The U.S. Trade Representative — the federal agency responsible for negotiating trade treaties — has said that the details of the Trans Pacific Partnership are classified due to “national security”.
A Congressman who has seen the text of the treaty says:
There is no national security purpose in keeping this text secret … this agreement hands the sovereignty of our country over to corporate interests.
It will increase the cost of borrowing, make prescription drugs more expensive, destroy privacy, harm food safety, and — yes – literally act to destroy the sovereignty of the U.S. and the other nations which sign the bill.
To give an idea of what would happen to American law if TPP passes, just look at Equador …
It’s courts awarded billions against Chevron for trashing huge swaths of rainforest. But then a private arbitration panel simply ignored the country’s court system.
William Pesek writes at Bloomberg:
The Big Brother-like secrecy enshrouding the treaty on the U.S. side [is stunning.]
WikiLeaks did what Barack Obama‘s White House refuses to: share portions of the document with the public. The draft of the intellectual-property rights chapter by Julian Assange‘s outfit validated the worst fears – that TPP is a corporatist power grab. Rather than heed the outcry, the U.S. doubled down on secrecy, refusing to disclose more details.
You know you have a transparency problem when citizens of a democracy need to rely on WikiLeaks for details on changes to laws on Internet use, labor, environmental and food-safety standards, and the cost and availability of drugs. It’s worth considering something Google Inc. Chief Executive Officer Eric Schmidt told CNBC in December 2009: “If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.” So why is the Obama administration behaving as if it runs a closed Communist Party state? The answer can only be, To circumvent the legislative process.
Last month, 151 House Democrats, members of Obama’s own party, sent a letter to the White House stating their opposition to granting him fast-track authority to negotiate trade agreements, citing a lack of congressional consultation.
What would America’s founders make of this process?
Asians should say no to a trade deal that’s as democratic and transparent as a one-party state.