A deal is being struck in order to tighten the control of U.S. corporations on the world markets that will have huge consequences for workers in the United States, Asia, and everywhere else – the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The ruling class of the U.S. wants the TPP so badly that both parties, Republicans and Democrats, voted overwhelmingly to pass bills enabling the Obama administration to “fast-track” the TPP in the House and the Senate.
The TPP is a trade agreement which would lower trade barriers and create a free trade zone in countries including Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam. The TPP allows huge corporations and banks, in the U.S. and elsewhere, to dictate the social and economic policies of poorer countries, often denying these countries the ability to continue to build up their own domestic industry. It creates special courts which enforce the rules of the trade agreement. The promises of the Obama administration are that this agreement would create jobs and promote economic security for people in the countries involved. But based on other trade agreements that have been passed, nothing could be further from the truth.
The TPP is another trade deal like the North American Free Trade Agreement passed in 1994, and the Central American Free Trade Agreement passed in 2005. These deals opened the borders, not to people, but to money. Investment flowed to where ever the cheapest labor was. And the result is that under these trade deals more than one million jobs in the U.S. were destroyed as companies moved to Central and South America to employ much cheaper labor. In addition, these deals allow companies in the U.S. to flood the markets of other countries with cheap products. U.S. agriculture companies destroyed the domestic livestock and corn production in Mexico by selling cheap corn, pork, beef, and chicken, which was subsidized by the U.S. government in order to create artificially low prices. The results are dramatic. Since 1994 rural poverty in Mexico has risen from 30 percent to 55 percent. This collapse of the Mexican economy forced millions of people to immigrate to the U.S. The number of Mexican-born people living in the U.S. increased from 4.5 million in 1990 to 12.67 million by 2008 – working the worst jobs, with little to no protection, under constant threat of deportation.
The TPP not only removes barriers, but also allows these huge corporations to dictate the laws of the countries under the agreement. Through creating a new court system, called a “tribunal,” the TPP allows big corporations to rely on this new court to strike down laws that violate so-called free trade. This already happens in countries who are under the World Trade Organization (WTO). For example in 2012, the WTO struck down a U.S. law requiring food companies to label their products with the country of origin. U.S. food manufacturers had lobbied Congress to do this for years, but most people are in favor of knowing where their food comes from. It was difficult to strike down the law through the federal government, so the food manufacturers turned to the WTO. A similar case was launched by the French company Veolia in 2011, which sued the Egyptian government for raising the minimum wage. Likewise the Renco Group sued Peru for halting its construction of highly polluting metal smelting plants. The TPP is just another way to give huge corporations the power to dictate national policies and remove laws that stand in their way of generating more profit.
Who wants the TPP? Huge companies who carry out horribly polluting enterprises look forward to using the TPP to operate across the globe without restrictions. Companies like Dow Chemical and Exxon Mobil already have nearly 600 cases against them from 100 different governments for violating environmental laws. The TPP will facilitate this attack on the environment. Pharmaceutical companies want to use the TPP to maintain their control over drug patents so they can continue to charge outrageous prices.
The TPP is nothing entirely new. It is just another extension of the power of U.S. companies to dominate the world. It knocks down the barriers limiting U.S. capitalism from restructuring other economies, further exploiting workers in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. And it enables huge corporations to attack workers everywhere by demanding concessions or imposing layoffs and moving operations to other countries where labor is cheap. By negotiating this treaty, the U.S. government is tightening the control of U.S. corporations on the world.