The story of the past week in terms of the Trans Pacific Partnership TPP agreement was not Prime Minister John Keys visit to the White House.The more startling news is that our Government, with almost 50 other countries, is negotiating another secret deal in the shadows of the World Trade Organisation. They are calling to negotiate a Trade in Services Agreement Tisa.It is part of a troika: along with the TPP and the deal the US is negotiating with the European Union, it aims to create a new set of global rules that are designed exclusively to serve commercial interests.This is no exaggeration. Last week US corporates held a launch for what they call Team Tisa. The co-chairs are Citigroup, Liberty Mutual, IBM, MetLife, UPS and Walmart. Leading members of Congress and the US Trade Representative were invited to speak.If we thought the TPP was secretive – background documents remain secret for four years after any deal is done – Tisa proponents want to keep their documents secret for five years.They aim to create an unrestricted global market for services, just as TPP is aimed at the Asia-Pacific. That means locking open the door to foreign corporations that dominate the worlds media, IT, finance, tourism, transport, healthcare, education sectors and more.They also want to make light-handed regulation the global norm. A standstill rule aims to freeze the existing level of regulation as the new bottom line.What Wikileaks posted was the draft chapter on financial services. We can assume it will be very similar to the TPPs financial services chapter.This is especially scary, because it aims to extend the model of liberalised and deregulated financial markets that brought us the global financial crisis.
Those at the top have never done better,” President Obama ruefully acknowledged in his January 28 State of the Union speech. “But average wages have barely budged. Inequality has deepened.”
Yet, moments later, Obama heartily endorsed the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which as drafted directly reflects the demands of “those at the top” and would, if passed, severely intensify the very inequality spotlighted by the president. The TPP would provide transnational corporations with easier access to cheap labor in Pacific Rim nations and new power to trump public-interest protections—on labor, food safety, drug prices, financial regulation, domestic procurement laws, and a host of others—established over the last century by democratic governments. The nations currently negotiating the TPP—which together comprise nearly 40%of the world economy—include the United States, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam. Among them, Malaysia, Brunei, Mexico, Singapore, and Vietnam, are all notorious violators of labor rights The TPP’s labor provisions are far too weak to begin uplifting wages, conditions, and rights for workers in these nations.
As with NAFTA, the TPP will benefit U.S. companies relocating jobs to low-wage, high-repression nations, argues economist Mark Weisbrot, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR). This would also exert strong downward pressures on the pay of U.S. workers, “Most U.S. workers are likely to lose out from the TPP,” Weisbrot says.