At a secret meeting in the US this week representatives from governments in the Asia-Pacific region will be seeking to finalize the details of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). The TPP threatens to be the mother of all trade deals encompassing, if it comes to fruition, more than 40 percent of the world’s GDP. Led by the United States, it is being negotiated in secret by the 1 Percent and threatens to encroach on the rights and quality of life of the 99 Percent by ways and means unprecedented.
The TPP and its transatlantic equivalent, the TTIP, epitomize the exploitative psychology and methods of the corporatocracy which the grassroots struggles of our time are so desperate to resist. And yet, remarkably, resistance is minimal with the public being almost entirely ignorant of the TPP and activists struggling to communicate their concerns. If not for the extended time it is taking for jockeying vested interests to negotiate the minutia of the deal, the TPP may well have been finalized with hardly a scintilla of dissent.
November 8 saw an international day of action against the TPP with activists claiming an estimated 10,000 people rallied across New Zealand with relatively much smaller numbers in Australia, Malaysia, Japan, and the United States. The #TPPANoWay hashtag trended number two for the day on Twitter.
So, apart from New Zealand, why is the rest of the world so behind?
To discuss this issue we spoke with Kiwi TPP activist, lawyer, and new ImportantCool associate Edward Miller.
In Australia activists are busy on many different fronts challenging the regressive policies of the Abbott government. Apart from the Australian Fair Trade Investment Network (AFTINET) who are working hard to inform and agitate, there is only pocketed resistance to the TPP from relatively disparate groups and individuals.
We explored the issue of resistance in Australia with prominent Melbourne based activist Samantha Castro who was arrested in 2011 for protesting against the TPP and recently has been in court fighting charges.
It is no secret that on many fronts this is a critical juncture for life on this planet. Meaningful resistance to the TPP and the TTIP will be a significant factor in what the future looks like.
Climate change, the environment, wealth equality, internet freedom, worker’s rights, access to health care, and even food labeling and safety are all under threat from this so-called “free trade agreement”.
Renowned US intellectual and dissident Professor Noam Chomsky has said of the Trans Pacific Partnership: “It’s called free trade, but that’s just a joke, these are extreme, highly protectionist measures designed to undermine freedom of trade. In fact, much of what’s leaked about the TPP indicates that it’s not about trade at all, it’s about investor rights.”
With the details being treated as classified information by the Obama administration and with what little is known of the TPP being thanks to leaks published by Wikileaks, campaigners around the world are hard pressed to inform and engage the wider public. Even the majority of parliamentarians, both within and outside of the US, have no access to the negotiation texts. Australian Senator Bill Heffernan, member of the incumbent conservative government, said of the TPP:
“I mean, it’s all shrouded in bloody, in secrecy; I mean I would like to know what the details are. I’ve asked the various players and I’ve been told ‘Bill, it’s all, it’s all in…you know, we can’t tell you because it’s all sort of commercial-in-confidence.’ You know, I just think we deserve to know the details of these things.”
ImportantCool looks forward to keeping our readers informed on this critical issue as we continue to bring our analysis and updates from the voices of activists and other experts from around the world.
If you wish to support our work, you can become a patron of ImportantCool for as little as $5 per month and earn yourself a say in the operations of this crowd-funded media collective.