TransPacific Partnership Threatens Sovereignty and Public Ownership

Although the TransPacific Partnership negotiations are being kept firmly under wraps, what little has leaked out is so appalling that it legitimates Alex Jones-type fears about world government, or more accurately, a market state where the interests of globe-spanning businesses come first. The TPP expands on NAFTA’s extreme investor-state regime that allows foreign companies to directly challenge a government’s derivatives regulation, capital controls, and other financial, health, and environmental policies.

We’ll be writing more about the TPP, and this Real News Network segment provides a good introduction.

More at The Real News

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  1. Chris-Engel

    I’m becoming more and more appreciative of Paul Jay’s Real News Network.

    TPP hasn’t even been on my radar, and he had on two great guests to discuss this issue, which isn’t given the coverage it deserves in most of the stuff I read.

    I look forward to summer/winter when this issue gains more publicity as it makes its way out of the corporate-advisor-discussion phase and into the “PR blitz to gain public/congressional support” phase.

    Most interesting I think was the point that Japan was actually more interested in its triangular trade relationship (Korea-China-Japan).

    Also, Obama’s military pivot to Asia (something that has been reported and I think makes sense in a lot of ways) combined with this TPP, really show what the global powerbrokers are seeing as the future.

    And of course the biggest question-mark is China. They’re investing hundreds of billions into Africa and Latin America annually now, they’re buddy-buddy with Russia and others — is the US really trying to buy friends in China’s neighbors to position itself for resource-grabbing competition with China?

    This relates to the discussions Yves has been facilitating about free capital flows vs. capital controls, too.

    The main goal of these kinds of agreements is to knock down any and all controls of capital, which of course benefit the capitalists (who are disproportionately Western wealthy guys).

    I’m not sure why the East Asians are falling for this crap after what happened in the 90’s, but because of the secretive nature of the TPP discussions we can’t really debate it properly getting each side’s input.

    1. Bill Smith

      This is the last straw that convinces me that Obama is the Devil Incarnate.

      Just read yesterday that Australia and China agreed to support direct AUD to yuan convertibility, which will save FX transaction cost and cut the USD out of the transaction. This is one more step among BRIC sorts to get out from under dollar hegemony.

      As far as capital controls, as a result of “currency wars” and Fed QE, Korea, Thailand and Malaysia were experiencing large financial inflows that drove up their currencies and was threatening their exports. They responding with cap controls on foreign inflows in order to avoid another 1997 type currency crisis. So it’s surprising that they would want to surrender the power to do that.

      Then there is the new Jap Abe Yen. Would Abe Yen be allowed under TPP?

      Hard to imagine Asia will agree with all these things once passed. Bet they do whatever they want, then we get endless case by case court battles fought by corporations, for the corporate interest. But the sad part is we will get full compliance in the US, which means full corporate control here, and if there was some broader benefit from trade with Asia, it never happens. ( Say, Big Pharma gets US marketing rights to Indian generic drugs so they can double the price and have them drop shipped direct to distribution for our consumption)

      1. Brooklin Bridge

        Check out this picture of the Obamination from the hard right hitting History Channel. Don’t bother with the video, just scroll down to the picture under the, ‘la-la-la, tighten the restraints’ Glen Beck tweet.

        In a grand slam of paradoxical poetic justice, History Channel captured Satan Obummer perfectly! Hell, you can’t even tell if it’s Obama who looks like Satan or Satan who looks like Obama.

        1. Bill Smith

          bwa haaaa haha. My first thought was they found one of Obama’s Kenya pics.

          But having a chuckle along with Glenn Beck is scary tho. But Glenny thinks O is the socialist Satan!

