Originally published June 8 2015
'Free trade' partnerships are just corporate monopoly agreements for GMOs, pesticides and pharmaceuticals
by J. D. Heyes
(NaturalNews) Despite the Obama Administration's best efforts to keep its negotiations regarding the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact secret, enough details have emerged through various sources to paint a very unflattering picture about the deal.
For instance, "trade" is a very small part of the TPP. According to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, just five of 29 sections of the agreement actually deal with trade.
"First of all, it is the largest ever international economic treaty that has ever been negotiated, very considerably larger than NAFTA. It is mostly not about trade, only 5 of the 29 Chapters are about traditional trade," he said during an interview from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he has been given asylum as he eludes capture.
"The others are about regulating the internet, and what information internet service providers have to collect, they have to hand it over to companies under certain circumstances, the regulation of labor conditions, regulating the way you can favor local industry, regulating the hospital, health care system, privatization of hospitals, so essentially every aspect of a modern economy, even banking services are in the TPP."
"Fast-track" to destruction
WikiLeaks has already published one chapter of the agreement and has offered a bounty of $100,000 for a full version of the current agreement.
Assange is joined in his characterization of TPP, and his criticism, by former Reagan Administration economist Paul Craig Roberts, who, in a recent post on his personal blog, said "the Transatlantic and Transpacific Trade and Investment Partnerships have nothing to do with free trade."
In reality, he charges, "free trade" is merely a disguise to hide the power that these agreements seek to give corporations who will employ lawsuits to overturn sovereign laws of nations that dare to regulate such public interests as pollution, GMO foods and minimum wages.
"The first thing to understand is that these so-called 'partnerships' are not laws written by Congress," Roberts wrote. "The US Constitution gives Congress the authority to legislate, but these laws are being written without the participation of Congress. The laws are being written by corporations solely in the interest of their power and profit. The office of US Trade Representative was created in order to permit corporations to write law that serves only their interests. This fraud on the Constitution and the people is covered up by calling trade laws 'treaties.'"
A number of mostly Republican lawmakers are supportive of providing President Obama the fast-track trade authority he seeks to close the TPP and other related trade deals. Fast-track authority means the president can close a deal and then submit the entire package to Congress for an up-or-down vote without changes. Some say they have been able to enter the secret room below the Capitol Building to read the agreement, but two members of House Speaker John Boehner's leadership team, who are attempting to shepherd fast-track through their chamber, recently refused to say one way or another if they've read the TPP.
Supporters of fast track also say that Congress (and the public) will be given 60 days to review the final version of TPP before a vote, but opponents of the measure – including many in Obama's own Democrat Party – aren't buying it.
Rule by Monsanto, others
Neither is Roberts.
"Indeed," he wrote, "Congress is not even permitted to know what is in the laws and is limited to the ability to accept or refuse what is handed to Congress for a vote. Normally, Congress accepts, because 'so much work has been done' and 'free trade will benefit us all.'"
Where have we heard that before? NAFTA, during Bill Clinton's first few years in office, comes to mind – and that agreement has resulted in massive losses of American manufacturing jobs.
Roberts says the "partnerships" forged within TPP essentially provide immunity to the laws of sovereign countries for corporations on grounds that some laws will adversely impact commerce (and profits), thus constituting a "restraint" on trade.
For instance, he notes, under the TPP, France's laws against GMO crops would be overturned in lawsuits filed by Monsanto.
You can read his entire column here.
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