Activists Announce Goal of 1,000 North American Groups against “NAFTA Expansion”
Blaine, Wash. — Activists from Canada, Mexico and the United States are unveiling a new tri-national unity statement opposing the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) during a cross-border organizing summit on the U.S./Canada border on Saturday. On the eve of the 15th major round of TPP negotiations, representatives of the labor, environmental, indigenous, family farm, democracy and other social justice movements will announce a goal of collecting 1,000 organizational signatures on the statement from throughout North America prior to the start of the next TPP round, widely believed to take place in March 2013.
“The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a corporate rights deal, which threatens workers, farmers, indigenous communities and our planet,” said Kristen Beifus, director of the Washington Fair Trade Coalition, one of the summit’s main organizers. “United people’s movements have defeated corporate-power grabs like the TPP before, and we plan to do it again this time around.”
According to the “North American Unity Statement Opposing NAFTA Expansion through the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP),” the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has caused economic, environmental and cultural damage throughout the continent and the TPP will expand NAFTA-style trade and investment provisions throughout the Pacific Rim unless organizations mobilize to prevent that.
“It’s impossible to overstate how devastating NAFTA has been to working people and family farmers over the past twenty years,” said Manuel Perez Rocha, of the Mexican Action Network on Free Trade and associate fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C. “Leaked documents suggest the TPP would actually go beyond NAFTA in the powers it hands to transnational corporations. Thankfully, a transnational movement is rising to stop it and our tri-national network is a part of it.”
“We’re calling on social justice organizations throughout Canada, Mexico and the Unites States to sign onto the unity statement, first, in recognition of the threat the TPP poses to their members and, second, in recognition that it will take all of us coming together across geographic and issue-area borders in order to win,” said Stuart Trew, trade campaigner for the Council of Canadians.
Groups can sign onto the statement at http://tinyurl.com/unitystatement.
The statement as a whole reads as follows:
North American Unity Statement Opposing NAFTA Expansion through the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)*
The nearly two decades of economic, environmental and cultural damage wrought by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), while by no means experienced equally, have been highly detrimental to the majority of people across the North American region.
As a direct result of NAFTA, there are fewer good jobs, more struggling family farms, less stable food systems, and everyday consumer safety measures are weaker and social inequality grows. The pact’s intellectual property rules continue to undermine access to affordable medicine, while its financial service provisions have undermined banking regulations. NAFTA fueled even more the conditions that precipitated an economic emigration crisis and exacerbated a false drug war, leading to mass-scale human rights abuses where tens of thousands of citizens have been the victims. It has degraded the earth and its ecosystems in numerous ways, including from mining and other resource extraction projects, and has had pronounced effects on indigenous peoples’ sovereignty. Subsequent trade agreements have similarly propelled a race to the bottom in wages, labor rights and environmental protection, as well as deregulation and privatization, contributing to the worldwide financial and climate crises.
Halting further damage should be a shared priority of our peoples. Instead, because NAFTA has simultaneously redirected wealth and power to elites in each of the countries involved, the governments of Canada, Mexico and the United States, among others, are now seeking to expand NAFTA’s trade and investment rules throughout the Pacific Rim in the form of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). In fact, leaked documents suggest that the TPP could very well go beyond NAFTA in the new powers and rights it hands to transnational corporations, including an expansion of NAFTA’s infamous investor-state dispute process, by which international investors can challenge public interest laws, regulations and even court decisions that could threaten their expectation of profits through unaccountable tribunals that circumvent and violate domestic judicial systems.
The world cannot afford this NAFTA expansion package. Instead, we need policies that help build a more just and sustainable global economy, including those that respect and promote fundamental labor rights, including equal rights for migrant workers; the creation of high-wage, high-benefit jobs; environmental protection; food sovereignty; financial market stability; food and product safety; access to quality healthcare; and local democracy.
Together, we call on our sisters and brothers throughout North America and beyond to educate their communities about the TPP and to engage on it now, lest we all have even greater harms forced upon us and the people of many other countries.
* The Trans-Pacific Partnership is currently under negotiation between Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam. It is being written as a “docking agreement” that would allow other countries to join over time, but without them able to make changes to existing text (a pre-condition that Canada and Mexico agreed to).