Sunday, November 08, 2015

Trudeau And The TPP


                                           https://www.popularresistance.org/

Justin Trudeau will be tested on many fronts. One of the most important fronts is international trade -- where the TPP has just landed in his lap. Tom Walkom writes:

Released Thursday, the final text confirms most critics’ fears.
Certain kinds of new-generation prescription pharmaceuticals will receive enhanced patent protection. That means they will become more expensive — both for individuals and provincial drug plans.

“The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a bad deal for medicine,” said the aid group Doctors Without Borders.

Governments will find it harder to protect the privacy of Canadian citizens. If, for instance, a Canadian credit card company wants to store electronic information in cheaper data banks abroad, governments will be able to intervene only if they can prove a “legitimate policy objective.”

The dispute settlement system that already allows American and Mexican companies to challenge Canadian environmental and other laws before special trade arbitrators has been expanded to include all nations in the TPP.

The new pact will deviate from the existing North American Free Trade Agreement in that hearings held under this system will now be open to the public — unless the arbitrators decide otherwise.

Oh yes. And the threshold for reviewing foreign takeovers of Canadian companies has been raised from $600 million to $1.5 billion.

But the most immediate casualty of the new deal is the Canadian auto industry. Under NAFTA, only auto parts containing 60 per cent North American content could move duty-free between Canada, the U.S. and Mexico.

Earlier this fall, the Harper government admitted that the TPP would reduce this local content threshold to 40 per cent. The final text shows that for some crucial auto parts, the new threshold is even lower — 35 per cent.

What this means in practice is that auto makers operating within the TPP will be able to obtain up to 65 per cent of their parts outside the trade bloc — from cheap-labour countries like Thailand.

Clearly, the TPP is meant to enshrine neo-liberalism's global juggernaut. Put bluntly, it threatens the kind of democracy Trudeau has been preaching. 

It will not be easy to renegotiate the pact. It will not be easy to walk away from it. But it would be foolish to reject either option.


18 comments:

Lorne said...

I suspect, Owen, that this is going to be one of our first disappointments with the Trudeau government, in that he is an advocate of liberalized trade. From what I have read thus far, it is hard to see what benefits there are in this deal for Canada, other than an increase in beef exports. The costs will be high, as Thomas Walkom indicates.

Chris hedges also offers a very sobering view of the TPP here: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/the_most_brazen_corporate_power_grab_in_american_history_20151106#14469886972641&action=collapse_widget&id=0&data=

Owen Gray said...

Thanks for the link, Lorne. Hedges has it right:


If there is no sustained popular uprising to prevent the passage of the TPP in Congress this spring we will be shackled by corporate power. Wages will decline. Working conditions will deteriorate. Unemployment will rise. Our few remaining rights will be revoked. The assault on the ecosystem will be accelerated. Banks and global speculation will be beyond oversight or control. Food safety standards and regulations will be jettisoned. Public services ranging from Medicare and Medicaid to the post office and public education will be abolished or dramatically slashed and taken over by for-profit corporations. Prices for basic commodities, including pharmaceuticals, will skyrocket. Social assistance programs will be drastically scaled back or terminated. And countries that have public health care systems, such as Canada and Australia, that are in the agreement will probably see their public health systems collapse under corporate assault. Corporations will be empowered to hold a wide variety of patents, including over plants and animals, turning basic necessities and the natural world into marketable products. And, just to make sure corporations extract every pound of flesh, any public law interpreted by corporations as impeding projected profit, even a law designed to protect the environment or consumers, will be subject to challenge in an entity called the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) section. The ISDS, bolstered and expanded under the TPP, will see corporations paid massive sums in compensation from offending governments for impeding their “right” to further swell their bank accounts. Corporate profit effectively will replace the common good.

Steve said...

Owen the Owen the nail that sticks out gets hammered down. That is the extessential question our new PM must consider when choosing Canada's future. If your going to kill the King you better do it right on the first strike. The TPP is the King, if Justin chooses to slay it and fails, there will be real consequences. Its a fucking peice of shit document that no sane citizen would ever sign. It has very little to do with free trade, its all about protecting multiinationls from future competition. Its a barrier to free trade. Iceland went against the grain and I belive won, Ireland in exactly the same peirl capitulated. As Ho Chi Min said about the French revolution, its too soon to tell who choose wisely. I would reject this TPP, we send them meat, trees and wheat, and they send us cars, sounds like slavery to me.nail that sticks out gets hammered down. That is the extessential question our new PM must consider when choosing Canada's future. If your going to kill the King you better do it right on the first strike. The TPP is the King, if Justin chooses to slay it and fails, there will be real consequences. Its a fucking peice of shit document that no sane citizen would ever sign. It has very little to do with free trade, its all about protecting multiinationls from future competition. Its a barrier to free trade. Iceland went against the grain and I belive won, Ireland in exactly the same peirl capitulated. As Ho Chi Min said about the French revolution, its too soon to tell who choose wisely. I would reject this TPP, we send them meat, trees and wheat, and they send us cars, sounds like slavery to me.

