7/22/2013 TruthToTell- TRANS-PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP: Is Free Trade Fair?

 

Why in the world is TruthToTell taking on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement trade pact now in negotiation half the globe away? Usually, TTT is less concerned with subjects like the TPP than we are teepees and HERCs and the local NAACP, among the many state, local and regional issues confronting our listeners and viewers.

The primary reason is that local and regional transnational corporations – like3M, Cargill, ADM, Alliant Tech, the now ubiquitous Target (which has its name on practically every publicly owned facility and event in Minnesota) and who knows what others are the mute participants in this trade organization that has the potential for preempting and overriding all US and local laws and regulations theoretically ion business to protect consumers, workers and the public interest – think FTCFCCEPAMPCACommerceDNR (it ain’t all fish and wildlife there).

The other is that the likes of Congressman Keith Ellison, the Minnesota Fair Trade Coalition and MN2020, the think tank often devoted to economic development are zeroing in on this issue.

We say “mute,” because for all the push by the US Trade Representative to recruit these Minnesota corporations, not only will any of them not say anything in their own defense for becoming a part of this effort to solidify laws, rules, regulations like a separate government over our governments, the entire negotiating process looks to be under way entirely in secret. The US government Trade Representative site says much but little in the way of clarity emerges on the effects of this treaty. It does say this:

“After 18 rounds (the 18th is under way now-Ed.), the 11countries have made significant progress and the negotiations are on an accelerated track toward conclusion of an ambitious, comprehensive agreement in the 2013 time frameenvisioned by President Obama and the Leaders of the ten other TPP countries.” (emboldening and updating mine. )

These threats appear real because previous trade pacts operating elsewhere on the planet – NAFTAWTO and the like – with the all-too willing sanction of the United States government applied and leveraged to the hilt in the name of “free” trade have seen the very-feared results realized – in spades: our-sourcing of labor and the movement of entire companies and their manufacturing and service sectors overseas or, certainly across the borders.

“Free trade” has become a four-letter phrase among people who have every reason to believe the same issues will befall people in the signatory countries, including the US: Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam — but it is also specifically intended as a “docking agreement” that other Pacific Rim countries would join over time, with Japan, Korea, China and others already expressing some interest. (We’ll seek a definition of “docking agreement” from our guests.)

“Free” Traders have been at odds for many years with “Fair” Trade advocates.Lately, articles and opinion pieces have flooded the Internet, but we have in our guests some very serious reasons why Minnesotans and Twin Citians should be watchful and concerned about the progress of whatever information can be gleaned, probably from leaks – engineered or not.

We want to know – we want you to know – what worries and angers many of our leaders and commentators about this development – and the secrecy keeping it veiled from public view.

TTT’s ANDY DRISCOLL and MICHELLE ALIMORADI query the people willing to step forward and discuss the issue – and that does NOT include any of the companies whose perspectives we sought for this show but who all refused. Target, 3M and Cargill were among those contacted.

Playlist Tracks: 
REP KEITH ELLISON - (D-MN) – 5th District – Member, House Financial Services Committee; Co-Chair, Congressional Progressive Caucus; Founder, Congressional Consumer Justice Caucus
JOSH WISE - Executive Director, Minnesota Fair Trade Coalition
STEVE FLETCHER - Fellow and Director of Grassroots Strategy, Minnesota2020; founding Executive Director of MN Neighborhoods Organizing for Change