Many corporations are looking for ways reduce labor costs and undercut worker power in the United States and throughout the world. The TPP would grant corporations easier access to labor markets in countries such as Vietnam, where the average minimum wage is just a third of what it is in China. Whether or not corporations decide to move their production to these lower-paid countries, the threat of moving there (or of being undercut by competitors who have already done so) can be used to suppress employee compensation virtually anywhere.
For years, the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations have taken place behind closed doors. Since negotiations began in 2008, none of the negotiating documents have been officially released for public review (although some have been leaked).
In the United States, approximately 600 corporate lobbyists have been named as official advisors, granting them steady access to the negotiating texts, as well as the negotiators. This includes representatives of companies like Walmart, Cargill and Chevron.
Most civic groups, journalists and those whose lives will be affected by the negotiators’ decisions have no right to see the texts until the negotiations have concluded — at which point, it is more-or-less impossible to change them. An international “Release the Texts” campaign has, thus far, not been answered.
Fast Track “trade promotion authority” is a Nixon-era trade negotiating and approval process that strips power to influence the terms of trade agreements away from the public and our elected representatives in Congress, while amplifying the influence of the U.S. Trade Representative and large corporate interest groups. Fast Track would allow the TPP and other trade agreements to be signed before the public sees any proposed texts and then rushed through Congress, bypassing ordinary Congressional review, amendment and debate procedures.
Stopping Fast Track is the absolute best way for Americans to ensure that we aren’t saddled with a major corporate power grab. Fast Track expired in 2007 and would need to be passed into law again by a majority vote of the U.S. Congress in order for the TPP to be approved under Fast Track processes. Over 400 U.S. organizations, together representing more than 15 million Americans, have already urged Congress to oppose Fast Track for the TPP. Members of Congress must now hear opposition to Fast Track directly from their constituents.
For more information, go to www.citizenstrade.org .