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Panview Debate Column: TPP is lose-lose, except for big businesses and Japan

Editor: Li Kun 丨CCTV.com

10-09-2015 18:04 BJT

Editor picks: We invite experts to debate controversial issues, so long as they cite factual information and refrain from making vulgar comments.

By Tom McGregor, CNTV Commentator

CNN (Cable News Network) has hailed the recent signatory agreement of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) as the "biggest regional free trade deal in history," marking the most pivotal milestone for US President Barack Obama’s legacy. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has also boasted of a "new trade era of hope."

Well of course conglomerates based in the United States and Japan are celebrating, since they would rake in enormous profits at the expense of their smaller competitors in the trading block of countries that also include: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

The leading US presidential candidate for the Republican Party Donald Trump, a successful real estate developer, has warned American voters of the dangers of the TPP. "The only entities to benefit from the trade deal are other countries ... Japan and big corporations," Trump told Breitbart News.

Big business bullies small business

"The small business operators, farmers, manufacturers and others will again be burdened with unfair trade practices, currency manipulation, exploitation of cheap labor, and onerous tax code," Trump added. "If crony capitalism were not bad enough, then sticking it to the unions, small business ... Seems to be the new bloodsport in the D.C. Beltway."

Small business should dread an evil omen on the horizon, because the TPP could bankrupt them through costly trade, tax and legal mechanisms. Hence, a corporate monopolist system would inevitably emerge.

Meanwhile, Tokyo has flagrantly and intentionally devalued its Yen currency in recent years to boost exports for Japanese corporations. Nevertheless, TPP could not enforce any punitive measures against currency manipulators in the trading block.

Obama is calling for legislative approval, despite his adamant refusal to let most members of U.S. Congress read the trade deal in its entirety. Ironically, the US President has allowed 500 corporate lobbyists in Washington to have full-access to viewing rights to all sensitive documents related to TPP, as reported by Citizen.org.

Many are asking: What is Wall Street hiding from Main Street?

TPP Tribunals over-rule domestic courts

The Washington Post reports that TPP would implement an Investor-trade dispute settlement (ITDS) that all signatory countries must comply with. Corporations can sue foreign governments through its subsidiaries in so-called TPP Tribunals. Yet, foreign governments are not permitted to launch counter-suits in return.

Legal challenges would be decided by arbitrators, whereas a foreign investor appoints an arbitrator, the host state assigns an arbitrator and the TPP Tribunal would issue a judgment that cannot be overturned by local judges.

For instance, a high-polluting Japanese company can sue a developing nation if its government enacts tougher environmental protection laws. The company could claim a loss of "expected future profits" and demand millions of US dollars in compensation from local taxpayers.

Big Pharma cashes in

TPP Tribunals appear to be the worst feature, but that's wrong. The trade deal places millions of poor people's lives at risk in developing countries in order to protect the substantial profit margins of US and Japan-based pharmaceuticals. All signatory members must abide by stringent US patent and copyright laws, no exceptions allowed.

"TPP enforces patent-related obligations in countries that never had them before, such as Peru, Vietnam, Malaysia and Mexico," Judd Ruis Sanjuan, legal policy adviser for the non-profit Doctors Without Borders, told CounterPunch news. "They'll face higher prices for longer periods of time."

Brand-name pharmaceutical manufacturers will receive more extensive patent protections to prevent cheaper generic drugs from entering the market. Accordingly, more than 40,000 HIV/AIDS patients in Vietnam would lose access to affordable life-saving drugs.

Say no to TPP; say yes to economic sovereignty

Supporters of TPP claim that the trade deal would benefit consumers with the elimination of tariffs. However, Tokyo has made no real pledge to dismantle its protectionism measures. Furthermore, TPP Tribunals would over-rule national judicial sovereignty to protect big business profits.

Consequently, the trade deal is a win-win for Wall Street and Tokyo, but a lose-lose for all others.




( The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Panview or CCTV.com. )



Panview offers a new window of understanding the world as well as China through the views, opinions, and analysis of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.

Panview offers an alternative angle on China and the rest of the world through the analyses and opinions of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.

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