The Secret Treaty That Could Ruin The World

In recent years, the Obama administration has put its full weight behind “fast tracking”

In recent years, the Obama administration has put its full weight behind “fast tracking”

the Trans-Pacific Partnership, eliminating Congress’s ability to edit or stall the

agreement. In response, Wikileaks recently released classified documents from the secret

arrangement, and condemned the partnership in a press release. So what’s the big deal?

The US has fast tracked a number of trade agreements between countries in the last decade,

what’s so scary about the Trans-Pacific Partnership?

Well, first of all, this agreement covers a huge section of the world. It governs international

investments and trade regulations between the United States, Australia, Brunei, Canada,

Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam. Together, these

countries represent more than 40% of the world’s GDP, and make for the single largest economic

treaty ever.

The most recent Wikileaks release revealed that the partnership establishes extrajudicial

courts in which corporations can potentially sue countries over laws and policies that

affect a company’s future profits. This is a huge deal. Imagine a tobacco company

suing a country because their anti-smoking regulations could potentially hurt the company’s

profits. Sound unlikely? Well, in 2011, tobacco giant Philip Morris used some clever legal

maneuvering to sue Australia for that exact reason on the basis of an outdated trade agreement

with Hong Kong.

The Obama administration has promised that the deal will increase jobs, boost US exports,

and lower tariffs on US products in Asia, which will let the US compete more aggressively

against China. However, economists like Robert Reich have called this a global “race to

the bottom”. That’s an economic term for when governments reduce regulations and taxes

in order to attract investing companies. This practice has the added effect of lessening

labor laws, lowering wages, and raising the rate of outsourcing. Additionally, Democratic

Senator Ben Cardin [KAR-din] has voiced concerns that three of the countries, Brunei, Malaysia,

and Vietnam, have histories of human rights abuses.

Since 2012 there have been a number of protests and petitions to stop the TPP, or at the very

least to release the information within the agreement. In a surprising twist, several

House Democrats have vehemently opposed the idea of fast tracking the deal, while Republicans

have shown strong support for the President.

So what’s so bad about the Trans Pacific Trade Agreement? In short, it’s a classified

deal that creates an international court not bound by the laws of any country, that allows

companies to sue countries over potential lost profits. Although supporters of the deal

say that it is a means of future economic growth, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange warns

that “Similar tribunals have already been shown to chill the adoption of sane environmental

protection, public health and public transport policies." With nearly 800 million people

likely to be affected by this agreement, shouldn’t we know what’s in the agreement before it

becomes law?

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