Trump Silent on TiSA (TPP on Steroids)

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Email from Trade for People and Planet Team:

Dear Corporate Greed Resisters,

The Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) is currently being negotiated among 50 countries with the objective of expanding on the existing General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) in the World Trade Organization (WTO).

While President Trump has had a lot to say about the TPP and NAFTA, he has not offered public comment on TiSA, which thus far has major provisions to deregulate and privatize the international service economy, including the financial industry and big data.

Deborah James, Director of International Programs for the Center for Economic and Policy Research, has clearly outlined Trump’s likely incentives to continue with TiSA negotiations. She reminds us that Trump is not against corporate-driven trade agreements. So you can bet that corporations are actively lobbying in Washington for deregulation and privatization, which Trump and his cabinet are actively seeking to implement domestically. Finally, TiSA is focused on services and not necessarily manufacturing, meaning that opposition from manufacturing workers may be lower as the agreement is focused on the service economy.

Here is where things gets scary. Team TiSA – a consortium of multinational financial, logistics, and big data corporations – are looking to set severe limits on how governments can regulate economies domestically while providing strict investor rights provisions. Deborah James outlined ten aspects of TiSA that have been accepted by all parties or are under negotiations that could have significant consequences:

  1. Companies are expanding the category of “services” in order to make it all-encompassing so that the agreement could apply as broadly within the economy as possible.
  2. Offshoring and outsourcing of jobs and downward pressure on wages could greatly accelerate as TiSA would lock in labor, tax, and regulatory arbitrage.
  3. Not only would TiSA promote offshoring of jobs, but it would also greatly expand domestic “inshoring.” Foreign contractors (say from Japan) would be able to bring in workers (say from Philippines) to conduct work inside a consumer country (say the United States) on terms well below the minimum local pay and standards.
  4. The TiSA does not include a labor chapter, and in fact the draft texts only mention labor rights once.
  5. Preventing governments at the national, state, and even municipal levels from supporting local business and local employment.
  6. The principle of “technological neutrality which TiSA negotiators take as a given would have immeasurable job impacts particularly with regard to the “gig” economy. So if a country opened its market to passenger transport services, it could not apply new and different rules to Uber than to traditional taxicabs.
  7. Job loss as a result of privatization would increase as publicly owned utilities would have to compete under the same rules as private companies, reducing the benefits of public ownership, resulting in the elimination of jobs that inevitably follows privatization.
  8. The financial services text of the TiSA is the closest thing imaginable to a guarantee of another job-killing financial crisis. If the draft texts were accepted, the TiSA would constrain governments from implementing most of the regulations that are recognized, both domestically and internationally, as essential to prevent another global financial crisis.
  9. Workers would have to shoulder even more of the tax burden as corporate tax evasions would accelerate.
  10. The TiSA could potentially be used as the basis of a foreign company’s claim against the United States.

For more details on each point, read Deborah James’s entire article here.

The jury is still out on what the actual contents of the agreement will be under the new administration. However, we do know that the TiSA has been and continues to be a notably secretive agreement with no transparency or public participation. Check out this article by the Electronic Frontier Foundation to learn about their proposals to create inclusive and transparent trade negotiations.

We also know that Congress gave the presidency Fast Track authority under Obama, and this authority has been inherited by President Trump. According to Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch Director Lori Wallach, this means that “Congress has empowered Trump to unilaterally launch NAFTA renegotiations or create bilateral deals with Mexico and Canada; determine the contents, sign and enter into deals before Congress gets a vote; and then write implementing legislation and force congressional consideration in 90 days with amendments forbidden and Senate supermajority rules suspended.” This applies to TiSA as well and is why we were so adamant about pressuring Congress to reject Fast Track in the first place.

Please take a minute and resend this email to 2-5 people. The people need to know what is behind TiSA!

Join our weekly National People’s Agenda Call next Wednesday, Feb. 22 at 9pm EST/ 6pm PST. We need to work together to stop TiSA from passing and to fight the consolidation of the global deregulatory and privatizing machine.

Click here to register for the call.

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Obama Loses Senate Vote on TPP(A)

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Wellington anti-TPPA protest Nov 2014

Yet another victory for our side. The tide seems to be turning against corporate America.

Today the Guardian reported that Tuesday’s 52-45 senate vote shut down further discussion of the Transpacific Partnership Agreement. Owing to the threat of filibuster, this procedural vote required at least 60 “ayes” in order to let the Senate host discussions on whether or not to give the president “fast track” authority.* Failure to reach that threshold puts the future of the TPP(A) in jeopardy.

The proposal was defeated by Democrats wanting to add measures to protect US workers and prevent currency manipulation.

Most analysts agree that the eleven other countries negotiating TPP(A) are unlikely to agree to the treaty unless they know the US Senate will approve it without modification.

Many also believe the setback spells an end to any chance the US will sign up to the TPP(A) before the next US presidential election in late-2016.

According to the Guardian, TPPA opponents have been emboldened by the growing influence of liberal senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders and were joined by all but one Senate Democrat in voting against moving forward with TPP.

Only one Democrat, Senator Tom Carper of Delaware, backed the measure. Pro-trade Oregon Senator Ron Wyden, who championed the fast track measure in committee, changed his vote to “no.” He’s insisting that fast track be bundled together with three other trade bills, including one that would impose import duties on countries that manipulate their currencies for unfair trade advantage.

TPP is a secret treaty being negotiated behind closed doors without input from the public or elected representatives. Documents released by Wikileaks in March revealed the TPP(A) has a clause known as Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS). It means if local or national governments enact legislation for greater environmental protections, health regulations or rules to assist local businesses – anything that interferes with foreign corporations’ profits – the corporations can sue them in secret tribunals run by corporate lawyers.

Here in New Zealand, we are especially concerned about a clause in the leaked text that would allow pharmaceutical companies to sue us for using generic drugs (in preference to brand named drugs) in our National Health Service. We’re also concerned the TPP(A) would enable Monsanto to sue us over laws that prohibit farmers from planting GMO crops.

Besides the US and New Zealand, the other 10 countries involved in TPP(A) negotiations are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico Peru, Singapore, the and Vietnam.

Read more here


*With “fast track” authority, the Senate would be forced to vote a bill approving TPP(A) up or down without amending it.