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorHAL

            Every time I hear about Obomba’s “pivot to Asia” it makes me want to vomit. They sh*t the bed across the MidEast, no more countries left to invade or bomb or intimidate, no more war mongering booty to extract for Lockheed or Halliburton or Raytheon, so they turn their sights to Asia (with a short distraction to “al-Qaeda in North Africa”, that died a quick death in the press after they justified beefing up Africom). This is particularly galling since I’m an exiled Yank living in Australia, and this globo-fascist TPP would do things like regulate the minimum wage here, prescribe how they can sell pharma, and route all ISP traffic through US-controlled centralized servers to check for “unauthorized content”. “Free trade” is such a smoke screen as only 2 or 28 major points can validly be called free trade issues, the rest are just billionaire corporatist wish-list items. Obomba: Worst.President.Ever (and that from someone who voted for McGovern Carter Mondale Dukakis Clinton Kerry and Obomba).

      2. nonclassical


        This started out under bushit as “NAFTA Highway”…trained recently (2 years ago) with friend who lives on border-land abuts bridges being built currently for NAFTA highway-this links 2 ports-one east Mexico-one west Mexico with border crossing noted, fenced highway with Mexican truckers driving all the way to Kansas City with no stops-then branches west towards west coast, towards east coast, and north to Canada.

        This is END of shipping from Asia, Europe, etc, to American ports…and will severely undercut U.S. trucking-unions-drivers as well…

        People need to comprehend full impact..

        1. Bill Smith

          You can thank the Port of LA/Long beach longshoreman union for that. Can’t find the article anymore, but I did read they are now the highest paid labor in the country. Average around $80K a year – and you don’t even need a GED.

          Plus, I would bet the City of LA is pretty greedy about fees, seeing as half the nations imports go thru these ports. Just guessing there tho.

          Also heard Mexico is doing a big port expansion in Ensenada and much of the funding is from China. “From Mexico” may know more about that.

          1. different clue

            Well then, all the port workers in Ensenada and all the Mexican truck drivers on the coming NAFTA Highway should be paid $80,000/year as well. Let them compete on better shipping and handling.

          2. tawal

            Like $80,000 a year for WORKING is too much: The Koch brothers earn that much in a minute just by bribing “our” representatives. The best return in the current, hopefully last, empire is $1,000 for every $1PAC’d.

    2. Brooklin Bridge

      I’m becoming more and more appreciative of Paul Jay’s Real News Network.

      Me too, his interviews are consistently outstanding. And this one pushed me over the edge. I’m sending a donation their way.

  2. Jennifer

    Terrific video-the commentators are spot-on about the TPP, looking at their website their organization looks promising. It’s easy to get fatigue about the latest awful thing from Washington, but the TPP really does dial up the corporate hegemony to “11”-basically everything corporations ever wanted but were afraid to ask for, it’s in the TPP. And it can be stopped, if enough people are educated on it.

  3. carol

    Yves: “… We’ll be writing more about the TPP, and this Real News Network segment provides a good introduction. ”

    Thanks in advance for write-up, and yes, informative 10 min. RNN video !

    A) Sueing for missing out on virtual profits?? On what planet are these multinationals operating? Oh my, on planet earth, as a company apparently is sueing Canada for $ 250 million lost fracking profit (how dare the local government prohibit fracking …)

    B) Perpertual pharma patents?? Help! That means no future rulings like the current one by supreme court in India. I suspect Novartis and others can’t wait to have that repealed, see e.g.

    “India’s supreme court has rejected drugmaker Novartis AG’s attempt to patent a new version of a cancer drug in a landmark decision that healthcare activists say ensures poor patients around the world will get continued access to cheap versions of lifesaving medicines.

    Novartis had argued it needed a patent to protect its investment in the cancer drug Glivec, while activists said the company was trying to use loopholes to make more money out of a drug whose patent had expired.

    The decision has global implications since India’s $26bn (£17bn) generic drug industry supplies much of the cheap medicine used in the developing world.”

    C) Circumventing Congress by fast tracking? Why doesn’t Obama apply this procedure the get legislation for the people ? (sorry, rhetorical question)

  4. Stephen Gardner

    It has to become this blatant or people wouldn’t do what must be done: come to stop idolizing the wealthy. Greed has to return to being one of the seven deadly sins. As long as greed is seen as something good we will never restore human values. This may be what it takes.

  5. Alejandro

    Profit: euphemism for concentration of “capital”.

    TBTF and Public-Private alliances minimize (virtually eliminates) the risk to “profit-making”. Now TPP would minimize the effort.