I said it twice for full effect, actually it was a copy mistake!

Owen Gray said...

Your comment deserves to be repeated, Steve.

Raven Corvoid said...

Steve are you a repeating verbalist? You repeat yourself twice identical words in the last post did you think we were not listening? That being said I agree but once was more than enough. Here from a man that knows:

The Trans-Pacific Free-Trade Charade:

https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/trans-pacific-partnership-charade-by-joseph-e--stiglitz-and-adam-s--hersh-2015-10

You know this is wrong so do I Joe Stiglitz spells it out. He is one on the world stage to be listened to. And here is why:

https://www.globalpolicy.org/social-and-economic-policy/the-three-sisters-and-other-institutions/internal-critics-of-the-world-bank-and-the-imf/42796-joseph-stiglitz.html

If Trudeau goes with this corporate rip-off pact we will know we have been had. We go from one corporate dictatorship to another just in with a prettier face.

WTF did Harper say "The People have spoken and the people are never wrong" where do you think that came from? Corporate kleptocracy Que no or Que Si? And the answer will be>>>> Kay sera sera the future is not ours to see they keep telling us that for us to go back to sleep and not pay attention. Time to wake up kids and pay attention. What's that old old old saying you can pay me now or you can pay me later?

With this TPP "scam" you will be paying forever more I kid you not :>

ron wilton said...

I believe the judge(Portia?) in The Merchant of Venice allowed that Shylock was indeed 'entitled' by law to his 'pound of flesh', but cautioned that 'not one drop of blood shall you take' under pain of severe punishment if you do.

This 'partnership' is oozing blood out of every pore and as such, if ratified, there will indeed be rioting in the streets across the land that will make the Toronto G20 riot look like a garden party.

Owen Gray said...

The powers behind this deal don't understand the anger that has been building about this way of doing business, ron. Acceptance of this deal could trigger a reaction which could get very nasty.

Owen Gray said...

Let's hope that Trudeau's election is a sign that people aren't asleep, Raven.

Askingtherightquestions said...

Perhaps the two questions that have yet to be asked, Owen are these:

1. Has any "free trade" deal EVER been beneficial to the majority of citizens of Canada? (data on NAFTA are readily available, for example)

2. Why the secrecy and "fast tracking" of the TPP if it is such an exceptional deal for Canada?

These questions need to be asked and for once, critically evaluated by ALL Canadians. What effect does the loss of sovereignty to international corporate interests have on a wide range of Canadian environmental, agricultural, health and social services? What is the net benefit for Canadians of the TPP (versus corporate lawyers and executives)? Mel Hurtig covered many of these issues regarding NAFTA in the 1990's. If an evidence based approach is taken to the TPP to answer the above questions - then the TPP would be rejected. It is time that the neoliberal codswap that is "free trade" needs to be addressed for what it is, and that is NOT about trading freely!!

The Mound of Sound said...

I think Trudeau and every democratic leader has an obligation to explain their position in supporting or rejecting agreements like the TPP. Let's have an adult conversation. Let's toss about what it means, the upsides and the down and all the collateral considerations. What's wrong in expecting elected leadership to explain themselves and justify their actions? Harper, with his omnibus legislation, did exactly the opposite. There was no consultation, no explanations that could be tested against the facts.

We should have similar discussions about tough issues of foreign and defence policy, trade and sovereignty, resource policy and climate change. Trudeau's majority means he can harness "whole of government" resources to inform the public because only an informed public can truly consent to be governed. We are not idiots nor are we so besotted by self interest that we can't act with maturity if we're treated as adults.

Anonymous said...

What do you think would've happened to the seat share if details of this little tidbit had been released during the election Owen?

I'm no conspiracy theorist but I wonder what's up with the timing on this?

Owen Gray said...

The folks behind this deal have worked very hard to keep the details secret, Anon. That suggests that they knew how disturbing those details would be. They sought to keep the details secret until they believed nothing could be done about them.

Owen Gray said...

I agree, Mound. We are quite capable of having a thorough and a wide ranging discussion of the agreement. That's what is supposed to happen in a true democracy.

Owen Gray said...

Absolutely true, Asking. If we are now dedicated to "evidence based policy making," then we had better take a careful look at the evidence behind the TPP.

Hugh said...

ISDS in these "trade deals" allows foreign companies and investors to sue Canada over our laws and policies they don't like. An example is Eli Lilly suing Canada for $500 million under ISDS in NAFTA.

Owen Gray said...

NAFTA set up Investor Settlement Dispute Mechanisms, Hugh. Now they are firmly entrenched in all trade agreements. They side step democracy -- on purpose.

Hugh said...

Did you see this about the TPP?

http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/jim-balsillie-tpp-1.3310179

Owen Gray said...

I saw that story, Hugh. It seems to me that Balsillie is in a unique situation to pass judgement on the deal.