'A corporatocracy Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen's superb research and activist group, Global Trade Watch, correctly calls the Trans-Pacific Partnership "a corporate coup d'etat." Indeed, nations that join must conform their laws and rules to TPP's strictures, effectively supplanting US sovereignty and cancelling our people's right to be self-governing. Worse, it creates virtually permanent corporate rule over us--there's no expiration date on the agreement, and no provision in it can be altered unless all countries agree. Thus, even if Americans voted in an election to make changes, any other TPP country could overrule us by not agreeing'.
I spent the last few days in Washington attending World Trade symposiums and heard the good, the bad, and the ugly. The good is that world-wide citizen protest has successfully disrupted the goals of the WTO and global corporate free-trade agreements are becoming harder and harder to achieve even as global corporations installed their own politicians in national and state leadership positions in nations around the world.
The good is ending global free trade as the driver of a nation's economy. As these trade policy people noted the US has gone from 3% to 30% global trade taking with it the US first world standard of life and its thriving economy. We do not want to end all global trade for goodness sake----we simply want domestic businesses driving the economy. The bad is the World Trade Organization that acted as the sales person to these global corporations. The consensus at these World Trade meetings is that the WTO is unraveling. With European elections sending global corporate pols packing and protectionism growing ----with the recognition of massive and systemic fraud and corruption in these global trade systems and their financial arms-----the WTO is accepting that its days are numbered. While WTO might be the bad-----they aren't the ugly. Global banking and national center banks have taken over trade policy and they are the ugly. At least the WTO used academic policy reasoned under a Rule of Law scenario in its academic policy approaches. It was the greed and criminality of the global banks and corporations that brought the image of free trade as a good thing crashing. As the WTO people were bowing out-----the global corporations and their cabal were still in there with the fight for Trans Pacific Trade Pact TPP and the Trans Atlantic Trade Pact--TTIP. The mood for these ugly global banker trade people was not too good as well as TPP and TTIP is looking weaker every day thanks to world-wide protest.
'Banksters. Wall Street and the financial giants in other TPP countries would make out like bandits: The deal explicitly prohibits transaction taxes (such as the proposed Robin Hood Tax here) that would shut down super-rich speculators who have repeatedly triggered financial crises and economic crashes around the world; it restricts "firewall" reforms that separate consumer banking from risky investment banking (thus prohibiting Congress from reinstating the much needed Glass-Steagall firewall in our country); it could roll back reforms that governments adopted to fix the extreme bank-deregulation regimen that caused Wall Street's 2007 crash; and it provides a backdoor escape from national rules that would limit the size of "too-big-to-fail" behemoths. These extreme provisions would be enforceable by the banks themselves--TPP empowers them to force governments either to repeal reform laws or to compensate banks with taxpayer money for "losses" they say are caused by reforms'.
MEANWHILE IN THE US MOST CITIZENS DO NOT EVEN KNOW WHAT TPP AND TTIP IS AND HOW IT WILL EFFECT THEM BECAUSE US MEDIA IS SILENT AND THE LABOR AND JUSTICE ORGANIZATIONS LEADING THESE PROTESTS WORLD-WIDE ARE LARGELY CAPTURED AT THE TOP IN THE US.
It's a good sign believe it or not when the ugly gain control from the bad----it shows the decline and disappearance of these global corporate cabals. We will need to send our global corporate pols packing because even if they cannot get all these nations on board---they will continue until they do!
'Now we are hearing that the TPP, as we were promised with other pacts, will mean prosperity around the corner.
But this agreement would force Americans to compete against workers from nations such as Vietnam, where the minimum wage is $2.75 a day. It threatens to roll back financial regulation, environmental standards and U.S. laws that protect the safety of drugs we take, food we eat and toys we give our children. It would create binding policies on countless subjects, so that Congress and state legislatures would be thwarted from mitigating the pact's damage'.
