The U.S. Senate’s passage of Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) legislation on May 22 means that the TPA bill (also known as “Fast Track”) will soon be up for a vote in the House of Representatives. If the House follows suit and approves it, we can be certain that President Obama and his Republican supporters in Congress will move for expedited action on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), both of which, Obama has stated, are top priorities of his administration.
[Reposted from the New American | William Jasper | June 5, 2015]
These twin, trans-oceanic agreements are massive schemes that propose a very radical transformation of the global politico-economic system, with revolutionary integration and convergence of the major Atlantic and Pacific nations. The TPP currently includes 12 Pacific Rim member states (Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam), but is expected to expand to include more nations, including Communist China.
The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) proposes to begin “deep and comprehensive” integration between the 28 member states of the European Union and the United States. Over the course of the past several years, we have published many articles detailing the dangers posed by these (still officially secret) agreements. We are bringing together here, in abbreviated form, 10 of those reasons why every American — whether identifying as Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Independent, Tea Party, liberal, conservative, or constitutionalist — should oppose both of these proposals.
1: Sovereignty will be lost.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership constitute an all-out assault on, and an existential threat to, America’s sovereignty and independence.
Even if all of the glowing economic predictions and rosy job promises of the TPP/TTIP promoters were true — and as we show below, there are many good reasons to disbelieve this prosperity propaganda — would it really be worth sacrificing our national sovereignty and independence for these purported benefits? Would it be worth sacrificing our liberty and our Constitution? Would it be worth subjecting ourselves and our posterity to the rule of international bureaucrats and judges? Those are not idle, speculative questions; they go to the core of what the TPP and TTIP are all about.
Modern Preferential Trade Agreements (PTAs, such as NAFTA, TPP, and TTIP) have become so comprehensive and complex (see below) that they guarantee conflict — both among the nations that are party to the agreement, as well as between private parties and the various nation-state parties. Resolving the conflict means resorting to adjudication. As with NAFTA, the TPP and TTIP create conflict resolution tribunals (courts) that claim the authority to overrule national, state, and local laws, as well as national and state courts and national and state constitutions. Additionally, PTA members often opt to appeal their cases to the World Trade Organization tribunal, which claims global judicial authority. In practice, this amounts, virtually, to legislating globally from the bench, striking down laws and ordering revisions. This is not merely a theoretical threat, it is already happening. Most recently, the WTO appellate tribunal ruled against the United States in a NAFTA suit brought by Canada and Mexico that claimed the U.S. Country Of Origin Labeling (COOL) law, which requires foreign meat to be labeled as such, is an unfair and illegal trade practice. The WTO’s May 18 ruling was the fourth time in three years that the global court had ruled against COOL, even though U.S. courts had ruled that COOL is legal. Faced with WTO penalties and threats of retaliation, the U.S. Congress is now considering repeal of COOL, and American consumers may soon lose the ability to discover if the meat at the grocery store (or the fast food burger/taco joint) is U.S.-raised, or from Mexico, Brazil, or China.
The WTO COOL case is a harbinger of more to come. The TPP and TTIP would exempt foreign corporations from our laws and regulations, placing the resolution of any disputes regarding those matters in the hands of an Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) tribunal or the WTO. Besides unconstitutionally creating another international judicial authority higher than our own courts and legislature, the agreements will put American businesses (particularly small and medium-size businesses geared primarily for our domestic market) at a serious competitive disadvantage. Foreign firms could operate here unburdened by the costly and onerous regulatory shackles that are crippling and destroying American free enterprise.
2: The TPP and TTIP are “living,” “evolving” agreements.
On November 12, 2011, the leaders of the TPP nations endorsed the TPP “Trade Ministers’ Report to Leaders,” which states, inter alia: “We have agreed to develop the TPP as a living agreement.... Therefore, the TPP teams are establishing a structure, institutions, and processes that allow the agreement to evolve.... We envision a continuing joint work program, including new commitments.”
The Congressional Research Service, in a March 20, 2015 study entitled “The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Negotiations and Issues for Congress,” notes: “The TPP has been envisaged as a ‘living agreement,’ one that is both open to new members willing to sign up to its commitments and open to addressing new issues as they evolve.”
Likewise, the TTIP promoters push the “living” document theme. In February of this year, the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) issued a report entitled, “A Fresh Start for TTIP,” which declares, “The [TTIP] negotiators should agree on standard harmonisation where it can be easily achieved … and should set up an inclusive process of regulatory convergence to allow TTIP to become a living agreement which harmonises further standards later on.”
