Fast Track/Big Bad Trade Deal
Threatens Local Control, Family Farms
The TPP Agreement Would Elevate Multinational Corporations
To The Same Legal Status As Sovereign Nations
by Jim Compton
Jim Compton is a farmer and a member of the Missouri Rural Crisis Center.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of NAFTA, which has been a complete failure (unless you’re a multinational corporation) and put family farms out of business, offshored U.S. jobs and triggered a race to the bottom in terms of wages resulting in pushing the U.S. middle class downward economically.
Now there is an attempt to rush through the largest trade deal in history. The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) is being widely described as “NAFTA on steroids”. This new trade regime involves 11 nations (mostly in Asia) and has been negotiated entirely in secret with only leaked portions providing an insight. Citizens and most lawmakers have been locked out of the negotiation process and kept in the dark about the details of this proposed agreement.
Let’s be clear -- these trade deals take power away from local and state elected representatives and make us subject to a virtual undemocratic corporate, global constitution that could undermine the U.S. constitution, state constitutions, U.S. and state laws, and local control laws. Laws such as Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) would be in jeopardy -- COOL is supported by the majority of farmers and consumers but opposed by corporate agribusiness.
The TPP agreement would elevate multinational corporations to the same legal status as sovereign nations. For example, corporations would be able sue a nation for enforcing their food safety standards as being “illegal trade barriers”. These lawsuits would be decided before an unelected foreign tribunal where the only deciding factor would be whether a nation’s standards on a product would restrict the plaintiff corporation’s ability to make a profit. Taxpayer money would then be paid in the form of a fine or settlement if the country is found to be impeding the corporation’s ability to make a profit. The fact that the U.S. can be sued and the issue cannot be heard by our courts or our Congress gives the American taxpayer zero influence, and it’s a deal breaker.
To make matters worse, the Obama administration is pushing hard for “fast-track” authority to develop and finalize the TPP. This gives the President power to make trade deals without consulting Congress, subverting normal processes where our elected representatives can bring forth amendments and changes.
Trade is something most Americans are inclined to support as long as it’s done in an equitable manner. That’s not what’s going on here. This type of trade agreement dramatically increases the profits of huge agribusiness corporations at the expense of U.S. farmers, our rural economies and farmers around the world.
Secret meetings, fast-track authority, pie-in-the-sky promises of prosperity and loophole filled language aren’t the way to arrive at an agreement that is fair to the American taxpayer and American citizen.
Published in In Motion Magazine June 16, 2014
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