“NAFTA on steroids.” That’s how the giant new Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) is being described by environmental and democracy movements throughout the Asia-Pacific. When completed (possibly by the end of 2013), the TPP will be arguably as significant and dangerous a part of the new Pacific Pivot strategies, as the United States’ already accelerated military expansion and occupation of the region.The U.S. sees mega free-trade agreements as crucial to its larger goal of encircling and containing the economic growth of China in the region, and controlling the vast resources of the Asia-Pacific region.
Alarmingly, these agreements are being written without public oversight or participation by the U.S. Congress, or among other nations’ governing bodies. The contents are held as top secret from the publics and legislatures, and will be voted on only via “Fast Track” processes, at the very end of negotiations — “yes” or “no” with no changes allowed. Democracy has no place in this process.
The TPP agreement, involves twelve countries: the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore, Chile, Mexico, Peru, Vietnam, plus, possibly, South Korea. Once concluded, TPP will dominate most economic options for all Pacific Rim and small island nations, and defy any indigenous peoples efforts to retain some part of their traditional self-sustaining local economies, and sovereignties. It will open new entry points for giant global corporations, notably Chevron, Halliburton, Walmart, AT&T, Cargill, Monsanto, Pfizer, and others involved in such activities as: land-grabbing and speculation, minerals and mining extraction for export, forest harvesting, palm oil plantations, monocrop agriculture for global export, control and exploitation of remaining ocean resources, and tourist development, et. al. Pacific nations will be pressured to eliminate all entry restrictions, trade quotas, tariffs, hiring requirements, labor and environmental laws, bank regulation, intellectual property, indigenous rights, etc. allowing global corporations to freely enter with few controls. Perhaps worst of all, global corporations will be given guarantees for their profit expectations. They will be granted powers to sue local governments outside any nation’s court system, for any rules that limit corporate prerogatives. Local cultures will have little chance to survive, and democracy among Pacific nations will be in rapid decline.