We had a question from the audience that pointed to why developing world nations are backing away from these trade deals---WHAT ABOUT THE CONSUMERS???? asked the student in the audience. India, Russia, Japan, and much of Europe have an agriculture economy based on small farmers and the US wants big agriculture industries to take these nation's farming as it has in the US and these nation's leaders are being hit hard by citizens who do not want global corporations controlling their food and water supply. WHAT ABOUT THE CONSUMERS this young student from India asked......at which point the US Trade representative on the panel from Johns Hopkins sulked and dismissed the consumer----free trade lowers food prices she said.
'Food safety. Any of our government's food safety regulations (on pesticide levels, bacterial contamination, fecal exposure, toxic additives, GMOs, non-edible fillers, etc.) that are stricter than "international standards," as most are, could be ruled as "illegal trade barriers." Then our government would have to revise our consumer protections to comply with the weaker global standards. Also, our government could no longer ban meat imports that don't meet our safe-to-eat laws, as long as the exporting nation simply claims that its inspection system is "equivalent" to ours. In addition, food labeling laws we rely on (organic, country-of-origin, animal-welfare approved, GMO-free, etc.) would also be subject to challenge as trade barriers'.
The free trade representative from Sweden wisely proclaimed they must be more open in negotiations as this was why the world's citizens were taking to the street. The Swedish representative remarked that Russia needed more Rule of Law and the crowd laughed lowly because of course the EU and US have no Rule of LAW either so she had to qualify Rule of Law for business operations.
The point is that global free trade agreements are being rebuffed around the world....some leaders are trying to force it on their citizens as in the US-----but they are being quickly voted out of office. The only people negotiating now are the ones working for the global banks -----the ugly-----and they look ridiculous pretending that Rule of Law does not matter if not for corporate business.
NO ONE TRUSTS THE OTHER!
MAKE NO MISTAKE-----NEO-LIBERALS AND NEO-CONS DO NOT EVEN RECOGNIZE RULE OF LAW FOR CITIZENS. THEY SEE ALL LEGAL STRUCTURE PROTECTING BUSINESS LAW ONLY.
I think this quote shows how the bad and ugly relate:
“The way to think of TPP is that it’s WTO on crack,” said Lori Wallach, an activist with Public Citizen. Wallach was in Seattle Monday night to speak at a gathering of global do-gooders, fair-traders and WTO protest veterans gathered at, of all places, the Queen Anne office of an investment management firm.
“This agreement would actually set up a parallel court system, of corporate tribunals run by corporations but paid for by taxpayers,” Wallach explained. “We would call it a kangaroo court if it wasn’t such an insult to marsupials.”
'Public services. TPP rules would limit how governments regulate such public services as utilities, transportation, and education, including restricting policies meant to ensure broad or universal access to those essential needs. One especially insidious rule says that member countries must open their service sectors to private competitors, which would allow the corporate provider to cherry pick the profitable customers and sink the public service. Also, corporations from any TPP nation must be allowed to bid on contracts to provide public services in the US on the same terms as American corporations'.
The article below does a good job explaining the dynamics. The BRIC nations of Brazil, Russia, India, and China have moved away from these trade deals because unlike the WTO deals, policies giving developing world nations an equitable status in trading would be removed allowing the developed world economies dominance. It is intended as colonialism and seriously seeks to dismantle developing world food and medical subsidy---critical for developing worlds but with the US wanting profits for PHARMA and MONSANTO---goodbye social subsidies for developing worlds. This is why you see in the US the dismantling of Medicare and Medicaid as Federal programs, Food Stamps are being dismantled as in Maryland....all subsidies dealing with food and medical will go with these treaties. So, this is bad for all citizens of the world----not only those in developing worlds.