Dr. Alberto Alemanno, the Jean Monnet Professor of EU Law at HEC Paris, writes that “unlike any previous trade arrangement, TTIP is set to become a ‘living agreement’, whose obligations will continuously be added without the need to re-open the initial international treaty nor to modify each others’ institutional frameworks. Thus, should the regulators identify areas for convergence … their agreed commitments … will become legally binding through a sectoral annex.”
The TPP/TTIP architects are drawing from the “success” of the European Union. In the development of the European Union — from its origin as the European Coal and Steel Community to the Common Market to the European Community to, finally, the EU — this subversive mutational process has been referred to as “broadening and deepening.” Broadening (or “widening”) refers to the constant expansion through addition of new member-states; deepening refers to the constant creation of new supranational institutional structures and continuous expansion and usurpation by regional authorities of powers and jurisdiction that previously were exercised by national, state, and local governments. The “living,” “evolving” treaties and agreements of the EU have eviscerated the national sovereignty of the EU member-states and increasingly subjugated them to unaccountable rulers in Brussels under the rubric of “integration,” “harmonization,” “an ever closer union,” “convergence,” “pooled sovereignty,” “interdependence,” and “comprehensive cooperation.”
3: It’s being planned in secret.
The Obama administration has audaciously claimed that the TPP and TTIP processes are “completely transparent,” and President Obama has publicly claimed to be peeved by charges (false charges, he says) that there is any secrecy involved. But the president is talking utter nonsense, if facts mean anything. It is a fact that after more than three years of (secret) negotiations, the administration still has not made the draft texts of either of the agreements available to the public. It is a fact that the only texts the public has had access to are those that have been “illegally” leaked. It is a fact that elected members of the U.S. Congress are only allowed to see the text under severely restricted conditions: They must go to a special room, must leave their cellphones behind, may not make any copies, are monitored while in the room, and before leaving must surrender all notes they have taken. On the other hand, it is also a fact that private “cleared” representatives of, for example, pharmaceutical companies, Hollywood studios, Wall Street, and other corporate interests are given passwords to access the documents online at their leisure: no restrictions, inconvenience, or humiliation for these privileged elites.
This secrecy charge is not merely some invention of right-wing Republicans; it comes also from progressives of Obama’s party: Oregon Senator Ron Wyden, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, Florida Representative Alan Grayson, Connecticut Representative Rosa DeLauro, California Representative George Miller, and many others. If there is nothing to hide, why does the administration insist on shrouding the entire process in secrecy, and then ludicrously pretend they are being totally open and transparent?
4: The TPP and TTIP are not about “free trade.”
Historically, the “free trade” debate has centered on reducing or eliminating tariffs (taxes on imports). But U.S. tariffs are already at historic lows. If the TTIP and TPP were truly about free trade and tariffs, they could be written in a few pages. But they, purportedly, are hundreds of pages long. This is because they deal with what the globalization lobby calls “non-tariff barriers to trade,” which can be just about anything and everything. Here are some of the things the U.S. Trade Representative’s website lists as matters that are covered by the TTIP: “Agricultural Market Access, Competition, Cross-Border Services, Customs and Trade Facilitation, Electronic Commerce and Telecommunications, Energy and Raw Materials, Environment Financial Services, Government Procurement, Intellectual Property Rights, Investment, Labor, … Rules of Origin, Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Measures, Sectoral Annexes/Regulatory Cooperation, Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprises, State-Owned Enterprises, Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT), Textiles, Trade Remedies.”
And remember, as discussed above in number two, since these are “living,” “evolving” agreements, virtually anything may be added for consideration in the future. No less an authority than WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy has remarked on the revolutionary nature of TTIP. “Authorities in Europe and America have given the impression that the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is just another trade agreement,” he said. “In fact, the proposed agreement is a different beast.” Lamy noted that “80 per cent of these negotiations deal with a realm of regulatory convergence.” Lamy, who previously worked as an official in the French government and the EU bureaucracy, knows about convergence, since he helped steer the process in the EU. “Convergence” in EU parlance has come to mean iron-fisted centralized authority running roughshod over national and local laws and customs.
Dr. Joseph Stiglitz, recipient of the Nobel Prize in economics, told the Italian Parliament last year during testimony regarding the TTIP, “This is not a free trade agreement and you should not sign it.” While this writer might disagree with Dr. Stiglitz on a number of other important economic matters, he is certainly correct on this point and his warning should be heeded. According to WikiLeaks, only five chapters of the purported 29 chapters in the TPP deal with matters that are considered traditional trade issues.
