The United States and eleven other countries have reached an agreement on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, leaving environmentalists, human rights activists, women’s rights activists, doctors, and many others concerned. This deal was struck after years of prolonged and often secretive negotiations, and still needs to secure approval from Congress.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement would regulate and govern trans-Pacific commerce for 12 countries- making up a startling 40 percent of the world’s economy. In June, President Obama Congress granted President Obama trade promotion authority–better known as “fast track”– which allows Obama to present the completed deal for an up-or-down vote in Congress, barring any amendments or filibusters. Fast track also prevents Congress from having significant input into US trading partners. That is a big concern, especially since among the countries included in the TPP is oil-rich Brunei, a country that adopted a vicious new penal code last year that threatens the rights and lives of women, lesbians, and gay men.
“The TPP, if passed, would implement trade rules that make it illegal for governments to create and enforce regulations on everything from environmental standards, to wage and labor laws, to the duration of copyrights,” said Amy Goodman of Democracy Now. “A law prohibiting the sale of goods made in sweatshops in Vietnam could be ruled illegal, for example, as a barrier to trade,” Goodman continued.
Over 2,000 organizations, including the Feminist Majority, AFL-CIO, National Organization for Women, NAACP, People for the American Way, Pride at Work, and the Sierra Club, opposed legislation to fast track the TPP. These organizations released a joint letter representing labor, environmental, farming, civil rights, digital rights, human rights, public health, faith, student, consumer, and other concerns.
Environmentalists have called the deal that has been struck with the TPP a “disaster for climate change.” Karthik Ganapathy of environmental group 350.org responded to the White House claim that the deal has potential for environmental conservation. “… [T]he truth is by handing even more power to Big Oil, letting massive corporations throw tantrum lawsuits at governments who dare to scale back emissions, and prolonging our reliance on fracked gas, there’s no question that the Transpacific Partnership is an absolute disaster for our climate,” Ganapathy said.
Media Resources: Democracy Now Blog 3/19/15; Citizens Trade Letter; Feministing 4/24/15; Feminist Newswire 6/10/15; Think Progress 10/5/15;