Sunday, February 01, 2015

Globalization On Steroids

Politico reports the Obama Administration is pushing hard for trade promotion authority, which would

would expedite the passage of trade deals by letting Obama submit the final agreements to Congress for an up-or-down vote, without amendments. That authority is viewed as key to wrapping up two giant agreements — the Trans-Pacific Partnership with 11 Asia-Pacific countries, and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the 28 nations of the European Union — because other nations would have the assurance that Congress won’t undo any concessions included in the deals....

“We share same values and are looking out for the same people,” Obama said in response to a question from Washington Rep. Derek Kilmer, who said he was still undecided despite his state’s dependence on trade.   

If Kilmer's votes on Keystone XL are any indication, there is little indication who the people are the congressman is looking out for. But we can figure out who the President is looking out for and what his values are.   The TPP has been negotiated in secret, but Robert Reich (his video, below) explains

What’s been leaked about it so far reveals, for example, that the pharmaceutical industry gets stronger patent protections, delaying cheaper generic versions of drugs. That will be a good deal for Big Pharma but not necessarily for the inhabitants of developing nations who won’t get certain life-saving drugs at a cost they can afford.

Similarly, Dean Baker finds "stronger patent protection is also likely to further disadvantage US workers as increased royalty payments for patents will crowd out exports of goods, reducing manufacturing employment in the United States."

The Trans-Pacific Partnership harms not only healthcare consumers but also American taxpayers, with Reich continuing

The TPP also gives global corporations an international tribunal of private attorneys, outside any nation’s legal system, who can order compensation for any “unjust expropriation” of foreign assets.  

Even better for global companies, the tribunal can order compensation for any lost profits found to result from a nation’s regulations. Philip Morris is using a similar provision against Uruguay (the provision appears in a bilateral trade treaty between Uruguay and Switzerland), claiming that Uruguay’s strong anti-smoking regulations unfairly diminish the company’s profits. 

Baker notes "most of the deal is devoted to creating a uniform and largely business friendly regulatory structure. It creates special courts for businesses to sue governments outside of the normal judicial process."

Growth will slow and purchasing power decline with the higher prices for prescription drugs and other protected products., Baker adds.

It is disappointing and unsettling that the Obama Administration has negotiated with little transparency a deal jeopardizing employment, consumers, taxpayers, and national sovereignty. Joseph Stiglitz points out that the agreement (its parties displayed in map below) is "a race to the bottom" which is "only one aspect of a larger problem: our gross mismanagement of globalization." Of course, most Republicans, disposed to oppose everything Obama, are on board.

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