5: It is an immigration Trojan Horse.
The Obama administration, infamous for promising to use all executive means possible (whether constitutional or not) to grant amnesty to illegals and to expand legal immigration, is using the TPP/TTIP to replace our immigration system with EU-style mass “migration.” The still-secret agreements contain provisions for eviscerating our border controls, according to insiders who have studied them. “The Trans-Pacific Partnership includes an entire chapter on immigration,” Curtis Ellis, executive director of the American Jobs Alliance, remarked in an April 13, 2015 post for The Hill. “It is a Trojan horse for Obama’s immigration agenda. House members who were ready to defund the Department of Homeland Security to stop President Obama’s executive action on immigration must not give him TPA [Fast Track], which he will use to ensure his immigration actions are locked in when he leaves office.”
Critics point to the fact that President Obama has boasted of greatly expanding the L-1 “temporary guest worker” program to allow corporations to bring hundreds of thousands of workers into the United States while we are suffering extremely high unemployment. Moreover, Obama has already used a pseudo “free trade” agreement with South Korea to expand the L-1 program with that country.
We can take some guidance as to where this could lead from the EU, which the TPP/TTIP architects approvingly cite as their model. Restricted by EU court rulings, EU member states have found it virtually impossible to restrict “migration” and even extremely difficult to control the deluge of “welfare tourism” that is bankrupting many of their social services.
6: It merges America with China/Russia.
One of the overarching arguments repeatedly used by TPP promoters is that we must complete and adopt the TPP or Communist China will pre-empt us with its own trade pact. Likewise, they argue that we must approve the TTIP to keep Russia in check. The short answer to this is that the TPP/TTIP proponents are being totally disingenuous because most of the leading architects of the agreements have been on record for years in favor of admitting both China and Russia to the regional/global trade regimes. China is already a member of the U.S.-created Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and has been integrally involved in the talks aimed at transforming APEC into a Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific (FTAAP). The TPP is a key “steppingstone” in that process, according to the APEC/FTAAP architects. An important source on this matter is the pro-TPP book Understanding the Trans-Pacific Partnership published in 2013 by the Peter G. Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE), one of the premier global think tanks that has played an especially important role in promoting the WTO, IMF, United Nations, and so-called free trade agreements, including NAFTA, CAFTA, TPP, and FTAAP. According to the PIIE book, “The TPP is regarded as an interim arrangement or stepping stone toward a broader, region-wide Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific (FTAAP).... TPP negotiators are … also planning and constructing the trade pact with a view toward future linkages with other APEC members, including and especially China.” (Emphasis added.)
Russia is also an APEC member and could be expected to be included in the FTAAP, which the Obama administration has been quietly developing alongside the TPP. As far back as 2010, the administration posted on the White House website an APEC press release of November 13, 2010 announcing: “Based on the results of this work, we have agreed that now is the time for APEC to translate FTAAP from an aspirational to a more concrete vision. To that end, we instruct APEC to take concrete steps toward realization of an FTAAP, which is a major instrument to further APEC’s Regional Economic Integration (REI) agenda.” Once that is achieved, both China and Russia will likely be full FTAAP members.
7: Could the TPP/TTIP be used to foist gun control on Americans?
This is not an “out there” question; it should be a genuine concern of all who treasure the Second Amendment. Constitutional champion Michael Hammond, the longtime executive director of the Senate Steering Committee, has warned that “there is ample time to insert firearms import bans (with the force of statutory law)” into the TPP and/or TTIP. “Barack Obama has been rabid in his zeal to destroy the Second Amendment community,” Hammond notes. “Over and over again, he has experimented with a wide variety of schemes to ban guns by regulatory fiat: eliminating credit, banning ammunition, compiling a gun registry, encouraging state bans, reclassifying common guns, banning the import of guns, and so forth. Hammond, who is now general counsel for the Gun Owners of America, notes that despite Obama’s notorious anti-gun record, the Republican “leadership” in Congress “didn’t see fit to even purport to prohibit the Obama administration from using a trade agreement to impose a statutory gun import ban.”
