The TPP Lives On

One of the first things President Trump did was pull out of the TPP.
So that's that, right? Not so fast.

The other 11 nations moved ahead with the now renamed Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).
More importantly to you and me, Trump is doing what Obama flat-out refused to do - renegotiate NAFTA. It's here where you hear echoes of the TPP.

The damaging TPP chapter on intellectual property has been introduced, which would increase prices on medications by lengthening patent exclusivity, and aggressively enforce copyright of music and movie content. (If this is enacted, borrowing a friend’s CD could be a trade violation.) The tech industry is trying to maintain its dominance by writing into NAFTA that virtually no limits can be placed on data, whether for privacy or security reasons. And the financial-services industry wants to force deregulation by setting limits on rules through the agreement.

Some of the worst elements of the TPP are about to be incorporated into a renegotiated NAFTA.
Another part of NAFTA that people want renegotiated is for stronger labor and environmental standards.

Now, the Trump administration doesn’t support stronger labor and environmental standards in the United States, let alone in a trade agreement. So far, Lighthizer has only proposed the language from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which is wholly inadequate.

So more of TPP in NAFTA, which doesn't really change anything.

However, before you get all depressed, there is a couple pieces of good news.

This includes a way for countries to opt out of the destructive investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) scheme, where companies can sue governments for lost expected profits from changed regulations. The US proposal wouldn’t eliminate ISDS, but would let countries leave the system, and would throw out the worst aspects of the process.

It's only a half-step in the right direction, but it's a start.
The second piece of good news is that the TPP language has strong opponents - Silicon Valley.

The U.S. wants to limit allowances for online use of copyrighted material in Nafta, according to two people familiar with the U.S. proposal. That could upset companies like Google and Facebook, which would see that as less supportive of online platforms than existing U.S. law.

The third piece of good news is that the re-negotiations aren't going well, and NAFTA just might collapse in the process.
Some are giving it a 50-50 chance.

The Democrats appear divided over the NAFTA talks. Bernie Sanders is pushing Trump to be firm in the negotiations.

“When Donald Trump campaigned for president, he promised that he was going to stop corporations from shifting American jobs to Mexico,” Sanders said Wednesday at a rally for the #ReplaceNafta movement in Washington. “For once in your life, keep your promises.”

In related news, Trump is also pushing to re-negotiate KORUS, the free trade agreement between the U.S. and South Korea.

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not dead yet

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday called on the US and European Union to resume talks on a free trade agreement after the Trump administration gave the clearest signal yet that it was willing relaunch negotiations on such an accord.

Speaking at an economic symposium hosted by her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party in Berlin, Merkel told lawmakers that "we should resume work on a trade agreement between the EU and the United States," adding that "the multitude of problems that arise ... can only be dealt with in structured trade negotiations with each other."

The chancellor's comments came just after Wilbur Ross, the US commerce secretary, addressed the audience of delegates via video-link, telling them US President Donald Trump was receptive to talks on what is known on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) to resume.

on steroids

Campaign group Global Justice Now has warned there are just months to stop ‘TTIP on steroids’ as the latest round of trade talks between the United States and United Kingdom governments begins in London.

While any trade deal resulting from the talks would not come into effect until after Brexit, the campaigners warn that the new Trade Bill, tabled last week, will give the UK government sweeping powers to agree an eventual deal with the Trump administration without MPs having the power to stop it. They fear the UK’s weaker bargaining position after Brexit will lead to an even worse deal on crucial issues like food standards, private access to public services, and corporate courts than that offered by TTIP, the EU-US trade deal that was scuppered last year after mass opposition across Europe.

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divineorder's picture


Viva Mexico!

Myth that NAFTA has helped Mexicans

Building Institutions is an Uphill Battle

These investments have hardly made a dent in Mexico’s fortunes. In fact, the poverty rate in Mexico has been increasing, even as poverty has declined in much of the rest of Latin America. The vast majority of Mexicans face a daily struggle to survive as they cope with a government that is often either absent or corrupt, high levels of common and organized crime, and a chronic lack of formal employment opportunities.

Over the years, the U.S. government has sent hundreds of millions of dollars to Mexico in the name of judicial reform but to little real effect. Mexico has shiny new judicial codes, but many prosecutors and judges are either employees or victims of organized crime. If the U.S. can’t help Mexico address its endemic corruption, it will only experience more violence and migration at the border. And a failing Mexico will only encourage populism in its worst form. The focus should be on building institutions, not walls.

This article is part of a three-part series on NAFTA. You can see the other two articles here:
Canadian Free Trade Network Mitigates a NAFTA Demise
NAFTA: Scenarios for a Trade Deal in Crisis

As today’s negotiators work toward NAFTA 2.0, they should begin paying attention to how the trade agreement will affect political stability and social development, just as the European Union did when it engaged with the former satellites of the Soviet Union. The U.S. and Canada should require Mexico to build up its institutions in exchange for market access, just as the EU required Bulgaria and Romania to build up its institutions before those countries could enjoy the fruits of accession.

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A truth of the nuclear age/climate change: we can no longer have endless war and survive on this planet. Oh sh*t.

@divineorder Although neo-liberalism is intellectually discredited, the institutions that drive it are very much still in place and it is very much alive. To kill it we will have to drive a stake in its heart, cut off its head, shoot it in the ass with a silver bullet, burn it and fire its ashes into the sun. If there is anything we on the left should have learned is that we should ever be vigilant and our celebrations brief.

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divineorder's picture

@Roy Blakeley @Roy Blakeley

In the same way, the law and economics movement has hurt workers. For example, Banks and other large corporations put arbitration clauses in all their contracts, and clauses that bar class actions, and courts routinely uphold these clauses, because it’s so efficient. That means that when you get cheated in one of Wells Fargo’s schemes, you have to arbitrate, and class actions are barred.

So far, the legacy political parties and the elites have been able to deflect the anger that is slowly building up in our society as frustration turns into pain. It’s dawning on all of us that the way we treat our people is disgusting, whether it’s cops killing unarmed Black people, sexual predators attacking women, unfair pay for people of color, massive corruption, lawsuits with utterly unjust results; the list is endless.

My prediction of the slow death of neoliberalism is based on my profound hope that people are realizing that neoliberalism is a nightmarish theory, the spell will be broken, and people will demand to be treated like human beings with natural rights that must be the central focus of social organization.

4 users have voted.

A truth of the nuclear age/climate change: we can no longer have endless war and survive on this planet. Oh sh*t.