Real people pushed out of TPP talks

by Dave Anderson

Sen Elizabeth Warren and Congressman Jared Polis

Sen Elizabeth Warren and Congressman Jared Polis

Who are you going to believe — Senator Elizabeth Warren or Congressman Jared Polis?

At Public Citizen’s annual gala in May, Warren launched an attack on backroom trade deals such as the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) currently being negotiated: “From what I hear, Wall Street, pharmaceuticals, telecom, big polluters and outsourcers are all salivating at the chance to rig the deal in the upcoming trade talks. So the question is, Why are the trade talks secret? You’ll love this answer. Boy, the things you learn on Capitol Hill,” Warren said. “I actually have had supporters of the deal say to me ‘They have to be secret, because if the American people knew what was actually in them, they would be opposed.’ /

“Think about that. Real people, people whose jobs are at stake, small-business owners who don’t want to compete with overseas companies that dump their waste in rivers and hire workers for a dollar a day — those people, people without an army of lobbyists — they would be opposed. I believe if people across this country would be opposed to a particular trade agreement, then maybe that trade agreement should not happen.”

By contrast, Congressman Polis has straddled the fence on both fast track authority and the TPP. He is “troubled by the lack of transparency in the U.S. TPP negotiations” and says he won’t support a deal which undermines protections for the environment, consumers and workers.

Continue reading

WikiLeaks Reveals True Intent of Secret TiSA Trade Talks

ITUC OnLine

International Trade Union Confederation

International Trade Union Confederation

A WikiLeaks exposé has revealed the true intent behind secret 50-country negotiations on a new “financial services” chapter of the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) at the WTO in Geneva.  The draft agreement being discussed by government officials is aimed at weakening financial regulation and giving extra market access to hedge funds, banks, insurers and other providers.

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, said, “Governments are negotiating away financial regulation in secret, instead of tackling the unfinished regulation task that triggered the current global economic crisis in 2007.  It defies belief that they are actually planning to help the already ‘too big to fail’ banks and other financial conglomerates to expand.”

“It is deeply disturbing to find out that governments are getting ready to exempt from or expedite the approval of some of the most toxic insurance products, like Credit Default Swaps, and also allow hedge funds and banks to launch ‘unlimited new products’ without proper controls.”

Continue reading

Why Aren’t We Having a Public Debate on Investment Policies in the TTIP?

by Celeste Drake

tppIn early March, the AFL-CIO joined 42 other organizations representing labor, business, public health, environmental concerns, consumers, family farms and good governance as well as three legal scholars in sending a letter calling on the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) to match the European Commission’s commitment to holding a public consultation on investment issues, particularly with respect to the pending U.S.-European Union trade negotiations (known as the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP).

While the AFL-CIO has received no formal response, the USTR did post a blog explaining that it already has held extensive consultations regarding the TTIP, and with respect to investment issues in particular.

Unfortunately, the blog post failed to address the issues raised in the letter. It pointed in particular to the review process for the U.S. Model BIT. A “BIT” is a type of treaty that covers solely investment issues (rather than the full panoply of trade and economic governance issues) and the “Model BIT” serves as a guide to what the United States would like to see in every BIT and the investment chapters of pending trade agreements. The Model BIT consultation process—which consisted of a federal register notice that garnered 36 comments, a single public meeting and a report from an advisory committee—was held in 2009, several years before the TTIP negotiations were even announced. The Model BIT consultation process, like current trade negotiations, involved many stakeholders representing a wide array of views, but the final Model BIT reflected almost exclusively business input. A consultation process that concluded more than four years ago is hardly sufficient to address bilateral U.S.-European investment that already stands at $4.1 trillion, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Continue reading

Moral Authority in Globalization

by Stan Sorscher

Stan Sorscher

Stan Sorscher

I took part in a “fair trade” study session at a synagogue recently, looking at moral authority in the global economy. We considered four historical examples.

In Exodus, Moses leads the children of Israel out of Egypt, creating a new nation in the midst of established tribes and nations. After finding food and water, Moses gets excellent advice from his father in-law, Jethro: Appoint judges.

“… thou shalt provide, out of all the people, able men such as fear God, men of truth, hating unjust gain, and place such over them to be rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens. And let them judge the people at all seasons.”

This judicial system was a foundational institution of civil society, giving legitimacy and credibility to Moses’ leadership. The Old Testament served as a moral, social and civil document. It determined how life would be organized for many generations.