TPP and TTIP wants all regulations and subsidies dropped. This is why the US Justice system is failing to seek justice for labor and civil rights/liberties issues and protections of pensions and people's retirements because they see all those laws disappearing. It is why the Financial Reform Bill was simply a game because TPP was being written back then and bars all regulations of Wall Street. You think Wall Street is wild west now-----wait until TPP is passed if it is. WTO allowed for exceptions needed by developing world governments. It's this drive for complete deregulation with TPP and TTIP that drove the massive corporate frauds and attacks on public wealth last decade----ALL RULES SLOWING CORPORATE PROFIT GOES!
It is this really 'ugly' total deregulation that is keeping TPP from gaining traction and nations fighting it have done a service for Americans who do not know what is coming if not stopped.
WTO failure points to fragmented future for global trade
By Tom Miles
GENEVA Mon Aug 4, 2014 12:16pm EDT Reuters
World Trade Organization (WTO) Director-General Roberto Azevedo gestures during a news conference on world trade in 2013 and prospect for 2014 in Geneva April 14, 2014.
Credit: Reuters/Denis Balibouse
(Reuters) - India has dealt a potentially fatal blow to the World Trade Organization's hopes of modernizing the rules of global commerce and remaining the central forum for multilateral trade deals.
In the short term, this is a setback for freer commerce. In the longer run, it means trade liberalization may advance -- if at all -- among narrower groups of countries, denying dissenters a chance to block progress.
While the unwieldy 160-member, Geneva-based WTO will survive as a body for enforcing existing multilateral agreements, smaller clubs of like-minded nations are trying to move ahead faster to update the trade rules among themselves.
"Without a serious shakeup, the WTO's future looks like that of the League of Nations," said Simon Evenett, a professor at the Swiss Institute for International Economics. "Perhaps ultimately that's what some governments want."
Last week India vetoed the adoption of a treaty to simplify, standardize and streamline the rules for shipping goods across borders, having previously agreed to its terms at a ministerial conference in Bali last December. It blocked the text because it wanted more attention paid to its concerns over food security.
After drawing widespread condemnation, the world's second most populous nation now says it wants to keep the treaty alive, with stronger assurances about protecting its food security needs, until a permanent solution is found.
But the genie is out of the bottle. India's tactics reawakened a ghost from the WTO's past that many diplomats hoped to have put behind them: the idea of "linkages".
Linking unconnected negotiations was a major reason why the Doha round of trade talks that began in 2001 collapsed. As more and more states parlayed a concession here into a pledge there, the weight of interwoven bargains eventually caused paralysis.
The draft treaty on customs rules, known as "trade facilitation", was supposed to be something that everyone could agree on -- "low hanging fruit" that might reinvigorate a WTO laid low by a grinding decade of failed negotiations.
But there were few illusions about the WTO's overall health.
"The Doha Round has been dead at least since the last big push in 2011 failed," said Richard Baldwin, professor of international economics at the Graduate Institute in Geneva. "The Bali package was just a way of putting fresh flowers on the grave to remind people of what passed away.
"The big trading nations like India, the United States, the European Union, China and Brazil all went along with it since they wanted to keep the WTO looking relevant."
THE WTO GOES DARK
For several years, many of the bigger economies have been pouring their energies into new clubs aiming to liberalize trade in particular regions or in specific sectors of the economy.
"What WTO promoters fail to understand is that their forum competes with other vehicles for reform. Through poor design, bad luck and bad tactics, the WTO has handicapped itself in this race," said Evenett.
Of all the big economies, India has perhaps bet most on the WTO, with little progress in opening up bilateral or regional ties. Despite its role as a offshore services hub and its vast population, it has yet to sew up a bilateral trade agreement with the EU and an investment treaty with the United States.
The 28-nation EU and the United States, which are trying to negotiate a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, are among pioneers of the smaller clubs, but China is also involved.
Beijing is a member of groups trying to develop new standards for information technology products and environmental goods, and it wants to join one that is working to liberalize trade in services.
Last week's veto prompted some countries to discuss moving ahead with the customs treaty without India.
