The TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) - let's not work together

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The Trans-Pacific Partnership: let’s not work together


DonkeyHotey under a Creative Commons Licence

Let’s all agree to work together to solve the problems that face us all.

People often say this. Politicians always say we must join hands, stop disagreeing and work together.

But there’s a problem: this could mean the politicians work to make things better for big business and worse for the 99 per cent. So it’s not good to work together.

In 2007, when Barack Obama was a senator trying to get to the White House, I saw him campaign in Iowa. He talked about working as a community organizer, he said he was against the Iraq War, he promised to close Guantánamo, and to tell the lobbyists that they will not control Washington any more.

But he also wanted to work together with everyone else.

Now in 2015, Obama’s presidency is coming to an end. Congress do not agree with him, but he has done some good things: eg. about immigration. But he has not followed his promise to take power away from lobbyists.

We can see this because he supports the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP. This trade agreement between 12-countries would create a new trade group, bringing countries around the Pacific (eg. Japan and Chile) together with the US. This is like what the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, TTIP, threatens to do with Europe. Time magazine has said it could be the largest free trade agreement ever. But the public cannot see what the agreements are. And Obama is trying to approve the agreement quickly with little checking by Congress and only one final vote.

We know that the TPP is similar to other trade agreements we’ve had before. Business people have written most of it. It allows businesses to sue to stop things that are good for the public. Oil companies have done this to attack environmental laws. And financial firms are doing this to try to break free of the restrictions created after the financial crisis.

People fighting for internet freedom say that the TPP would stop sharing information and free speech. Also, Doctors Without Borders are against the TPP. They say the agreements from large pharmaceutical companies would stop people getting generic medicines, so millions of people will not have enough money to pay for treatments that save lives.

Getting some Democrats and Republicans together to pass the TPP is working together. But it’s not bringing the American people together.

A lot of people, and political parties, do not agree with corporate globalization. In 2005, most Democrats in the House of Representatives voted against the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). It just passed through Congress, but only after a lot of pressure from President Bush and House Republican leaders on members of their own party.

The Times said that business groups lobbied (fought) hard for the trade pact. People expect business groups to lobby hard again with the TPP. They will use the power they have got by giving money to political campaigns.

If this is working together, I think we need to disagree more.

Obama has chosen the wrong issue to work together on. The TPP is bad. And we shouldn’t try to work together on bad ideas.


Mark Engler, a senior analyst with Foreign Policy In Focus, is writing a book about the political nonviolence. See his website

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