Continue reading

Rejecting TPP, AFL-CIO’s Trumka Calls for ‘Global New Deal’

by Bruce Vail

Trumka_Center_for_American_Progress_TPP_TTIP_Global_New_DealAt a March 25 Center for American Progress event, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka had sharp words about backroom trade deals such as the TPP.   (CAP)

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka today called for a “Global New Deal” to fundamentally rethink U.S. foreign trade policies, especially so-called “free trade agreements” such as the pending Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

These treaties in the works are examples of  “a failed model of global economic policies” based on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) of the mid-1990s, Trumka said. “We cannot enact new trade agreements modeled on NAFTA. … NAFTA put corporations in charge of America’s economic strategy with the goal of shipping jobs off shore to lower labor costs,” he told an audience at the Washington, D.C., offices of the Center for America Progress, an advocacy group closely associated with the Democratic Party. Echoing common progressive criticisms of the trade deals, Trumka called NAFTA, TPP and TTIP “thinly disguised tools to increase corporate profits by poisoning workers, polluting the environment and hiding information from consumers.” Continue reading

Pro-Worker NGO Criticizes Apple’s Failures of Corporate Social Responsbility in China

by SACOM

Hong Kong, 28 February 2014

On the day of Apple’s annual general meeting, Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour (SACOM) is urging Apple again to take immediate and constructive action to fulfil its corporate responsibility by improving the working conditions in its suppliers.

Despite respectable quarterly revenues of US$57.6 billion and a net quarterly profit of US$13.1 billion in the first quarter of its fiscal year of 2014, the company is unwilling to share its success with frontline workers – those who turn its ideas into real products. Apple’s newly published Corporate Supplier Responsibility (CSR) Progress Report projects an ideal workplace at Apple suppliers, yet we doubt workers are enjoying any benefit at all: Continue reading

SOTU: President’s Base Opposes Fast Track for TPP

 
Over 550 Labor, Environmental, Family Farm & Community Groups Send Letter to Congress Opposing Fast Track Legislation
 
tppWASHINGTON, DC — Over 550 labor, environmental, family farm and other organizations traditionally associated with President Barack Obama’s political base sent a letter to Congress today opposing Fast Track legislation for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and other pending trade agreements.  The letter comes just a day before the President’s annual State of the Union address.  Corporate interests that fought the president’s re-election are lobbying for him to use the speech to call on Congress to enact Fast Track authority for the TPP.  The President’s political base and many congressional Democrats stand in united opposition, emphasizing that the TPP threatens to exacerbate American income inequality.  Democratic Socialists of America is one of the groups that signed the letter.
 
“Income inequality and long-term unemployment are serious problems that the job-killing TPP would only worsen,” said Arthur Stamoulis, executive director of Citizens Trade Campaign, which organized the letter.  “Calling for Fast Track in the State of the Union would undercut positive proposals to battle growing income inequality and create middle class jobs which are expected to be the central focus of the President’s speech.  As short-sighted as such a call would be, even more short-sighted would be for Congress members on either side of the aisle to answer it, as they’re the ones who would be dealing with the political repercussions this November.”

Free trade and the loss of U.S. jobs

by Harold Meyerson

Harold Meyerson

Harold Meyerson

When President Obama delivers his State of the Union address this month, he will surely highlight the issue of growing economic inequality and argue for such remedies as raising the minimum wage. He may also put in a plug for the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement his administration is negotiating with 11 Pacific Rim nations and for fast-track legislation that would limit congressional input in the accord to facilitate its ratification.

If he does both — bemoan rising inequality and promote yet another free-trade agreement — his speech will rate a chapter in the annals of self-negation. Continue reading

Shafted by NAFTA

by Gregory N. Heires

tppThe scorecard is in 20 years after the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement: Corporations won and workers lost.

“NAFTA has done what it was intended to do, which is to lower wages,” Mark Weisbrot, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C., said in an interview.

The free trade pact led to hundreds of thousands of lost jobs, displaced millions of farmers in Mexico, turned the U.S. trade surplus with Mexico into a deficit and gave multinational corporations new powers over governments, he said.

NAFTA at 20,” a report by Public Citizen, offers a blistering assessment of the trade pact between the United States, Canada and Mexico. NAFTA’s record is a warning as the United States considers similar trade agreements with Asian and Latin American countries. Continue reading

CWA Members Join Fight Against Fast Track Trade Promotion

CWA Local 1103 Members Lobby Against Fast Track during work break

CWA Local 1103 Members Lobby Against Fast Track during work break

Members of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) are joining other citizens’ group in opposing
fast track authorizing legislation for the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, introduced on 9th January by Senator Max Baucus (Dem) and Representative Dave Camp (Rep).

CWA members are responding to this statement by CWA President Larry Cohen:

“Fast track is the wrong track when it comes to a trade deal like the Trans-Pacific Partnership that will affect our laws, our jobs, our food and our environment. Fast track, also known as Trade Promotion Authority, forces Congress to give up its Constitutional right to amend and improve this trade deal, which now is reportedly more than 1,000 pages long. Continue reading

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,217 other followers