TPP 101 in Less than 4 Minutes. Go.
You’ve likely heard about the “TPP” in the news lately. You know it has 3 letters. You may even know that they stand for Trans Pacific Partnership. You may know that it’s considered a bad thing by the left, the right, and everyone in between. You may know it has something to do with trade… aaaand you may have gotten overwhelmed. Or you may be frustrated that other fairly engaged people seem not to know what it’s all about and why it matters.
Here’s a great primer that takes less than four minutes, featuring Amy Goodman from Democracy Now interviewing Lori Wallach of Public Citizens’ Global Trade Watch.
By the time it’s done, you should have crossed the “I’m calling my representative in Congress” threshold. And you’ll be up to speed on the basics.
Goodman: The TPP is often referred to by critics as NAFTA on steroids, and would establish a free trade zone that would stretch from Viet Nam to Chile, encompass 800 million people, about a third of world trade, and nearly 40% of the global economy. While the text of the treaty has been largely negotiated behind closed doors, more than 600 corporate advisors reportedly have access to the measure including employees of Halliburton, and Monsanto. For more, we’re joined by Lori Wallach, Director of Public Citizens Global Trade Watch. Lori, welcome back to Democracy Now. Just explain what the TPP is.
Wallach: One of the most important things to understand is that it’s not mainly about trade. I guess the way to think about it is like a corporate Trojan horse. The agreement has 29 chapters, and only 5 of them have to do with trade. The other 24 chapters either handcuff our domestic governments – limiting food safety, environmental standards, financial regulation, energy and climate policy – or establish new powers for corporations.
For instance there are the same investor privileges that promote offshoring to lower wage countries. There is a ban on “buy local” procurements that corporations have a right to do sourcing – basically taking our tax dollars and instead of investing them in our local economy, sending them offshore. There are new rights to, for instance, have rights to enter other countries and take natural resources – a right for mining, a right for oil and gas without approval.
And then there’s a whole set of very worrisome issues related to internet freedom. Through the back door of the copyright chapter of TPP is a whole chunk of SOPA – the Stop Online Piracy Act that activism around the country successfully derailed a year ago.
SOPA was a vehicle, basically, to take away some of our rights on the internet. It would have criminalized what they call “inadvertent small-scale non-commercial copying.” And the example would be, for instance – I had you over for dinner, you liked the recipe I had, I happen to have taken it for $2 off of a paid website. And you said, “Lori, can you send me that recipe?” And of course, I said yeah, and I sent it to you. That is officially a copyright violation. I should say no, you have to go pay to get it yourself. In fact, it’s small-scale, I didn’t sell it, it’s not commercial, I didn’t send it to a lot of people. That activity, under SOPA, as well as any number of activities we do all the time – making a copy, like a buffer copy that our computer would make to look at a video; or breaking a digital lock, like if we bought software, but wanted to run it on Linux. All those things would be considered criminal activities, we’d face huge fines, and our carriers – Google etc. would have to take us off of service, to black us out.
So, a huge limit on internet freedom. That whole mess was defeated in Congress, in a wonderful citizen uprising. A chunk of that is now stuck in the copyright chapter of TPP. So they call TPP, “Son of SOPA.” And in a lot of countries in the TPP region, citizens have fought to have good laws actually provide them access, and don’t allow that kind of control.
So, to give you an idea of how varied the problems are, that’s a chunk of what is in there.