    Side note to consider; nowhere in the US Constitution does the word “Corporation” appear.

  6. Susan the other

    Obama’s last act. This is our dear leader at his finest. This boondoggle of failed western capitalism is almost a farce. Except it is not even slightly funny. If Obama is giving this gift to the transnat corporations, the ultimate beneficiaries are not so much the merchant-manufacturers, but the banksters. This is their way of becoming the overlords of the planet and achieving the final solution to “risk.” Just give them all the once-sovereign power to grab any compensation necessary to cover their stupid, greedy losses. Thailand isn’t too hot on TPP, nor Japan, nor Korea, nor it would seem is Australia who just signed a currency agreement with China! Unless that was April Fools. I guess we’ll know for sure when Mexico and Canada tell us to buzz off. Obama is Gollum.

  7. mmckinl

    Than You Yves … Once again you understand where the “action is” …. The TPP will indeed be a battlefield, a battlefield that we need to understand to prevail.

    But I see Obama is not finished and is proposing the same type of treaty with the EU. One hopes we can stop both of these corporate hegemonics …

    1. nonclassical David Stockman’s NY TIMES report (can’t believe noone here picked it up:

      Reagan’s budget director describes that lobbyists, “Citizens United”, Wall $treet “too big to fail” QE3 bailouts ($80 billion per month for bushit era fraudulent “MBS”) must all go…and Glass-Steagal must be re-instituted…

      and that political campaigns must be publicly financed-all of which some of us here have been defining for years now…

      also proving Reagan was entirely to the “left” of bushbama:

      we know who bushbama really is…

  8. ex-PFC Chuck

    The TPP should ring all sorts of alarm bells for the grass-roots right, as well as progressives and other disillusioned Democrats. There must be a way to build a broad alliance on this and similar issues in order to stop it in its tracks.

    Strategy ideas, anyone?

    1. jrs

      I think this is correct, no conservatives I’ve told about the TPP like it. Because it *is* a threat to sovereignty, a threat to the local ability to make laws, not informing congress *is* unconsitutional etc.. Yea but that’s the people where you might get some consensus. But Obama seems to do pretty much whatever he wants for the corptocracy alone. And his apologists are always with us. buzzing like flies on a turd.

    2. different clue

      I have no strategy ideas. But it would be good if leftists and rightists could agree to co-operate on this one policy goal (the abortion of TPP) without expecting any co-support for any other policy goal.
      If leftists and rightists can join in co-exterminating TPP
      even while throwing battery acid in eachothers’ faces on Gun Control and Abortion Rights, and can both see that both groups together really COULD and DID exterminate TPP, then they might craft other coalitions of the willing-of-convenience against other particular jointly-hated targets.

  9. Chauncey Gardiner

    The secrecy of the negotiations and obfuscation by the current Administration and representatives of U.S. corporations who are involved about what they are doing is very telling. Why are they unwilling to release negotiating texts to Congress or the public?

    Reminiscent of other instances of obfuscation and deception.

    1. Claudius

      This is exactly not true (other than with the caveats mention below). Across the broad majority of the TPP members, this has been, arguably, the most open and public trade agreements – though, how well the (us) public understand this is debatable. Specifically, in regard to your comment:

  10. Massinissa

    I like how the mainstream media isnt covering this AT ALL.

    Ask any bloke walking down the street about this and you would get blank stares, because FOX/MSNBC apparently doesnt think this is important enough to tell people.

    So much for the ‘fourth estate’.

    1. Brooklin Bridge

      This silence is hardly by chance, just as the silence on information that would have made it more difficult to sell us on war with Iraq was hardly by chance. The stenographers so called fourth estate is doing exactly what they are paid to do; keep it as quiet as possible until after the fact and then sell it as inevitable; something Obama was forced to agree to and forced to force it down the throats of his eager unwilling Democrats.

  11. ToivoS

    TPP is basically part of the Asian pivot which is primarily a move against China. When it comes to maintaining US hegemony, the economic costs are not really weighed that highly.

