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FATTENING WALL STREET — Mike Whitney reports on the rapid metamorphosis of new Fed Chair Janet Yallin into a lackey for the bankers, bond traders and brokers. The New Religious Wars Over the Environment: Joyce Nelson charts the looming confrontation between the Catholic Church and fundamentalists over climate change, extinction and GMOs; A People’s History of Mexican Constitutions: Andrew Smolski on the 200 year-long struggle of Mexico’s peasants, indigenous people and workers to secure legal rights and liberties; Spying on Black Writers: Ron Jacobs uncovers the FBI’s 50 year-long obsession with black poets, novelists and essayists; O Elephant! JoAnn Wypijewski on the grim history of circus elephants; PLUS: Jeffrey St. Clair on birds and climate change; Chris Floyd on the US as nuclear bully; Seth Sandronsky on Van Jones’s blind spot; Lee Ballinger on musicians and the State Department; and Kim Nicolini on the films of JC Chandor.
The False Promises of the TPA

A Trade Pact No One Should Want

by SERGE HALIMI

You can safely bet that the Transatlantic Partnership Agreement (TPA) will not feature as much in the forthcoming European elections as the extradition of illegal immigrants or the (alleged) teaching of “gender theory” in French schools. The TPA will affect 800 million affluent people and almost half the world’s wealth (1). The European Commission is negotiating this free trade agreement with Washington on behalf of the EU’s 28 member states, and the European parliament elected this May will be expected to ratify it. Nothing is settled as yet, but on 11 February the French president François Hollande, during his state visit to Washington, proposed to speed things up, saying: “We have everything to gain by moving quickly. Otherwise, as we know all too well, there will be a build-up of fears, threats and tensions.”

Everything to gain by moving quickly? The reverse is true. On this issue, it’s important to put a brake on neoliberalisation, and the industrial lobbies (US and European) behind it. Especially as European MPs do not know the terms of the EU Commissioners’ negotiating mandate, while the EU’s business strategy (if it has one, apart from laissez-faire) is no secret for the US National Security Agency (NSA) (2). Such dissimulation, even mild, rarely bodes well: there is a danger that the rapid advance of free trade and Atlanticism may force Europeans to import meat containing hormones, genetically modified corn and chickens dipped in chlorine. And it may prevent Americans from favouring their own producers (the “Buy American Act”) when they use public funds to combat unemployment.

The reason given to justify the agreement is employment. But supporters of the TPA, encouraged by “studies” often funded by lobbies, have more to say about the jobs created by exports than those lost through imports (or through the over-valued euro). The economist Jean-Luc Gréau notes that every neoliberal breakthrough in the past 25 years — the common market, the single currency, the transatlantic market — was defended on the grounds that it would reduce unemployment. A 1988 report (Défi 1992) announced “we were supposed to have 5m or 6m more jobs, thanks to the common market. But once it was established, Europe, plagued by recession, lost between 3m and 4m jobs” (3).

The Multinational Agreement on Investment (MAI), devised by and for the multinationals, was shredded in 1998 when public opinion was mobilised against it (4). The TPA, which repeats some of its most damaging ideas, needs to go the same way.

Serge Halimi is president of Le Monde diplomatique.

Notes.

(1) See Lori Wallach, “The corporation invasion”, Le Monde diplomatique, English edition, December 2013.

(2) Patrick Le Hyaric, member of the European United Left (EUL) group in the European parliament, published the full text of the negotiating mandate in his book Dracula contre les peoples (Dracula against the peoples), Editions de L’Humanité, Saint-Denis, 2013.

(3) Jean-Luc Gréau in the proceedings of Fondation Res Publica symposium “Le projet de marché transatlantique” (The transatlantic market project), Paris, September 2013.

(4) See Christian de Brie, “Comment l’AMI fut mis en pieces” (How the MAI was shredded), Le Monde diplomatique, December 1998.