8: The jobs and prosperity myth
As with NAFTA and every other pseudo-free trade agreement, there are many politicians, lobbyists, and think tanks making pie-in-the-sky claims that TPP and TTIP will usher in new prosperity and a wave of good-paying jobs. We’ve been there before. In 1993, the Peterson Institute for International Economics released its influential study, “NAFTA: An Assessment,” which predicted that “with NAFTA, U.S. exports to Mexico will continue to outstrip Mexican exports to the United States, leading to a U.S. trade surplus with Mexico of about $7 (billion) to $9 billion annually by 1995.” It also predicted that the U.S. trade surplus with Mexico would increase to $12 billion annually between 2000 and 2010. The actual result was quite different.
In 1993, the year before NAFTA went into effect, the United States had a $1.66 billion trade surplus with Mexico; by 1995, the first year after NAFTA had entered into force, that changed to a $15.8 billion deficit. By 2000, that annual deficit had soared to $24.5 billion, and by 2007 it hit $74.7 billion. For 2014, our trade deficit with Mexico dipped to only $53.8 billion. In 1993, the year before NAFTA, we imported around 225,000 cars and trucks from Mexico. By 2005, our imports of Mexican-made vehicles had tripled to 700,000 vehicles annually, and in 2012, Mexico’s export of vehicles to the United States surpassed 1.4 million. Chrysler, Ford, and GM transferred major production facilities (and jobs) from the United States to Mexico. Our trade deficits with Canada have followed a similar path since adoption of NAFTA.
The PIIE authors and other pseudo-free trade propagandists had cherry-picked data and simply invented statistics to fraudulently sell their product: NAFTA. If they were car salesmen, they would have gone to jail for fraud and misrepresentation. Instead, they are back doing the same thing, concocting rosy statistics to sell the TPP and TTIP.
9: The TPP and TTIP are corporatist schemes.
Unfortunately, some of the loudest critics on this score are notorious leftists who regularly parade against capitalism. Republican leaders have been able to use that fact as a reason to disregard the compelling evidence that these criticisms of TPP/TTIP are solidly based. First of all, it is important to note that in most cases the big, international mega-corporations long ago ceased to consider themselves American companies and also long ago ceased to favor free enterprise capitalism: They are corporate welfare drones, the masters of government bailouts, government loans, government subsidies, government contracts. They are little different from the giant State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) or “private” corporations owned by communist princelings and commissars in China and Russia.
This is especially evident in the lineup of globalist corporations behind the TPP/TTIP: Goldman Sachs, Boeing, Dow Chemical, Unilever, Chevron, Caterpillar, UPS, Walmart, Chase, Citi — and a bevy of Big Business coalitions: Global Business Dialogue, Business Roundtable, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Transatlantic Policy Network, Atlantic Council, and more. These are “crony capitalists,” not free enterprise capitalists; they prefer to use the power of government rather than innovation, risk, and excellence to prosper. Many of these corporations and associations have their representatives working directly with the TPP/TTIP negotiators, and they are the “cleared” elites that get privileged access to the documents you and I don’t get to see, and our elected representatives only access under extreme controls.
10: The TPP and TTIP are regional transitions in the push toward a world government.
Unquestionably, one of the most important organizations pushing the TPP and TTIP is the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations, the uber-think tank that has been promoting schemes for world government for nearly a century. In a 2006 op-ed entitled “State sovereignty must be altered in globalized era,” CFR President Richard Haass declared that we must “rethink” and “redefine” sovereignty because “new mechanisms are needed for regional and global governance” and “states must be prepared to cede some sovereignty to world bodies.” Due to globalization, said Haass, “sovereignty is not only becoming weaker in reality, but … it needs to become weaker.” According to the CFR chief, we must choose between “an international system of either world government or anarchy.”
The CFR fully supports the trans-oceanic political and economic “integration” and “convergence” plans of the TPP and TTIP. It works closely with the Transatlantic Policy Network (TPN), which says its mission is “to promote and assist the convergence of EU/US Government policies.” The TPN’s 1995 “Partnership Project” called for combining NATO with a merged EU-U.S. “in a single political framework by early in the next century.” In its 2008 report Completing the Transatlantic Market, the TPN went further, revealing that “the process of creating a Transatlantic Market will be an integral step in the evolution toward an eventual Transatlantic Partnership Agreement embracing the economic, political, and strategic totality of the EU-US relationship.” “Totality” — did you catch that?
This is what former French Premier Edouard Balladur was aiming at with his 2007 book entitled A Union of the West, which received the expected send-off at the New York Times and other “enlightened” voices of the globalist media choir. According to Balladur the new partnership must be “a new alliance between Europe and America, and even more — a true union.” And that is what the TPP/TTIP schemers are truly attempting to put over.