    First, as is discussed in the Realnews interview, it is going to be a tough sell. Those neighbors of China are going to be very reluctant to join some alliance designed to contain China. After all, they will still have to live in the neighborhood after the US is long gone. Indonesia and Thailand must have vivid memories of 1998 financial crises when international FX speculation destroyed their currencies. Why would they even begin to consider giving up on capital control?

    Second, this massive give-away to international corporations is probably an effort to get them to exert their influence (ie bribes) to get these smaller nations to sign on.

    I find it hard to believe that the US is going to be successful in making TPP work. There is going to be a massive struggle behind the scenes between the US and China. Every one on the planet can see that relative US influence in the world is in decline while that of China is in ascendancy. Who in their right mind would bet on the US to win this battle which will be going on for decades to come?

    It may very well come down to the number of leaders international finance capital can buy off. But then we should keep in mind that all they can really do is not buy support, but only rent it until the next revolution.

    1. different clue

      TPP “against” China? Really? I read somewhere that one of the features of TPP is that every “country” joining it agrees that any other future “country” that wants to is free to join it under its current rules. I forget the technical name for that “anyone can join us later” feature is. But it is designed for China to enter the TPP in the fullness of time to provide the very lowest bottom for everyone in the TPP to be forced to race to.

      In other words, according to this theory, the TPP is not designed “against” China. It is designed as a Trojan Horse to be stealth-filled WITH China in the fullness of time.

  12. Brooklin Bridge

    This is pretty horrifying stuff. At this point NAFTA is a known beast and a deeply unpopular one on both fake sides of the fake coin we call the fake two party system. How are they going to get NAFTA on steroids through?

    This whole business of keeping it totally secret and then giving congress only an up or down vote? I find it hard to believe this won’t set off major tremors even with the current comatose public. I’m also horrified we are not hearing more about this right now. The only way the public can bring any pressure to bear at all, if they are the ones being counted on to stop it, is by a blitz of information way in advance.

  13. Paul Tioxon

    When the sun never would dare set on the British Empire, empire was just the 19th century vernacular for today’s globalization. Colonization and new markets were one and same and Marx, among others, in simply reviewing the international business of the British, saw capitalism because not only was it too big to miss, but also, it had arrived at an appropriate scale for analysis. Today, the transnational business arrangement, formally negotiated by the nation states is still, simply, capitalism. The unending accumulation of profits, with the state and market working in coordination, without the need of superstitious fear of religion or the force of arms of the state, but the uniform commercial, socialized behavior of all of humanity brought into the world wide cash economy.

    Really, sovereignty is being re-negotiated in a 21st Century Westphalian system defining the limits of activity that will not trigger a military struggle for supremacy. What everyone will finally have in common is NOT that we will all be liberated from having to work to live, but that we ALL will have to work for money, whether or not we can afford life will be another matter. Maybe this will extend the shelf life of capitalism. Or maybe not. But change is usually the sign that something is not working and trial and error operates to move beyond the current state of instability.

  14. nonclassical

    “Really, sovereignty is being re-negotiated in a 21st Century Westphalian system defining the limits of activity that will not trigger a military struggle for supremacy. What everyone will finally have in common is NOT that we will all be liberated from having to work to live, but that we ALL will have to work for money, whether or not we can afford life will be another matter. Maybe this will extend the shelf life of capitalism. Or maybe not. But change is usually the sign that something is not working and trial and error operates to move beyond the current state of instability.”

    exactly, Paul T…as BRIC countries undermine IMF-World Bank-U.S. domination of international monetary system, U.S. “remains” (double-entendre’) with only military power…just returned from Grand Junction, Colorado-drone land, U.S.A.
    ….coming “our” way…will the American people accept what is coming….(neofeudalism)…

  15. Alex

    Is’n this a nice example for why The Powers need the Democratic Party? A Romney, a Bush couldn’t have pushed this through, there would have been just too much resistance—but who would put up resistance against a democratic president in a case like this? The Reps will love it, and most Dems will be loyal to the president.

  16. kris

    It seems to me that Pharma lobby finances the democrats and oil lobby finances the republicans and both lobbies fight for government funds.

