This week more information has come to light about the very secretive Free Trade deal that the Obama Administration is trying to string together with at least eight other Pacific nations. The deal has very little to do with free trade and almost everything to do with corporate power. Zach Carter writing for the Huffington Post puts the Free Trade deal best:
"Under the agreement currently being advocated by the Obama administration, American corporations would continue to be subject to domestic laws and regulations on the environment, banking and other issues. But foreign corporations operating within the U.S. would be permitted to appeal key American legal or regulatory rulings to an international tribunal. That international tribunal would be granted the power to overrule American law and impose trade sanctions on the United States for failing to abide by its rulings."
If that is not clear enough let me try to explain it a little better. The Obama Administration by signing this trade deal would be allowing a international tribunal to decide if foreign corporations can overrule American law, then if the United States fails to follow the tribunals rules; trade sanctions could thus be thrust upon the US.
A international panel of men paid by corporations would be ruling if foreign corporations have the ability to bypass American laws and regulation. If a non American Pacific Corporation wants to pollute in the Mississippi River and the International tribunal agrees that American’s pollution laws are too harsh well that’s just too bad for the residents of Mississippi. The corporation can simply lobby and spend endless sums of money to influence the international tribunal members to favor the corporations side.
Anyone can now read the entire Trans Pacific Partnership document by clicking here if you care to do so. It was officially leaked by House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.). Issa reportedly made the move and leaked the documents in order to try and pressure President Obama to give up some of the major trade deal secrets that his administration has been trying to hide. Everything from “Buy American" contracting rules to prescription drug prices to internet freedom is included in the TPP as reported on my Zach Carter.
It is also concerning to read that even Democratic Senator Wyden, chairmen of the trade committee in the Senate was being kept in the dark and not given access to the now leaked trade documents. David Dayen wrote about this over at firedoglake saying:
"Sen. Ron Wyden, the chair of a key Senate subcommittee on international trade, was denied access by the Office of US Trade Representative to any of the draft documents of the TPP. Eventually, after introducing legislation to try and force openness on the process, Wyden did gain access, but his staff did not, including those with key insight on trade"
Also this last quote from Senator Wyden’s spokeswoman Jennifer Hoelzer speaks volumes. She summed it up by saying:
"I would point out how insulting it is for them to argue that members of Congress are to personally go over to USTR to view the trade documents,” Hoelzer said. “An adviser at Halliburton or the MPAA is given a password that allows him or her to go on the USTR website and view the TPP agreement anytime he or she wants."
"The general public and most nonprofit organizations have no access to the documents, although a number of corporate officials can see them."
It is all rather perplexing to me why the Obama Administration would try and keep these trade documents such a secret or why the current administration would even draft up such unpopular trade deals. It leaves one questioning the true motives of the people in power in Washington DC.