The last world trade agreement, known as the Uruguay round, was concluded in 1993 and came into force in 1995.
For businesses based on globally mobile funds, data and intellectual property, WTO rules that essentially pre-date the Internet era are hopelessly out of date. Proponents of the new deals think India's new government risks relegating its economy to bureaucratic backwardness if it won't join such reforms.
Some of the existing groups, such as the one on information technology, include the bulk of world exporters and can promise to share the benefits of freer trade with the entire WTO without fear of non-members gaining much from being free-riders.
Others, such as the one on services, will not share the benefits with non-members, at least until a critical mass of countries are inside the club. That could lead to a two-tier WTO in which the leading reformers have the best terms of trade.
Even if it benefits in the end, India will have missed the chance to shape the rules by not being from at the start.
India is also trailing in regional trade agreements, with the United States setting the pace by negotiating simultaneously a 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and a potential deal with the EU, which faces obstacles on both sides.
While such mega-regional agreements grab the headlines, Evenett said they may be almost as hard to clinch as WTO deals.
"Instead, watch out for more unilateral reforms by emerging markets and deals done directly between foreign firms and national governments -- all done a million miles from the WTO."
Informal groups such as the G20 might also be more active in promoting trade, although India is a member there too. Current G20 chair Australia said on Monday it wanted the grouping to do more to remove barriers to commerce. [ID:nL4N0QA215]
Before India's veto, U.S. WTO Ambassador Michael Punke said the Bali deal had turned the lights back on at the WTO, but if India blocked the accord, it would "flip the lights in this building back to dark", with no return to business as usual.
"Many Members, including developing country members, have noted that, if the Bali package fails, there can be no post-Bali. It’s with regret that we agree with them," Punke said.
What it means is that all of the fraud and corruption and protections given the largest players-----AS HAPPENS IN THE US-----makes all of this far from free trade.
I want to remind the American people that across the nation most of the candidates I see for office are still neo-liberals and they are supported by national labor union and justice leaders. In Europe unions are running labor and justice candidates and winning.
WE MUST GET GLOBAL CORPORATE POLS OUT OF BOTH PARTIES!
The Trans-Pacific Partnership treaty is the complete opposite of 'free trade' The TPP would strip our constitutional rights, while offering no gains for the majority of Americans. It's a win for corporations
- 151 Democrats and 23 Republicans (pdf) in the House of Representatives signed letters to the US chief negotiators expressing opposition to a "fast track" procedure for voting on the proposed agreement. This procedure would limit the congressional role and debate over an agreement already negotiated and signed by the executive branch, which the Congress would have to vote up or down without amendments.
Most Americans couldn't tell you what "fast track" means, but if they knew what it entails they would certainly be against it. As one of the country's leading trade law experts and probably the foremost authority on Fast Track, Lori Wallach of Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch, put it:
[Fast track] authorized executive-branch officials to set US policy on non-tariff, and indeed not-trade, issues in the context of 'trade' negotiations.
This means that fast track, which first began under Nixon in 1974, was not only a usurpation of the US Congress' constitutional authority "to regulate commerce with foreign nations".
It also gave the executive branch – which is generally much less accountable to public pressure than the Congress – a means of negating and pre-empting important legislation by our elected representatives. Laws to protect the environment, food safety, consumers (from monopoly pricing), and other public interest concerns can now be traded away in "trade" negotiations. And US law must be made to conform to the treaty.
How ironic that this massive transfer of power to special-interests such as giant pharmaceutical or financial corporations has been sold to the press as a means of holding "special interest" groups – who might oppose tariff reductions that harm them but are good for everyone else – in check.
But the TPP and its promoters are full to the brim with ironies. It is quite amazing that a treaty like the TPP can still be promoted as a "free trade" agreement when its most economically important provisions are the exact opposite of "free trade" – the expansion of protectionism.