    The bankers just want to make money out of both of them.

  17. Claudius

    I just got off a long flight so, maybe I’m a bit grouchy in commenting on this topic

    I don’t doubt the integrity and passion of opponents to the US ratification of the TPP. But, integrity and passion without objectivity is just a point of view. Objectively, there is more (and less) to the narrative presented in this video article by its principal protagonists; Kevin Reese (KR) and Margret Flowers (MF).

    Setting a baseline:
    The TPP is not a creation of the US government; it didn’t originate with the US’s corporate body. And, “16 rounds of negotiations over 3 years….. Pretty much in secret except the 600 corporate advisors develop the terms” (KR); may be perceived as true for the US contingent, but for the agreement as a whole it’s far from correct in both period of negotiation and openness. With regards to “docking agreement….have to agree everything already negotiated’ (MF) is, technically, correct, but this, arguably is more or a negative to US neo-liberal business interests (and something on which the US is, unsuccessfully, resisting). “Only five to do with traditional trade”…..from “26 chapters” (MF) is a “misstatement”. And as for “Obama, leading the charge” (KR) on the TPP this is just wrong.

    TPP origins:
    The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade negotiations grew out of an earlier preferential trade agreement (PTA) known as the ‘Pacific 4’ or ‘P4’ (Australia, Singapore, Chile and New Zealand). At several Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings in the 1990s (the United States was participant, informally – with observer status) and held discussions to explore mechanisms for creating a new trade agreement among the P4 countries; though it amounted to little (due to Australia’s ambivalence).

    As such Singapore, New Zealand and Chile launched separate negotiations at the APEC Summit in 2002 culminating in April 2005 – at which point Brunei joined the negotiations – concluding, unexpectedly, with the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement (TPSEP – the ‘P4’); which was announced at the APEC Trade Ministers meeting in June 2005.

    US Participation:
    But, what caused, the US to suddenly stop observing and start participating? It was that TPSEP was being discussed in response to the difficulties of concluding the Doha round negotiations in the WTO (which were perceived as, essentially, a US business club – primarily charged with passively resisting entry of Asian countries into domestic markets). More notable to the US, was that the twenty chapters in the TPSEP Agreement were accompanied by two memoranda of understanding (MOUs issued separately) on environmental and labor cooperation – largely, seen as positive by the TPSEP members’ businesses, trade unions and workers councils.

    The catch:
    Although the environmental and labor agreements were announced as separate documents; any member wanting to exit any part of the existing agreements automatically exited all agreements. In short, TPSEP members could not sign up to all chapters of the agreement believing that they could later abrogate say, labor agreements by driving down wages “anti-competitively” (in the same way Germany had) or existing labor laws and protections out of existence (The agreements came into effect in 2006 the year after the US expressed interest in membership (see below) and despite a request to hold off on ratification of the TPSEP).

    TPSEP was negotiated from its inception with an accession clause so as to permit other states an opportunity to join – providing, upon entry, they agreed with existing chapters. A clause viewed, as essential, as a means of progressively reaching a larger trade agreement with a larger coalition of states (Singapore had learned a hard lesson in trying to establish free trade agreement with either the ten member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) or the 21-member APEC. But, brokering a Free Trade Area of Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) in the 21 member APEC had all but died due to new participants attempts to modify agreements already in place).

    TPSEP was regarded as being of a high standard because it openly highlighted a ‘negative list’ – broadly viewed as more trade ‘liberalizing’ (i.e. disadvantageous compared to existing PTAs) and a ‘Positive List’ (advantages). The positive list included additional chapters such as technical barriers to trade (TBT), competition policy government procurement, intellectual property rights, dispute settlement, and importantly (despite its perfunctory title) sanitary and phyto-sanitary standards (SPS – setting standards for GMO, Food and bio-products).

    So (in 2005), the US is not even a party TPSEP; a treaty that may expand further to include a large proportion of APEC members with Singapore (HK-SAR (China)) at the Financial center; and the qualifying terms (arguably negative terms, from a US perspective) of their future participation had already been set down, and continue to be promulgated, with the US abstentia.

