Let’s start by defining terms. Trade Promotion Authority – commonly called “Fast Track” – is granted by Congress to the President of the United States so the President or White House officials can negotiate trade agreements anywhere in the world and Congress only gets a yes or no vote. That means trade deals can be fast tracked through the legislative process and no matter how good or bad the deals, there are no changes and no amendments, only the pressure of yes or no votes. The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a trade deal now being negotiated among the United States and 11 other nations that border the Pacific Ocean. It is one of several to be fast tracked if Congress passes Trade Promotion Authority.
Fast tracked or not, the Trans-Pacific Partnership is a horrible deal for the American public now and far into the future. I have 3 concerns: 1) excessive secrecy; 2) inadequate standards; and 3) how trade deals allow corporations to dominate national interests. Specifically:
1) Excessive Secrecy: At a time when trust in government is at an all-time low, open and honest dialog with the American public about major government policies would be a logical step to help re-build trust. Instead, the excessive secrecy and closed door negotiations regarding trade deals prevents We the People from providing input to a significant set of American policies. Even duly elected lawmakers have complained about secret reading rooms where they are not even allowed to take notes on drafts of these trade deals.
Recently leaked documents also show excessive secrecy about the proposed Trade in Services Agreement among the United States, the European Union and 23 other nations. This deal would mean that every service provided by any corporation that is in any way related to an international agreement – from telecommunications and financing to transportation and healthcare – would be protected and could be regulated by corporations and investors rather than nations and their citizens. The leaked documents show the intention to keep the services agreement secret for five years after passage!..
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