Exhibit A was released by WikiLeaks last week: the latest draft of the "intellectual property" chapter of the agreement, one of 24 (out of 29) chapters that do not have to do with trade. This chapter has provisions that will make it easier for pharmaceutical companies to get patents, including in developing countries; have these patents for more years; and extend the ability of these companies to limit access to the scientific data that is necessary for other researchers to develop new medicines. And the United States is even pushing for provisions that would allow surgical procedures to be patented – provisions that may be currently against US law.
All of these measures will help raise the price of medicines and health care, which will strain public health systems and price some people out of the market for important medicines. It is interesting to see how much worse the TPP is than the WTO's Trips (Trade-Related Aspects of International Property Rights). This, too, was a massive rip-off of consumers and patients throughout the world, but after years of struggle by health advocates and public interest groups, some of its worst features were attenuated, and further consolidation of pharmaceutical companies' interests were blocked.
In case you were wondering why we had to get this information from WikiLeaks, it's because the draft negotiating texts are kept secret from the public. Even members of the US Congress and their staff have extremely limited access. Thus the much-maligned WikiLeaks has once again proven how valuable and justified are their efforts to bring transparency to important policy-making that is done in the darkness – whether it is "collateral murder", or other forms of life-threatening unaccountability.
One part of the TPP that shows why negotiators want to minimize public awareness of the agreement consists of provisions giving corporations the right – as is the case under the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta) – to directly sue governments for regulations that infringe upon their profits or potential profits. This, too, is much worse than the WTO, where a corporation has to convince its government to file a case against another government. These private enforcement actions – which if won collect from the defendant government – are judged by special tribunals outside of either country's judicial system, without the kinds of due process or openness that exists, for example, in the US legal system. A currently infamous example is the action by Lone Pine Resources, a Delaware-incorporated company, against the government of Quebec for its moratorium on fracking.
Perhaps less known than its other failings, the TPP doesn't even offer any economic gains for the majority of Americans who are being asked to sacrifice their constitutional rights. The gains from increased trade turn out to be so small that they are equivalent to a rounding error in the measurement of our GDP. The study most touted by proponents of the agreement, published by the Peterson Institute of International Economics, shows a cumulative increase of 0.13% of GDP by 2025. This would be trivial in any case; but the worse news is that, taking into account some of the unequalizing effects of the agreement – these treaties tend to redistribute income upwards – a Centre for Economic and Policy Research study showed that most Americans will actually lose because of the TPP.
US corporate interests are, rather obviously in this case, driving the agenda of the TPP. The agreement is in many ways a "plan B" after the last 12 years of WTO negotiations have stagnated – in large part due to considerable, well-organized public resistance in dozens of countries – and failed to achieve many of the goals of its corporate architects. But other branches of the US government have geostrategic goals as well. The world's would-be rulers also hope to separate the "bad kids" from the "good kids" among developing countries. It is no coincidence that in Latin America, the negotiating partners are Mexico, Chile, and Peru, and none of the leftist governments that now prevail in most of the region. And of course, a main goal of the agreement is to try and "isolate" China.
The Obama administration will no doubt appeal to some members of Congress on the basis of this neocolonial world view. But for Americans who are learning about the agreement, it is clear that the real "us against them" is not America against the more independent nations of the developing world, but TPP countries' citizens against a corporate swindle being negotiated behind their backs.
Trans Pacific Trade Pact is geared to allow global corporations to come to America and operate as they do overseas----
US Tech corporations are already moving back to the US. How long do you think it will be before US workers are treated as these Malaysian workers? You can bet that the answer is 'AS FAST AS POSSIBLE'. This is to where they are going folks! Ask your labor and justice leaders why they support the neo-liberals and neo-cons pushing these policies!
What happens when the Immigration Bill and TPP or Obama's Executive Order allows immigrants to be brought from these nations with global corporations able to work them as if they were in their own nation? It's already happening unofficially----
IF US WORKERS WANT A JOB THEY WILL WORK AS THESE IMMIGRANT WORKERS DO!