    Bye-bye Bush:
    Still, it took three years (September 2008) before George W. Bush’s Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Susan Schwab announced that the United States would join the TPSEP agreement. Acknowledging, perhaps, their concerns: ‘This high-standard regional agreement will enhance the competitiveness of the countries that are part of it and help promote and facilitate trade and investment among them, increasing their economic growth and development.’ And, (arrogantly?): ‘Ultimately, the objective is to expand the membership of the Agreement to other nations that share our vision of free and fair trade. Australia and Peru joined, Vietnam asked for observer status, Japan ‘mulled and in November 2009, the US officially became participant in the talks.

    Hello Obama:
    TPSEP transmuted into the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) talks. The first round of TPP negotiations was held in Melbourne in March 2010, Vietnam participated as an observer, and in October 2010, Malaysia officially joined to become the ninth TPP member.

    The February 2011 meeting in Chile was more substantive, the agenda expanded and with the exchange of drafts and progress towards working legal texts, talks began on exchanging specific offers as they related to all TPSEC chapters. The United States joined into the negotiations on the two TPSEP “deficient” chapters – financial services and investment (acting as a ‘counter-party’ peer to Singapore to better progress ratification).

    Notably, for the first time the scheduled of official meetings, topic, speakers and participants were published, publicly; each member engage with various domestic stakeholders. These range from encouraging public submissions and comments for officials to small, private sessions arranged by industry or by government – the USTR reached out to all fifty states ( . Similar stakeholder meetings, in all member countries have occurred, subsequently, with each negotiating rounds.

    Any international negotiation has as its premise a confidential undertone while negotiating are on-going; but, this type of outreach to various stakeholders is hardly the “…negotiated pretty much in secret except for the 600 corporate advisors” (KR) or captains of industry hidden away in smoke filled rooms harmonized by incantations of the illuminate.

    Wax on, wax off:
    There’s too much one can say about the TPP; but, in short: if there has been one overarching criticism of the US, it has been its “request” to transpose its current PTA (existing, narrow, trade agreements agreed through bilateral negotiations with member countries) onto the TPP (which would undercut the original TPSE accession agreements – the acceptance of which was a condition for joining).

    In bilateral negotiations, being the most powerful country in the talks with a size that dominates the United States can, typically, get what it wants. But dominating the TPP negotiations has proven more difficult (a situation not improved if Japan joins) as the remaining eight members remain united in opposition to US PTA transpositions. And that is, generally, a good thing. Perhaps, because of the TPP’s origins, there are a lot of good (and not so good) initiatives in there – initiatives not usually found in trade agreements undertaken from a hegemonic position.

    Whether one is an advocate for the TPP or against it, the key to and any understanding of it is objective analysis, factual appreciation of events and not being wedded to a schism – NAFTA is a different agreement with different origins. I would agree that NAFTA lesson should be learned and experience brought to bear, but it shouldn’t be conflagrated with TPP.

    The devil is in the detail; and I’ll be interested to read the detailed review of the TPP on NC.

      1. Claudius

        I have seen no mention of the IMF’s involvement (even in an advisory capacity with regards to the Chapter on Finance).

        The only reference is being (from the US, Congress )… ‘A new approach to capital controls by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which has pointed to usefulness of capital controls in ameliorating the effects of capital
        volatility during periods of economic instability’ which may also affect the outcome of the negotiations’. But,note that the US’s FTA (PTA) has bilateral Capital Controls already negotiated.

        1. skippy

          Ideological White Papers dressed up as empirical observation my good… Sir.

          If you could… remind me of the staffing quintiles and its reflection on financial acumen wrt global optics and where all the sugar comes from… someone has to pay the bills… eh.

          Skippy… my personal fav… is on employment morbidity… could have sworn they plagiarized someones work from a few thousand years ago…. and dressed it up with some quasi scientific burnishing… eh.

  18. Vedette Candie

    Hi there! I could have sworn I’ve been to this website before but after browsing through a few of the articles I realized it’s new to me. Anyways, I’m certainly delighted I found it and I’ll be book-marking it and checking back frequently!

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