has been said about its impact on domestic policies. The negotiations have not been made to the public but what we do know is that it seeks to diminish labor standards, solidify corporate interests in regards to intellectual property, deregulate environmental standards as well as cripple government abilities to regulate food safety and health insurance.

Supporters of the TPP have called for its implementation as it would increase “new drugs and improve access to medicines” except its desire to call for more patents on medicine would have the opposite effect.

Anti-TPP NGOS in Japan and Mexico ensure that this “pro-business” measure actually hurts the welfare and health of the poor and working classes of their respective countries.

Thus, instead of “new drugs” the TPP will see more privatization of healthcare and increase costs for patients in need of generic drugs.

The Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) among other free trade pacts throughout the world have actually taken low-cost generic drugs off the market in Guatemala and as Emilio Godoy, has reported, in Jordan, similar initiatives have increased medicine prices by 20 percent, which according to Oxfam, leads to the eroding of public health services for the people who actually need access to them.

President Obama has sought a “fast track” to the TPP initiative—allowing for a potential authorizing of undemocratic economic pacts.

Given the state surveillance, the continuity of heavily militarized local police forces, the structured maintenance of the prison industrial complex, the continued deportation of migrants, and the criminalization of racial minorities as a result of these institutionalized mechanisms of oppression, it seems that the passage of such a TPP would lead to more state repression to uphold the interests of corporations while also the crippling of state social services to do anything about income inequality.

The U.S., along with its interdependent state and business partners, continues to pursue initiatives not concerned in any way with poor and working class people but wholeheartedly invested in the investments and interests of multinational corporations.

The lack of transparency, coupled with the “fast track” option, and the underlying concern to privatize economics and open up markets, will lead to the more sovereignty for corporations, deregulation of governments, and the exploitation and impoverishment of poor and working class people as well as migrant labor in the countries prepared to implement another NAFTA.

 Mario Obando is a doctoral student at the University of Minnesota in the American studies department. 

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