Keep in mind that Bill Clinton and neo-liberals worked hard to allow US corporations to go overseas to treat these workers like this-----do you really think they care at all if those workers become you and me? REALLY????
'Forced labor' rife in Malaysian electronics factories: report
By Trinna Leong updated 9/17/2014 12:18:56 AM ET NBC News
KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Nearly a third of some 350,000 workers in Malaysia's electronics industry - a crucial link in the international consumer supply chain - suffer from conditions of modern-day slavery such as debt bondage, according to a study funded by the U.S. Department of Labor.
The survey by Verite, an international labor rights group, found that abuse of workers' rights - particularly the tens of thousands from low-wage countries like Nepal, Myanmar and Indonesia - was rife in a $75 billion sector that is a mainstay of the Southeast Asian country's export-driven economy.
Several U.S., European, Japanese and South Korean multinationals have operations in Malaysia, including Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, Sony Corp, Advanced Micro Devices, Intel, and Bosch Ltd.
Some big brands use suppliers such as Flextronics, Venture Corporation, Jabil Circuit, and JCY International to make parts for smartphones, computers and printers.
The U.S. government funding adds credibility to a report which is likely to come as a surprise to many consumers.
Malaysia is a middle-income country where labor standards have been seen as better than in some of its Asian neighbors such as China, where questionable labor practices have drawn scrutiny in recent years.
Verite did not single out any companies in its report, released on Wednesday, but blamed a system in which government and industry policies have given Malaysian recruitment firms increasing control over workers' pay and other conditions.
"These results suggest that forced labor is present in the Malaysian electronics industry in more than isolated incidents, and can indeed be characterized as widespread," the group said.
Several U.S. companies with operations in Malaysia told Reuters they could not comment until seeing the full report. An Intel spokesman said most of the chipmaker's 8,200 employees in the country were Malaysian and it did not use contractors. Flextronics said it was aware of issues related to foreign workers and had "rigorous" policies to prevent abuses.
Malaysian government officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The study comes three months after Malaysia was downgraded to Tier 3 in the U.S State Department's annual Trafficking in Persons report, which cited a lack of progress in protecting the rights of about four million foreign workers.
The report, based on interviews with 501 workers, found that 28 percent of employees were in situations of "forced labor", where work is coerced through factors including indebtedness from excessive fees charged by recruiters.
That figure rose to 32 percent for foreign workers, who are often mislead about salary and other conditions when they are recruited in home countries, and are commonly charged excessive fees that lead to indebtedness.
Verite said the numbers were based on conservative definitions. It found that 73 percent of workers displayed "some characteristics" of forced labor.
STABILITY, LOW COSTS
Malaysia's electronics and electrical industry made up 33 percent of exports in 2013. In 2011, foreign investment in the sector accounted for $2.68 billion, or 86.5 percent of the total.
Malaysia has benefited in recent years from a reputation for stability and low costs, gaining fresh investment after floods in Thailand in 2011 crippled factory operations there.
On average, workers in the survey were found to have paid 2,985 ringgit ($925) to brokers in their home country and in Malaysia as payment for their passage and jobs. That is more than the average per-capita annual income in Nepal.
Unable to afford a lump sum upfront, more than two thirds of workers who paid broker fees had to borrow money.
One in five immigrants were working more than the suggested 60 hours of overtime a week - the industry's international standard limit - the group said. Malaysian law allows employees to clock up to 72 hours of overtime.
Malaysian laws have been amended in recent years to encourage the growth of recruitment companies that provide workforce services to multinationals, including paying, accommodating and disciplining employees.
"Liability over violations of worker rights is obscured, creating vulnerability on the part of the worker to exploitation and abuse," the group said.
The group found workers' passports were often confiscated by recruitment firms, which is illegal in Malaysia. Some firms were found to charge more than $1,000 for a worker to "borrow" his or her own passport.