May 8th, 2012
Secretive talks on the Trans-Pacific Partnership began in Dallas today. The TPP is likely to become the biggest free trade agreement in US history, dwarfing even the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Currently, the TPP already includes the countries of Chile, Brunei, New Zealand and Singapore. The US, Peru, Australia, Malaysia and Vietnam are currently negotiating for entry into the pact, and Japan and China may follow soon after.
To learn more about the TPP, including its most egregious provisions (which we know of only from leaked documents), read Public Citizen’s page on the agreement. Some of the most relevant clauses from our perspective would:
• Allow companies to acquire land, natural resources or factories without government review. This is particularly notable in light of recent resource battles in the Peruvian Amazon and elsewhere.
• Increase corporate access to strategic industrial materials by forcing governments to financially compensate them for any “future lost profits” caused by new environmental, labor or other regulations.
These ongoing negotiations show that in spite of setbacks suffered in the pursuit of large free trade agreements, these concerns are still very high on the corporate-government agenda. The secret nature of the negotiations highlights the limitations of working within the system to stop these power and resource grabs—particularly when the system itself is the problem.